Wearing many hats is the norm as a small business owner. You could be taking on the responsibility of marketer, accountant, salesperson and designer all at the same time. This amount of control over your business can feel very comfortable, but also very exhausting at times.
Working smarter rather than harder is the solution, and will free up time for you to focus on the tasks you love, which will make the stresses of running a business a bit easier to deal with whilst improving your productivity.
7 Tips for working smarter in your small business
1. Learn how to delegate
Being in full control of the going-ons within your business is something that many small business owners wish for, however there is a balance to this and many fail to delegate effectively to other team members.
Quite simply, you can’t do everything yourself and still expect to grow.
If you run a small business it can be difficult finding people to take on some of your work. This may be because you feel reluctant because you’re not convinced your staff will do the job as well as you. But you may be pleasantly surprised if you take a leap of faith with your employees; to be trusted with a new task is often empowering to staff and they might do a great job, reducing your workload.
If you don’t have full time employees to help you manage your workload, consider outsourcing some of the tasks to freelancers or agencies with proven track records.
2. Effectively set deadlines
It’s all too easy to avoid doing something if you know you have plenty of time, so set your own deadlines to encourage you to get it done. If you know the clock is ticking you’re far more likely to get on and finish the task in hand rather than putting it off until another day.
If you’re not setting deadlines against your work, you’re a lot less likely to get it done in a reasonable timeframe. Working to a deadline and knowing the clock is ticking reduces any procrastination, and helps prevent task switching, which distracts and interrupts your flow, making you less efficient.
3. Track your time to understand where you create the most value
By tracking the time you spend on tasks using a tool like Harvest, you can effectively work out what tasks you get completed the fastest and where you create the most value within your business. The Pareto principle (or 80/20 rule) states that 20% of your actions create 80% of your outcomes, so work out what that 20% is for you and focus your time there, delegating other tasks to other people.
4. Optimise your meetings
This can seem counterproductive, but consider whether you need to have a face to face meeting or whether a phone call or email would suffice. If a meeting is necessary, consider a standing meeting – it means people don’t get too comfortable, the points of discussion are dealt with much faster and people can get back to work more quickly.
It’s common knowledge that most of us spend too much time in meetings. By optimising your meetings – or opting for an alternative such as an email or phone call, you can save all attendees time and still create the same outcome. If you choose to go the meeting route, we recommend stating what outcome you’re after and creating a clear agenda. You can also opt for a standing meeting, which stops people becoming too comfortable and helps ensure the points of discussion are dealt with faster.
5. Make the most of your commute
If you have a lengthy commute into work, utilise the time effectively to prepare notes, write reports or check your email. If you’re in a car, make handsfree phone calls.
6. Automate your processes
If you spend lots of time filling out forms, creating reports, manually inputting data or managing staff rotas, there are plenty of fantastic HR softwares that can cut down the amount of time you spend on such tasks, saving you time and money. New advancements in software technology also mean HR Software with AI assistants have been released, to make these monotonous jobs even easier!
7. Stop ‘multitasking’
Yes, you may feel super-productive when you ‘multitask’, but it could be quite the contrary, negatively affecting your productivity. Juggling phone calls, writing emails and making notes looks impressive but according to PsychologyToday, multitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%. Most people can’t truly multitask effectively, and you might find in attempting to do so, details are missed and work takes longer to reach completion.