Managing a small business is not easy. It requires an unlimited amount of focus, motivation, and the ability to keep calm under pressure. In other words, if you’re a small business owner, you have your plate full.
Staying on task and effectively managing your time become more important than ever. Here are some tips for how small business owners can have productive work days, which will ultimately save time and money.
1. Do Not Multitask
As writer Mitchell York points out on About.com, multitasking may seem smart, but in actuality it’s a waste of time and does not encourage productivity “It doesn’t work,” he says. “Talking while driving, emailing while talking on the phone, shopping for groceries while on a conference call (you forgot the eggs — again!). All you’ll do is create re-work for yourself.” Focusing on one duty at a time is always the way to go, especially for small business owners, who are frequently taking on the roles of more than one employee.
2. Assign Specific Tasks to Your Team
This goes along with multitasking. A small business owner should start every day with a meeting or to-do list for each team member, so that he or she can stay on task as well. Overwhelming employees and expecting them to complete too much on any given day will just wear them out. There’s nothing worse than a group of zombie-like employees when an owner is trying to get his or her small business off the ground.
3. Automate Specific Obligations
Small business owners should automate more than their payrolls. In fact, they should automate whenever possible, says Small Business Trends’ Lisa Barone. “You don’t want to bog down your mind with little details that you can set and forget. You want to focus on your business. If you can take something off your plate and trust it to a program or application, do it. You want to give the appearance that you’re always in your business. You don’t actually have to be there.” For example, if a business utilizes Twitter, the owner can set up auto-tweets. Google Calendars and automated emailing are always useful tools as well.
4. Stick to Work Hours
Small business owners risk burning out because they typically work more than 40 hours a week and/or later than normal work hours. In fact, a 2007 survey from Staples found that nearly 66% of small business owners work more than 40 hours a week and that same percentage works at night and after hours. It may be tempting to check email in bed right before going to sleep, or stay at the office late every night, but it’s unhealthy and can result in exhaustion. Just like multitasking, working all the time may seem like it’s helping the business, but not establishing separate work and life routines will hinder productivity. If an owner is too tired to work, that’s not productive.
5. Download the Right Apps
Apps for smartphones and iPads can make life easier and assist with staying productive. Owners can simply type “small business owner productivity apps” and find dozens of helpful tools. Mashable’s Stephanie Buck anie Buck highlights LogMeIn, which lets the user access his or her Mac or PC from an iPhone or iPad, and EasySign (now SignEasy), which allows people to review and sign documents electronically, thus eliminating the need for printing, faxing, scanning and sending.
6. Limit Meeting Times
If a meeting is not absolutely essential, a small business owner should not take it or call it. When a meeting is scheduled, it’s important to allot a certain amount of time for it instead of just leaving it open-ended. Dave Donovan of BusinessCredit writes, “When you have an open-ended meeting, it can go on for much longer than anticipated. Before you know it, the work day is over. Instead, keep your meetings to a time schedule, and address your top three priority issues first so you can be sure they get resolved within the time frame.”
Small business owners may feel overwhelmed by their daily responsibilities. But with the right tools, proper scheduling and a strict adherence to certain rules, greater productivity can be achieved. It just takes practice — and the same commitment you brought to starting your company in the first place.
How have you increased productivity in your small business?
By Kylie Jane Wakefield, www.infusionsoft.com