Being a small business owner is synonymous with being a workaholic. Each morning I grab my hot cup of coffee and dive in, often only getting up to workout and have dinner. Yes, when you love what you do it often doesn’t seem like “work” but I have learned how to work “smarter” and not “harder.”
Not every day needs to be a 12-hour workday. With the right tools and services implemented, you can actually enjoy your evenings (or better yet your life!)
Efficiency can be gained in a variety of places, but as you well know, running a business is complicated and it may be overwhelming just to figure out where to start. Streamlining your small business will keep you from burning the candle at both ends. Evaluate the impact that each of the areas that need improvement will have on the bottom line, your customers, those that you may be working with (i.e. business partners, suppliers and employees) and of course you!
Where to start? Streamline these 5 areas of your business first.
Manage Tasks Effectively
As a small business owner, you may experience the never-ending-to-do list that keeps you working at all hours of the day and night. So it goes without saying that effective task and time management is a critical component to a streamlined business. With planners, highlighted calendars, phone reminders and to-do lists galore we are all over the place trying to get organized!
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing more satisfying than making a to-do list and crossing off each item as they are accomplished, but what if you could manage your daily tasks in one place? Implementing a free software program such as Producteev will sync with your Google Calendar and allows access to various platforms and allows for multiple workspaces for employees. This is extremely beneficial because not only will you be able to see tasks in order of importance but can delegate in less time and be updated instantaneously with project management. As my great friend and CEO of Women Network, Michelle Patterson says, “Choose 3 things that need to get done and focus on those.”
Most questions, comments and concerns are generally directed to you from customers or deflected to you by employees. To keep from getting stuck in the time trap of constant interruptions, recognize that not ALL decisions and questions need an immediate response. It is OK to put up an auto-responder on your email for the afternoon or screen your phone calls. This allows both the customer and employees to see that you are currently working on something else and cannot be interrupted. By limiting interruptions you will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.
*A great tip is to set a timer for certain tasks and avoid all interruptions until the timer is up.
Standardize Business Processes
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you have already implemented successful business operations that are working for you and your business, then why change it? They key is to stay consistent and standardize your processes. Anything from file formats to emailing clients and customers. In the long run this will save you time training and retraining and employees and everything should be much easier to keep organized.
Organize Inventory and Keep Accurate Records
So you think you are organized? Let me guess, if you are a consumer based business owner, you are probably using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your inventory stock and sell through. Well I am here to tell you this is a thing of the past and there are multiple reasons why. It is inaccurate and will cost YOU time, money and stress. Instead try one of the many inexpensive automated inventory control system. This will allow you more time to do things that are even more important than tracking down an order that didn’t get logged in Excel.
Leverage your Business
Ultimately growing your small business would be the end goal, but you must first be able to maximize current output. Often, owners concentrate on growing their business first to make more, but then miss out on leveraging their business by being efficient. What it comes down to is outdated software and ineffective business methods will keep you from where you could be.
Starting, running and becoming a successful business is not easy, but by being proactive to streamline your operations you improve information flow, productivity and accuracy. And hey, maybe even have a little more free time for yourself! 🙂
© 2012 Inspired Living, LLC
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Keri Murphy and the Inspired Living team is on a mission to empower people to use their unique talents in a way that allows them to Dream, Live and BE all that is possible through speaking, coaching, celebrity interviews and original on-line content. Get Inspired at inspiredliving.tv