Survey: how small-company leaders spend their time

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. How leaders spend and value their time
  4. Outsourcing less valuable activities
  5. Key takeaways
  6. Appendix: methodology
  7. About David MacMillan

1. Summary

Time allocation is a critical issue for owners and CEOs of small companies. Unlike a Fortune 500 CEO, small-company leaders can’t offload tasks to layers of management and an army of workers. Yet, like a Fortune 500 CEO, small-company leaders must focus on the activities that add the most value to their companies and therefore must find creative ways to offload the routine work.

Gigaom Research ran a survey in June 2014 that was designed to understand time management from the small company leader’s viewpoint. The survey asked leaders where they spent their time, where they felt they added the most value, and where they wanted to spend more or less time. The survey also explored leaders’ willingness to outsource some activities, including to cloud-based outsourcing services.

Only 14 percent of the respondents were happy with their time allocation. In particular, many leaders want to spend more time on growth-oriented activities because they feel they can add the most value there. However, they spend much of their time maintaining the existing business and on necessary, unavoidable tasks, such as compliance with government regulations. Because they can’t spend enough time on growth activities, value-creation opportunities may be slipping away.

Key highlights of the findings include:

  • While more than half of the leaders surveyed rate growing their businesses and corporate strategies as critical, nearly half (46 percent) spend more than a third of their time on operational tasks. Just under a quarter (24 percent) spend that much time on strategy and only 15 percent spend it on new products.
  • More than a third of leaders surveyed want to spend more time on sales, strategy, and new product development.
  • More than a third prefer spending less time on IT, legal, HR and finance.
  • Many leaders are outsourcing legal, IT, and finance activities to external organizations. But legal is the only function they’ve been able to offload significantly.
  • Those leaders who currently outsource appear highly satisfied with their decision: 92 percent planned to increase outsourcing in at least one area, or to continue outsourcing at current levels.



Thumbnail image courtesy: moodboard/Thinkstock

Full content available to GigaOm Subscribers.

Sign Up For Free