APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady answers your career questions and meets an inspiring CEO.
Here she gives a reader advice on how best to manage their time in order to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Q) I run a small business selling framed prints through Etsy, and although I’ll never become a millionaire, I’m fine. I have lots of product ideas and would like to move the business forward, but I have only one problem: time!
I have two elementary school aged kids, a dog and my husband works shifts so he’s not always around in the evenings or on the weekends.
I can’t afford to employ someone to help me, but even when I sit down to work, five minutes later, I have to put on laundry or pick up the kids.
How can I better manage my time so I can really focus on my Etsy shop?
Tina, via email
A) It sounds like you’re running a successful small business and have room for growth, so first of all, congratulations! It’s not easy at the moment.
Time management is a daily challenge for so many people – myself included! – with all the demands that we increasingly have on us. You have to be extremely strict with your schedule, so create a schedule for yourself, like you would for your children and their extracurricular activities, and then stick to it.
Add time to fulfill orders, time to work on new products and ideas, administration and paperwork, but be realistic about the demands of your family life.
Once it’s on paper, you can identify time slots to focus on (for example, while the kids are in school), or you should be able to see where you can shift tasks to create time for work.
You may need to make a schedule at the beginning of each week if your parenting or family habits change.
Protect your time and don’t get distracted. And remember, no one is ever dead if the house hasn’t been vacuumed, so give yourself a break!
A day in the life of…
Sonal Keay, 43, is the CEO and founder of pillowcase and skincare brand This Is Silk. She lives in the Cotswolds with her network engineer husband Steve, 49, and their two young daughters.
I wake up at…
6:45 a.m. I need two coffees to start the day, then I wake up the girls and we’re at school at 7:30. Back home, I walk with Steve and Biscuit, our border terrier, or I lift weights, it’s like taking a bath for the mind.
A normal day involves…
I check in with my two members of management – it doesn’t matter where and when they work, as long as the job is done. For me, gratitude is synonymous with bonuses and flexibility, so it’s always a “yes” to participate in school sports days! When I started the business in 2018, after 15 years as a criminal lawyer, there was time to plan, but growth brings encounters.
These days, I’m still on Zoom calls and face-to-face with ad agencies, vendors, and my accountant. I am looking for investments and I work with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
I’m obsessed with product testing, so I spend 90% of my time discussing formulations, skincare ingredients, and timelines with my Sussex-based scientists.
The best part of my job is…
When people who have never tried silk tell me they are truly amazed at what it does for their skin and hair.
And the hardest…
Marketing. I was a lawyer, but I’m introverted and I’d rather be in shock than talk about myself! I have a rare skin condition called chronic actinic dermatitis, so I’m allergic to the sun, which I manage by wearing factor 50 at all times and having darkened windows at home and in my car.
When I was diagnosed at 16, I found sleeping on silk pillowcases helped, which is why I started my business.
At first I was embarrassed to be Indian and allergic to the sun, but I’m learning the power of telling customers and retailers, “It’s me”.
I relax by…
I stop working at 3:30 p.m. to be with the girls until they go to bed, but then I work in the evening.
Working from home means so much that I’m a fan of day trips and weekends away. Getting out into nature for a nice walk is wonderful for the soul.