Small business owners often resolve to work more hours for the freedom of choosing their own boss. But any way you look at it, we all have only 24 hours in our day, so working longer has its limits. Still most business owners wouldn’t trade the stress and long hours for anything in the world. Discovering the keys to working smarter will give you more time to enjoy other pursuits.
It’s not just about wrestling some free time out of the clutches of obligations. Working smarter makes you more efficient, which means more revenue. But you can’t increase efficiency to the point it alienates customers. It’s a fine balance. Here are some efficiency tips for you and your team that will not negatively impact your customers.
Chunk It All
The most efficient shoppers among us know their grocery stores well and they may even organize their list accordingly. This means less time meandering around the store and going up and down the same aisles for different items. For instance, you pick up all of your produce needs at once instead of getting string beans and then going for meat, only to come back around again for corn.
This is the concept of chunking. Organize your To-Do list so that like activities go with like. Perform similar activities back-to-back to be more efficient. Many efficiency experts suggest slots of time for answering emails. This allows you to get into the mindset and hit the task with all of your attention, instead of allowing it to disrupt you at unplanned times throughout the day.
Automate What You Can
You can’t automate relationships but most everything else is worth a try. Automate social media posts but leave time for real-time interaction with your audience. You need good content and you need to be out there. Use FAQs on your website to help people self-serve and get the answer they need without calling and asking the same things. This doesn’t replace your customer service, merely assists them in answering questions that never change, aka hours, address, phone number, etc.
Kill the Meetings
One of the largest time sucks in your day is probably status meetings that go on forever. Stick to your agenda. Think of your team meeting as a huddle not a marathon. Hold them standing up because it will cut down on long, drawn out monologues. While bonding is important, you can do that elsewhere through team lunches or after-hours events. Get the information you need and then get everyone back to work.
Move to the Cloud
There is no need for any employees to be hampered by a lack of information they require to do their jobs. Moving your information to the cloud will give people more opportunities for collaboration and it will kill the excuse of, I didn’t have it with me. Unplanned things come up, ideas hit. Giving employees access to what they need to do their jobs well is critical to your success and improving efficiency.
One of the biggest time sucks outside of meetings is employing the wrong person. Someone who is not a good fit for your business will not only be less efficient than someone who is, but they will also wear down others and sink morale. Every employee you have represents your business in our social media-driven world. Hiring wrong is more detrimental to your brand than running an ineffective campaign.
A final tip about productivity: For an efficient business you must have the right team, that has access to the right tools, with no obstacles in their way. As the owner of a small business one of the most crucial things you can do to improve efficiency is hire well, outfit the team with what they need, and ensure nothing gets in their way. Now maybe you can get a couple of hours for yourself.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.