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Five top entrepreneurs reveal how they spend their time

feature-clock-200A common complaint from busy entrepreneurs is that there is not enough time in the day.

Since entrepreneurs do need to sleep occasionally – and scientists’ attempts at cloning have not progressed far beyond Dolly the sheep – it all comes down to how you prioritise your time.

We spoke to five top entrepreneurs to find out how they allocate their time each day and how they would change that juggle if they got the chance:

Barb de Corti: “Have your eyes on the business not in the business”

Barb de Corti is the founder and owner of cleaning products business Enjo, which has a turnover of over $100 million and is sold in 15 countries worldwide.

De Corti told SmartCompany each day she gets up at 4.15am in the morning to fit in exercise and breakfast before getting into the office at 8.30 in the morning.

“I spend half my day looking at trends that affect our business, trends of the rest of the world in terms of retail and direct selling and the other half of the day in the business with my team and making sure this knowledge is implemented,” she says.

De Corti says because she has been in business for over 19 years now, she has managed to refine what is the best allocation of your time.

“I have learned over the years to work on my ideal day and what is most important in the ideal day for the business,” she says.

“That is to have your eyes on the business and not in the business. Very often in the early days I was working in the business which then could only grow as far as my knowledge could, so working on the business and learning from external sources I can grow the business.”

She has achieved this balance between working on the business and in the business by relying on four senior managers for day-to-day operations.

“I am in a fortunate position that the four managers I work with are very senior and so allow me to work on the business ideas and they put everything in place to put us there,” she says.

De Corti’s tip for time allocation is to use your diary to mark out tasks for every day divided into four sections, things you must do for the day, things that would be great to do, time that must be spent with your team and what you would like to do with your team.

“Having things I would like to do sitting there is something to look forward to, so it is really like a reward,” she says.

Andrew Mellett: “Look at what is core”

Andrew Mellett co-founded new model law firm Plexus two years ago but in building the business to a turnover of over $5 million he discovered he was spending a lot of time with clients and managing the office.

Mellett says he realises he needed to sit down and take stock of what he was investing his time in so he listed the areas he dealt with and decided to focus on core tasks.

“That is the core I define as things that only I can do or I can do significantly better than anybody else,” he says.

Mellett worked out that in the last six months he spent 60% of his time on client matters, 15% on working with people which he defines as “talent” and 15% working with business operations on finance and management.

He spent the remainder of his time, a measly 10%, on business strategy and strategy execution but these were two areas Mellett had identified as core.

So Mellett has shaken things up and hired staff to take care of his client obligations and to work on general administration and office management.

“Ideally I will now spend 80% of my time on my core role which is talent, by which I mean attracting, engaging and training and then 20% on business strategy,” says Mellett.

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Cara Waters

SmartCompany editor

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Cara Waters is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.