One of the hardest things to do as a business owner is make time to work on growing your own business. We're so busy working for our clients, creating the products or services we sell, or reacting to the Tyranny of the Urgent that there just isn't enough time to give to our business.

Successful businesses learn that they must prioritize marketing. (That means actually doing some!)

You might reject the idea of spending time on your marketing because these hours aren't billable. And, when you have a business in which billable hours fuel the engine, it's a difficult choice to make.

However, there won't BE an engine unless you're growing the business, attracting and retaining customers, and coming up with new ways to offer them value.

Demonstrate your commitment

If you're really serious about making marketing a regular activity, start by scheduling time with yourself on your calendar. Don't assume you'll just remember it, or that you'll do it first thing in the morning. Get serious and write down an appointment.

How much is enough time to work?

When I first started to schedule sessions with myself, I'd block off entire half-days. I thought I'd knock out a bunch of work at one fell swoop, but I found it hard to stay on task for that long, especially knowing all the client work that was waiting to be done.

After compromising myself down to an absurdly short 15 minutes (less time than I spend reading the news online!), I found that 30-minute, focused work periods were ideal for me.

Focused 30-minute work periods

It's easy to accomplish something in 30 minutes if you're focused. It's too short a time to dawdle or interrupt it with phone calls, or else you won't get anything done.

Some people use a kitchen timer to keep on track. For them, the ticking sound it makes is a reminder to focus on the work and the remaining minutes. However you choose to do it, be sure to keep the time and stop when you've agreed to. Otherwise, you may run way overtime and feel resentful. Let the timer remind you to respect your own boundaries and not push yourself too hard.

Can you write a marketing plan in 30 minutes a day?

Sure, you could, but that's not really the purpose of this time. I'd recommend doing planning at another time dedicated just to that, and then executing and refining it during your daily marketing exercise.

Honor your commitment

Once you've scheduled these times on your calendar, honor your commitment. Treat these appointments as respectfully as you would one with your most important client. That means you're never late or a no-show, and, if you absolutely MUST do something else at that time, you reschedule the appointment by immediately writing a substitute down somewhere else on your calendar.

Remember that others will notice how you treat your commitments to yourself and to your business, among them your clients, employees and vendors. You also send a signal to your Self (your spirit or soul, however you want to call it) and the Universe. It doesn't feel good to be last on your own list, and somewhere in the mechanism the message "my business isn't worth as much to me as the business of others" gets filed away.

Honor yourself by keeping promises and nurturing your own business.

Accountability partners

An accountability partner is simply someone who agrees to follow up with you about things you commit to do. Usually you find someone else who wants support in getting something done. Just as two exercise partners can keep either other motivated and on-track, so can you accomplish more when someone else is checking with you and supporting you.

After several months of partnering with a friend on our weekly goals, I found it quite easy to schedule and keep commitments to myself and to work regularly on my marketing.

What's a good thing to do during your daily - or thrice weekly - marketing exercises?

Here's a list of things you could do:

  • Consider how to improve your marketing message.
  • Call a lapsed client and find out why you haven't heard from them.
  • Call a raving fan and find out why they continue to do business with you.
  • Meditate or pray.
  • Envision how you'd like your business to look in six months.
  • Visit a competitors' store or web site.
  • Make a list of what to do with your marketing time over the next month.
  • Attend a networking event.
  • Study something useful about marketing, business or your industry.
  • Take a walk while holding the intention, "I am open to receiving ideas about how to grow my business."

Here's a list of things you should not do:

  • Answer the phone.
  • Chat with passersby. (Remember, this exercise may look like you are doing nothing, so be sure to let people who may see you know that you're busy increasing the value of your business.)
  • Check email.
  • Get distracted by something on the Internet (you only have 30 minutes for your business - you can read everything else later).
  • Pay bills.

Billable vs non-billable hours

Although you're not technically paying yourself for the time you spend working on your own marketing, this exercise will definitely pay off for you. You'll be more centered, more in-control, more effective, and you'll have more clients, money and profits. So, get out your calendar and make an appointment with yourself right now!

Author's Bio: 

"I'd love to give you over $300 worth of valuable marketing strategies gifts - just visit me at"

Samantha Hartley of Enlightened Marketing helps socially responsible entrepreneurs who are struggling with peaks and valleys in their businesses to generate a consistent stream of new, profitable clients.