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When you’re running your own business, you can feel as though there are never enough hours in the day. You need to keep an eye on business strategy, plan marketing campaigns, oversee sales, manage HR issues, and deal with financial reports and balance the books. All at the same time as keeping your employees happy and communicating with clients and partners.
That’s one of the many reasons why so many small business owners find that their business has taken over their entire lives. Which is ironic because finding a better work-life balance is often what drove them to start a business in the first place.
Since you can’t add more hours to the day and you don’t want to be in the office till midnight, your only option is to make better use of the time you have. Here are six ways for small business owners to streamline their workflows and reclaim their time from being consumed by work.
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1. Ramp Up on Automation
It’s very common to reach the point where you can’t accomplish everything on your own or with your existing workforce. But, you also can’t quite justify hiring an additional employee to help manage your business. Although it’s becoming more common to hire gig workers to fill the gaps, you might find even that an expense too far for your current circumstances.
Instead, automate your most time-consuming tasks, which are often also your most irritating, using SaaS tools. Cloud-based, AI-Driven platforms can save you time producing marketing content and running email and SMS campaigns. They can also take over the burden of managing invoices and receipts, preparing financial reports, and calculating payroll.
2. Collaborate More Smoothly
Whatever your small business is, it’s likely that you’ll need to collaborate with others, whether they’re employees, suppliers, or business partners to help manage your business. However, collaboration can be time-consuming. Unnecessary meetings can waste valuable time as well.
Save time by using cloud-based tools like online notes to collaborate seamlessly. All your brainstorming sessions, discussions, and disagreements will be saved in a single location. So then you can quickly and easily refer to them whenever you like. Feedback is instantly available and updated in real time, so you can access it at anytime.
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3. Choose the Right Tasks at the Right Time
It’s worthwhile to spend a couple of weeks monitoring your time using a time tracking tool while you’re managing your business. So, you can track your most productive periods. Then you can spot when you’re not really being productive because your concentration has diminished.
Once you’ve got an overview of your most and least focused times of day, you can assign yourself tasks accordingly. Instead of flogging yourself to brainstorm new marketing ideas in the afternoon, when your creativity is at a low ebb, schedule routine email replies for that time of day instead. Then, save creative development for the morning when you’re more productive.
4. Cut Down on Interruptions
According to a study from the University of California-Irvine, it takes more than 20 minutes on average for someone to regain their concentration after an interruption. That means that if you get interrupted just five times a day while managing your business, you’ve lost close to 2 hours of valuable work time.
As a result, it’s worthwhile to do all you can to minimize interruptions. This means more than simply blocking social media notifications and disabling Candy Crush. Anything which takes your focus away from the task at hand should be considered an interruption. So, that includes stopping in the middle of reviewing product quality in order to reply to an email.
Cut down on interruptions by grouping similar tasks together. For example, while managing business related tasks such as replying to emails, making supplier phone calls, and preparing financial reports can be grouped together. This way you can focus on one task at a time without getting distracted by other issues that can be dealt with later.
5. Stay Focused on Your Goals
Many small business owners start a business because they are passionate about sharing Grandma’s unique cookie recipe with the world. However, some end up as workaholics who forget what all of it is for.
Avoid that fate by writing your business goals somewhere visible, whether it’s to bring in over $100,000 a year in revenue, sell your business to an investor, or place your cookies in every branch of Trader Joe’s. Whenever something new comes along, ask yourself if it moves you towards your goal. If not, whatever it is is just another distraction that will suck up your time. So you should tear yourself away.
6. Keep your Resources Close at Hand
It’s amazing how much time you can waste hunting for files through old email threads and across multiple different devices when managing your business. Cloud-based platforms allow you to keep all your data, reports, files, assets, and other resources in a single location and tag them using keywords. This way they’re searchable and easily accessible whenever and wherever you need them.
It also saves you from the frustration of constantly having to interrupt yourself to send files to employees and partners. Since cloud-bases platforms allow them to read everything in one place.
Make the Most of Your Business Time
Small business owners have, quite literally, no time to waste when managing their business. With so many tasks and requests to deal with, you have no choice but to work smarter as well as working harder. Using the right tools to improve collaboration, increase automation, cut interruptions, and boost your productivity is essential for productivity. Save your time hunting for resources, and avoid distractions. These small changes will help you run your business more efficiently and spend more time on the things you love.
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