Running a small business can feel like juggling. Your mind wants to focus on product design, but you’re also worried about accounts and logistics. You rush to manage recruiting, but payroll hits you on the head. It can often feel like a chicken-and-egg situation. You need a stronger team to generate more income, but you need more income to build a strong team.
A successful business person keeps a vigilant eye on resource utilization, including the precious resource of time. In fact, time should be monitored most strictly, as it may slip through your fingers and disappear without a trace. You can make money again, but you cannot get time back.
Your objective should be to ensure each aspect of your operations is performed by the right person at the right time. For that, you need an organizational culture where time is valued and efficiency is rewarded. It’s time you start thinking out of the box and find new ways to save time without compromising on efficacy. Here are four tips for making your business run smoother and faster.
1. Embrace Technology
Technology can be a game-changer for small business owners. It reduces the chance of errors and speeds turnaround time. When you leave the back-end jobs to software, you can focus on the creative aspects of your business. From invoicing to online document signing, digitization makes tasks easier and more secure for both you and your customers.
Entering the virtual world can free you from mountains of paper and the time-consuming need to file it all. Save digital copies of your documents online so they can be accessed from anywhere. If you run an online store, utilize e-commerce platforms to automate product listings, order processing, and inventory management. Assign routine and repetitive tasks to software so that your staff is free to focus on higher-level business objectives.
2. Delegate and Eliminate
To use your time most effectively, you should only be doing the tasks that you need to do. That means keeping an eye out for functions that you could outsource. For example, many companies are now outsourcing social media marketing. All you need to do is provide a specialized company with some direction on your messaging and tone. Have them take behind-the-scenes footage and photos of your business, then let them post on your behalf in a creative and consistent manner.
The same right-tasking principle applies to your employees, too, so ask your staff for suggestions on reducing errors or delays. Lean management is all about eliminating waste, so review each step to identify any that squander time, materials, or manpower. If you uncover tasks that your team members shouldn’t be doing either, eliminate them.
3. Streamline Communication
Communication-based errors are a common cause of misaligned priorities and rework, two of the worst time wasters in business. To ensure your team members are working on the correct things, establish clear project goals. Then use project management software to break these down into deliverables and enable everyone to track their progress. Your entire team will know who is responsible for what and by when. If obstacles emerge, timelines can be adjusted as needed, while everyone stays in the loop.
While a robust project management solution can take care of many of your communication needs, things like email and meetings will still be necessary. Many executives complain that meetings swallow up most of their day, but that needn’t be the case. As the captain of the ship, it’s your responsibility to steer them in the right direction. To avoid wasting time, be organized and stick to the agenda — and the scheduled ending time. Be available for your team, but teach them which issues can be handled faster via Slack or an email.
4. Don’t Stay Busy, Stay Productive
Everyone seems to be busy nowadays, but not everyone is productive. If you’re working on the wrong tasks, you’re wasting time no matter how quickly you knock them out. So monitor your business’s key performance indicators to make sure the work your team is doing is moving your business in the right direction. If targets are not achieved, investigate the reasons and devise solutions. Base your performance appraisal system on the number of targets achieved, not the number of hours worked.
Discourage multitasking, as it can divide your team members’ focus and diminish their productivity. Productivity is also directly related to motivation. Keep your team charged up by celebrating milestones and developing talents. Consider offering remote working options to staff who spend hours commuting to work. Encouraging regular breaks gives employees time to reset and recharge.
Most small businesses look forward to expanding in the future. The habits you develop today help you tomorrow. So, stay organized and on point. Remember your end goal, and don’t get distracted by tempting shortcuts that may end up wasting time.
Just like juggling, running a small business is all about timing. It’s about keeping an eye on all your responsibilities but handling them one by one. Try to rotate your tasks in a way that you don’t have more than you can manage. Take advantage of technology and other tools that make your processes more efficient and effective. By harnessing the power of time, your business will stay ahead of the competition, even in today’s fast-paced business environment.
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