Do you ever get to the end of a day in your business, and when your partner / friend / significant other asks you how it’s been, your answer is something along the lines of “I’ve been really busy, but I’ve achieved nothing !” ?

If this is the case, chances are you’ve been spending your day fighting fires.  Whether it’s customer issues, supplier issues, team-member issues, service issues, product issues, project  issues, technology issues, machinery issues : what they had in common is that they were all blazing away, likely to escalate, needed your attention … and yet were most probably completely avoidable.

As a business owner, an element of fire-fighting is most probably inevitable.  After all, the buck stops with you, and if anyone is going to ‘fix’ that fire, it’s you in the last resort.  However, too much time spent fire-fighting is not only physically and mentally exhausting, it has a number of both obvious and more hidden dangers.

For a start, while you’re fighting fires, you’re not doing other, more commercially important things, like selling, marketing or looking after your customers.

Secondly, while you’re fighting fires, your team is most likely doing nothing different which will prevent a similar fire from breaking out tomorrow.  You are too busy putting out the flames to help them work out where the mistakes are happening and putting in plans to avoid them happening again.

Thirdly, while you are fighting fires, your team are becoming ever more dependent on you to get them out of a hole.  This is demotivating for your best team members, and an increasing source of frustration and irritation for you.

And finally … secretly .. while you are fighting fires, you might actually be enjoying it – demonstrating to everyone how you’re in charge and how you’re indispensible.  Sadly if you carry on in this way, your business will never be able to grow beyond you, and burn-out is on the cards.

To help you understand how to manage your time better and more profitably, and to avoid the dangers of firefighting, why not get yourself a free one-month trial of Small Business Masterclass?

Graeme Crosbie,