Lessons from the Peaky Blinders aka Small Business Owners Are Trench Diggers 

Don’t worry – no previous knowledge of Peaky Blinders required. Much like Tommy Shelby, small business owners find themselves constantly tunneling the trenches, ducking bullets, and facing adversaries head-on. We are the type to commit to the relentless pursuit of success amidst sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds. 

The Trench Warfare of Entrepreneurship 

Every day we must remain vigilant, adaptive, and resourceful. We're on the front lines, making critical decisions, often under fire from competition, market changes, and financial pressures. Some days can feel a bit like we’ve run out of light to keep tunnelling by. 

Whether it's a sudden market downturn, a supply chain disruption, or a global pandemic, the ability to adapt and pivot is crucial. Learning to anticipate and mitigate these "bullets" can mean the difference between thriving and merely surviving. But every bullet we dodge is a challenge we have learned to overcome and be prepared for next time. 

Now I am not claiming that we should love digging our trenches, I very much doubt Shelby would have (were he real), but the reality is that we really are all in this together. For small business owners, building a network of allies—be it through partnerships, mentorships, or community involvement—can provide crucial support and resources. Networking isn't just about expanding your business reach; it's about creating a support system that can help you navigate the trenches with confidence. 

Tommy Shelby's success wasn’t based on strength alone but on his strategic mind. Similarly, the small business journey is less about brute force and more about strategic decision-making. Ok, sometimes there is also a bit of brute force involved for us too. Parallels abound. But in all seriousness, making calculated moves that align with your long-term vision, even when the pressure is on is a skill that we all must hone to perfection if we want our business to survive. 

The Heart of the Entrepreneur 

Perhaps the most critical lesson we can learn from the Peaky Blinders however, is resilience. The Shelbys face betrayal, loss, and seemingly insurmountable odds, yet they persist. Their resilience is a testament to the power of grit and determination. For small business owners, setbacks are inevitable, but it's the ability to rise, dust off, and move forward that defines true success. 

It’s no small feat. You must be prepared to dodge bullets, build alliances, and make smart decisions. Our path is fraught with challenges, but it's also filled with opportunities for growth and triumph. 

In the end, the trenches are not just about survival; they're about thriving. They're where we discover our strength, refine our strategy, and carve out our path to success. So, to all small business owners: Keep your head down, stay resilient, and march on. The trenches may be tough, but they're also where legends are made. 

Small Business Owner’s Guide: The Value of Your Time

In the wise words of Miles Davis, "Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing."

This statement couldn’t be truer for small business owners. You have everything to get done, but there are only so many hours in a day or week to do it. If you're feeling overwhelmed and turn to the internet for advice, you're likely to find a plethora of management strategies promising perfection—for a price. These can often be too vague or not easily actionable.

Time management can have a profound impact on our productivity, but most of us don’t really have a good grasp of what that looks like at the end of the day.

A Look at the Statistics

Let's directly address the statistics that shed light on the current state of time management among small business owners:

Those are some eye-opening stats right?

The Challenge of Procrastination

Adding to the challenge, the American Psychological Association reports that 20% of adults regularly delay tasks, affecting their efficiency.

Sometimes we wait because we just don’t care enough about the task, but other times we care a lot – and still end up doing something else.  Research indicates that procrastination can increase when tasks are perceived as harder or more unpleasant, as the mental effort required is intrinsically costly. People tend to choose easier tasks over harder ones due to the higher subjective costs associated with the latter.

This habit of procrastination can significantly impact the productivity of small business owners, further complicating the management of an already tight schedule. Breaking tasks down into more manageable pieces has been suggested as an effective strategy to reduce procrastination by making work seem less daunting.

The Consequences of Mismanaged Time

Despite these stats, 49% of working professionals have never conducted a time audit to see and analyse how they spend their time. This oversight leads small business owners to wear multiple hats, taking on an average of 4.2 roles, including that of leader, communicator, marketer, and financial manager. As a result, 70% of small business owners report working more than 40 hours a week, with 19% of them working over 60 hours a week.

Keeping track of how you spend your time can help you identify the gaps and delegate work in a better manner. This way you can allot more of your time to working ON the business rather than IN it. 

Working ON the business involves more strategic activities for the company that leads to growth, improves profitability, and higher morale of the employees. The decision-makers should be spending more time working on these tasks. 

Put simply, time management is the art of optimising your time to achieve your goals. 

What Can You Do?

Define Your Business Goals

First, it’s crucial to define your business goals, this may be reviewing goals you’ve set and taking an honest look at what it takes to achieve them. You cannot effectively prioritise your time without a clear understanding of what you’re working towards. Whether it’s improving revenue, raising customer satisfaction rates, or building brand recognition, knowing your goals helps you understand where your focus should be.

Reflect

Consider these direct questions about your and your team's use of time:

These reflections can drive adjustments that better align your daily tasks with your strategic objectives.

Adjust

Decide what you want to do about those answers if they don’t clearly and directly align to those business goals you just defined – and make you the most impact.

Key Takeaways

For small business owners, mastering time management is not just about working harder but smarter. By taking stock of how time is spent, prioritising effectively, and being strategic about tasks and delegation, you can make more time for the work that truly matters and that will achieve your business goals. Remember, in the grand scheme of business success, "Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing."

Sources:

Time Management Statistics & Facts - 2024 - Acuity Training

Does time management work? A meta-analysis - PMC (nih.gov)

[Survey] Time Management and Business Owners | TAB (thealternativeboard.com)

Psychology of procrastination: Why people put off important tasks until the last minute (apa.org)The Psychological Origins of Procrastination—and How We Can Stop Putting Things Off - JSTOR Daily