This year, I’m on a mission to apply the work smarter not harder idea to my business. As entrepreneurs, it’s our goal to design a lifestyle around a business we love, while working less.
If we wanted to be workaholics who worked all the time, and put our priorities to the back burner, we would have continued at our traditional jobs.
Having the freedom to do what we want and to work on projects that make us happy, is one of the main benefits to being self-employed. However, the biggest obstacle we often face is the constant running in place we do as small business owners.
To avoid that actually reach our goals of having a good work-life balance, we’ve got to apply a few strategies to run our businesses more efficiently. Here’s how to get started:
1. Streamline Your Bills
The financial part of running a small business can easily overwhelm the best of us. Even as an ex-accountant, trying to keep track of all the invoices, expenses, receipts, and bills is a task all it’s own.
In order to simplify your financial life as a business owner, you’ve got to streamline your bills and paperwork. Things like signing up for paperless statements, creating automatic payments and bundling services, are all things that will help you get control of the clutter.
Not only will you save money — and time — on envelopes, stamps and running to the Post Office, many internet and telephone companies will give you discounts on their services when you combine more than one. It’s a win-win!
2. Create Templates for Repeat Tasks
Simple tasks like answering emails, replying to customer service inquiries, scheduling meetings and posting content on social media, are likely to be repeated often — if not every day.
Instead of wasting time answering the same questions, or doing the same tasks over and over, create a simple template in a Google doc that details each task and the steps needing to be done. You can even create reminders, include images, or links and set the font type within the template.
If you’re constantly answering the same type of emails, consider making a template of the answer in a doc, that you can copy and paste into each reply. Or better yet, you can use the Canned Responses app from Gmail.
Instead of spending your valuable time doing the same thing over and over, all you have to do is change a few details to customize each email. Boom! Now you can answer inquiries in less than half the time — and get control of your inbox for once!
3. Utilize Online Tools and Systems
Along with creating templates, there are a variety of online tools and systems available to help you get more done in less time. Forbes recently listed their top 30 tools for small business owners, and includes everything from finance, to sales and marketing, to ecommerce.
If you aren’t utilizing some of these online resources, you’re doing yourself — and your business — a disservice. Granted there are advantages to doing things the long way, along with analyzing results in a spreadsheet, but don’t discount the value these tools can bring to your productivity level.
4. Outsource Daily Tasks
This particular step has made one of biggest differences in how I run my online business. In the beginning I was skeptical that someone else could get the job done the way I wanted, but I quickly learned that most of the time, they did it better than I could.
As the owner of your own business, you should be focusing on the important aspects of what your business needs — not wasting time on small things like updating the calendar, or booking flights to the next conference.
Make a list of tasks you do every day, that you either don’t like or aren’t good at. More often than not, those projects can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, or contractor who specializes in that area.
Outsourcing small tasks will not only save you time, but will remind you that you’re supposed to be strategizing, building, networking and connecting with other people in your industry — all in an effort to propel your business forward.
5. Stop Wasting Time
Anytime you take on a new client or customer, remember your ultimate goal — to be more productive and more efficient. Everything you do going forward, has to line up with that model.
Once you start wasting time, wasting money or wasting energy, that particular project or task needs to be dropped, or outsourced to someone else. You’re trying to build a business that makes people’s lives better. But how can you do that if you’re not doing it for yourself too?
Stop wasting time on the small things, and work on completing the big goals. Spend time with your customers and clients, as well as your group of contacts. People are what really matter in the business world!
There’s no reason why any of us, who have access to the best tools available, should waste our time working with clients or projects that don’t propel us towards that goal.
Once you decide what’s important for your business to succeed, it’s easier to achieve your goals — in less time, with less stress — by strategically leveraging these tactics.
What’s another way you can make your business run more efficiently?