The Crisis of Black Women Entrepreneurs and Time Poverty



Are Black Women Entrepreneurs More Prone to Time Poverty?

I witness the impact of time poverty on Black women entrepreneurs whom I coach way too often. In fact, I’ve battled the issue myself for some time. I think we are especially prone to time poverty because we are often running an under-resourced, understaffed business. Moreover, Black women are often the primary or only deliverer of services. Time poverty is a state of being where you feel like you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything you want or need to do. Time is a finite resource, and while we all have the same 24 hours in a day, some people seem to have more time than others. Black women are constantly racing against the clock while battling systemic racism. They often arrive at Sistahbiz coaching sessions drained and burned out. Their runway to closure is shorter and high stakes. Their access to social and financial capital lesser. It’s not uncommon for the women in our community to work long hours, neglect their personal life, and still feel like they are falling behind. It’s why we added the book, Buy Back Your Time, to our business book study program.

Am I talking to you? If you’re working 60 hours a week, including weekends, and you’re always on call for your clients – this post is for you. If you barely have time to spend with your family, and when you do, you are always thinking about work or on your phone, this is for you. If you have a never-ending to-do list, and you struggle to prioritize your tasks, the recommendations below are for you. I recommend you not just read them, but write a game plan for executing each one. You can’t end racism, the black tax or its impact on your business, but there are ways to work that create a pathway to your freedom.

Stick to a Narrow Set of  Goals and Initiatives

On any given day, you’ll feel like you have so much to do and you have to do it all. Well, you can do anything, but not everything. Define your company’s core goals and the top 3-5 initiatives that will get you there. Then empower your team to prioritize and implement them with laser focus by deadline. Don’t start new initiatives until the previous ones are complete. Use a litmus test to determine if something fits within your priorities or needs to be parked for later consideration. Learn to start new strategies at a small scale and keep it simple. For example, launch one small and simple funnel instead of managing many complex, layered funnels. Hire a strategic planning consultant or business coach to help you narrow down and get clear.

Calculate Man-hours Properly

Strategic initiatives are one-time projects that move the business forward, but day-to-day operations need to be planned out with man-hours properly budgeted to avoid exceeding capacity. Actually calculate the time and manpower needed to complete daily functions and processes for customer transactions and back office tasks. If you struggle with this, it’s a great idea to hire a project manager to help calculate man-hours, capacity and facilitate process-improvement. There are great time tracker apps on the market that you can use to log time and many project management systems have time tracking features. You have to commit to using it consistently, however.

Stop Low-Balling Yourself

I see it all the time. Underpricing your services leads to time poverty. When you undercharge, you may end up taking on more clients to reach your sales goals, which can quickly become overwhelming. This can lead to a vicious cycle where you have less time to complete work for each client and end up sacrificing quality. In addition, when you undervalue your services, you may attract clients who are less committed or less likely to value your work, and more likely to make unreasonable requests beyond your work scope. On top of that, you are likely to get referrals from people who now expect to pay less and get more. Ultimately, setting fair and reasonable prices for your services can help you attract the right clients and provide the time, staffing and resources necessary to deliver high-quality work.

Delegate and Train

As a business owner, you may feel like you need to do everything yourself, but this is not always the most efficient use of your time. If you are your company’s bottleneck for everything, it probably means you’re treating your business like it’s your baby. If so, it and your revenues will stay in infancy stage. If you want to grow, you’ll need a team, and that should be incorporated in your pricing. Design a business strategy that includes raising capital or earning the revenue needed to hire a team. Invest in team training and SOP development. Delegate tasks to your employees or outsource them to freelancers or contractors. It may take more time and energy on the front end, but follow through and these steps will free up your time and allow you to focus on more important executive tasks. Be sure to delegate the jobs you despise doing early on – especially the lower-level functions that are well below your pay grade. Keeping the jobs you love doing, while delegating those that drain you, makes the daily grind fulfilling and energizing. 

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Automate and Streamline

Tech automation can be a powerful tool in the fight against time poverty. By automating routine tasks and using technology to streamline workflows, business owners can free up time without the costs of hiring. For example, software applications like Asana, Honeybook, Stripe, can automate tasks like invoicing, data entry, and reporting. This saves time and reduces the likelihood of errors. Using tools like Canva, Mailchimp and Chat GPT that help schedule social media posts and automatically reply to emails can assist in managing communication and minimizing interruptions. At the same time, automation tools such as chatbots can take care of customer inquiries and support requests. By using technology and automation strategically, business owners can optimize their time and increase productivity. Hire a tech consultant or support person to help you strategize and set up your automations. The key here is to keep your systems simple and scalable.

Learn to Say No. Periodt.

Saying no can be challenging, especially when you want to please everyone. However, it’s essential to learn to say no to tasks that don’t align with your goals or values. Saying no will allow you to focus on what’s important and avoid wasting your time on tasks that don’t matter. Observe if you suffer from “shiny object syndrome”, a behavior pattern where an entrepreneur is easily distracted by new and exciting business opportunities, ideas, or trends. If this is you, you may find yourself frequently changing direction, putting too much on your plate, picking up new initiatives without budgeting the time, and finding yourself quickly overwhelmed. Take care of yourself and stop spreading yourself thin.

Schedule and Plan for Breaks 

I see it all the time – a Black woman boss who knows how to plan like a boss, but leaves out her own time for healing, recharging and even eating! In fact, I’ve been that woman! It’s essential to take breaks and recharge your batteries. When building a master calendar at the front of the year, incorporate your vacations and personal days upfront. Schedule breaks into your day for eating and for short walks or sun exposure. Taking breaks will help you stay focused and avoid burnout. Most importantly, make sure you honor those breaks and hold others accountable to honoring that time as well. Hire an assistant or scheduler who fiercely protects your break and off time.

Eat for Energy

Eating a diet rich in healthy, clean, power foods not only fuels your body with essential nutrients but also grants you the precious gift of time. When you prioritize nourishing foods, your energy levels soar, allowing you to be more productive and efficient throughout the day. These power foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, provide a steady release of energy, preventing the dreaded midday slumps and boosting your overall vitality. By avoiding processed foods, excessive sugar, and unhealthy fats, you sidestep the energy crashes and sluggishness that often accompany them. This newfound energy and mental clarity create a domino effect in your life. You can complete tasks more swiftly, leaving you with extra time and energy to engage in hobbies, spend quality moments with loved ones, pursue personal interests, or simply relax and recharge. It can be tempting to eat poorly on the go, but a healthy diet empowers you to reclaim time, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life. Check out this post on eating on the go while on the startup grind.

Address Procrastination

Procrastination is a common obstacle to becoming time wealthy. It’s easy to get sidetracked by distractions, such as social media or email, and postpone tasks until the last minute. Procrastination can lead to stress, missed deadlines, and a lack of progress towards your goals. To overcome procrastination, try breaking down your tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Set deadlines for each step and hold yourself accountable. Avoid multitasking and focus on one task at a time. Finally, eliminate or limit distractions by turning off notifications or working in a quiet, focused environment. By overcoming procrastination, you can make the most of your time and become time-wealthy.

Time poverty can be a significant problem for Black women founders,  especially those who are bootstrapping and managing the many racial disparities in entrepreneurship. It can steal your freedom and make your dream of entrepreneurship more of a nightmare. You can take control of your time and use it in ways that align with your values and goals, but it takes intentionality. Act now, and create a business that brings an abundance of time.

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