Every business owner is looking to move faster than their competitors, but how can you streamline your days while still ensuring that you're productive?
If you own a small business, chances are you wear a lot of hats. Juggling the day to day management of everything from accounts to marketing to employee relationships can leave little time to grow. That’s why it's critical to explore tools, tips and tricks that can leave you free to pursue your passion and build a better business for the future.
Adopt project management tools
No matter how big or small your business is, project management tools can help. Project management tools like Asana and Basecamp free up time, improve communication between you and your team and allow you to really get down to the nitty-gritty of a task.
They provide a blueprint of your strategy from ideation to completion and can be integrated with free platforms like Slack to provide a one-stop communication method for you and your team.
Project management tools allow you to efficiently assign tasks and track project goals and milestones. They can help you to clearly define the parameters of a project timeline and most project management solutions are optimised for both mobile and desktop, allowing you to keep track of tasks on the go.
Let your staff work remotely
Unless you run a customer-facing brick and mortar business, the days where your staff members have to work in the same office space as you are long gone. Today’s employees expect a level of flexibility to their workplace agreements. This is made possible by apps that enable 'anywhere' collaboration like Dropbox for file sharing, Slack for team messaging and CloudLine for mobile calling.
If you are set up to allow for remote working, your business will benefit by being able to attract talent lured by the option of working from home. Plus, there are numerous benefits to working remotely, from improved staff morale to boosted productivity.
In fact, according to the State of Work Productivity Report, 65% of full-time employees think a remote work schedule would increase productivity. This is backed up by more than two-thirds of managers reporting an increase in overall productivity from their remote employees.
Slash your meetings
Nothing eats up more time than unnecessary meetings. Sure, connecting with your team and keeping track of projects is important, but you don’t have to schedule in catch ups every day.
Unproductive business meetings cost companies an estimated $541 billion in lost productivity and employee time according to the 2019 State of Meetings Report.
It’s far better to make use of project management tools then to schedule dozens of WIPs each week. Slash your meetings and slash the fat from your budget at the same time.
Automate whatever you can
Make use of business tools that automate repetitive tasks and free up your time. According to the 2018 State of Enterprise Work Report, automation is changing the future of work. 86% of those surveyed said automation would allow them to think of work in new and innovative ways, while 69% said it will give them more time to do their primary job.
Automation might sound futuristic, but it doesn't have to be scary. For small business this can be as simple as replacing manual methods with modern software technology. For example: Getting a 'robo receptionist' to answer calls during your busy hours, using Buffer to pre-schedule your social media posts or investing in accounting software like Rounded that syncs with your bank feeds.
It might surprise you to learn that answering your mobile is one of the biggest time-sucks for small business owners. While it's easy to pickup one or two calls a day, as your business grows this can quickly turn into an avalanche.
If you find yourself distracted by answering and directing customer calls, maybe its time to invest in a business-grade phone service like CloudLine. This includes a 'robo receptionist' that can answer calls during busy hours - playing a welcome message and letting callers direct themselves ("Welcome to ABC Widgets - Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Accounts etc"). Features like this can save your staff from repetitive call transfers and free up time for real money-making work.
While we have all been led to believe we should embrace multitasking, Dr Amantha Imber says it’s time we dropped this notion. According to Imber - the founder of Inventium, a science-based business consultancy in Melbourne - we need to forget about multitasking and embrace single-tasking instead.
“Task switching costs us 40% more of our time than if we were doing one task at a time,” she states. “If you just started focusing on one task and seeing it all the way through you get so much more accomplished.”
Imber, who has a PhD in organisational psychology, suggests our daily grind is not only killing our creativity, but it's inhibiting us from doing meaningful work.
“We need to switch off from social media, disengage from our emails and set about creating a work schedule that will allow us to be more productive and happy,” she says.