When you’re running your own business, every minute of the day counts. But with an endless list of tasks and limited resources available, how do ensure everything gets done and correctly?
When it comes to small business operations, efficiency and effectiveness are key. Fortunately, with the help of a few different tools and methods, you can streamline your business – and free up time to focus on just doing your job.
Every small business owner knows that running one is a bit like spinning plates. While having a hand in lots of different pies might look impressive on paper, it can lead to several jobs half done. Doing everything in-house also puts you at risk of opportunity cost, especially if you have to pull someone away from their usual work to focus on a one-off project. Recognizing when jobs should be done by an outside consultant is a vital part of effective management.
It’s more than just what it might cost to bring a freelancer in to pick up the slack, it’s what you might sacrifice if you don’t. The biggest benefit of the investment is that you’re paying for expertise without compromising on quality.
Automating time tracking allows you to know exactly how your business spends its time without wasting it in the process. With an accurate overview of every activity, from time spent on client calls to sales or editing proposals, you’ll get an idea of how much time goes into each project, client and internal admin. Here you can discover broken or inefficient processes and fix them to optimize operations. A complete and exact report of how you’ve spent your business’ time also allows you to bill clients accurately and transparently, so no one is left wondering where the extra budget went.
As time tracking apps like Timely don’t require manual input of hours and minutes worked, you have more time for productivity – and will save yourself and your team a tedious task at the end of a long week.
From in-house communication and accounting to email marketing and scheduling – there’s an app for that. Take advantage of tech to take the time and hard labor out of the small tasks. Chat apps like Slack are ideal for catching up with the team when everyone’s snowed under, while project management software like Trello keeps workflow organised, allowing you to assign jobs, track progress and leave feedback via digital cards.
Cloud software is essential for keeping all your data secure in one place (cutting down on paper records is eco-friendly too). Look to add-ons like MailChimp – which creates email templates, schedules campaigns and generates reports – to connect more efficiently with your mailing list.
Employees are not meant to be masters of all trades (though that would be a boon for small businesses). Identify where your team’s strengths and weaknesses lie and encourage and facilitate them to develop skills in those areas. Not only is it a rewarding enterprise; developing your employees gives them an edge and inspires them to greater productivity.
Investing in your employee’s talents also allows you to effectively delegate, both freeing up your time and giving responsibility and a sense of mutual trust to your team members.
Defining business processes and rules ensures no time is lost, for example, double checking a delivery plan or client communication at a critical moment. Every person in your business should have a clear understanding of the limitations of their role and what actions they can undertake without clearance.
A variety of different personalities and working styles can be united with clear frameworks. This architecture can align processes with business objectives, which is not only useful on the office floor, but promotes transparency for stakeholders too.
We’ve broken down the essential small business tools you need to know about!