7 Crucial Time-Saving Tips for Small Businesses
What are some of the top challenges small business owners have to overcome? Cash flow problems, client dependence, and regulatory issues are a few. But did you know that one of the most common and sometimes overlooked challenges facing small business owners is fatigue?
Entrepreneurs are leaders driven by passion but they often overextend themselves. If you are a small business owner, you probably work extra-long hours and are perhaps mentally and emotionally connected to your business 24/7. It can seem as if there is always too much to do and too little time every day.
As a small business owner, you are undoubtedly ambitious and self-reliant. However, these positive traits can also cause you to be overworked, which can lead to disorganization, mistakes, missed deadlines, impulsive decision making, and burnout. These problems can put your business at risk.
One way you can avoid business owner burnout is to employ strategies and solutions designed to save you time. Below are a few tips that can help you shave minutes and, in some cases, hours off your day. These ideas can relieve some of the pressure caused by a variety of everyday business tasks. You’ll work more efficiently, improve productivity, and save money. Having some breathing room in your work day can help you stay focused, refreshed, and ready to tackle your next business goal.
Outsource certain AP & AR tasks
Efficient management of accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) is critical for business success but staying on top of all those transactions can be challenging and time consuming. Improper management can affect your cash flow, your credit, and a variety of other business functions.
To help your business manage its accounts payable and accounts receivable, consider using an outside resource for some cash management tasks. You’ll free up your in-house accounting staff so that they can take on other responsibilities.
United Bank has a suite of accounts payable and accounts receivable services that make it easier to administer payroll, transfer money, pay bills, and make and collect payments.
Reserve time for social media
Social media management can be a real time sucker. If you are responsible for your company’s social media – and your business should have a social media presence for attracting and retaining customers – there are strategies and tools that can help facilitate processes.
Set aside time one day a month to create content and source all your images for the following month’s social content calendar. Once you have created your content, use social media management tools to upload and schedule your posts. By working in advance, you’ll avoid having to rush to post content at the last minute, plus you will have enough lead time to revise your content if needed.
Buffer is a social media management platform that allows you to schedule your posts and can also provide analysis of social engagement. Hootsuite gives you the ability to monitor social media mentions across networks. There are many other social media management solutions to choose from so research your options and select the one that best meets your needs and budget.
On a daily basis, schedule some time for reviewing and responding to the comments and messages on your social networks. If possible, stay efficient and try to limit your time to about 15 minutes per platform.
Boost meeting productivity
Meetings can get a bad rap, primarily because they can be unproductive, unfocused, and too long. Inefficient meetings are not only painful, they also take all the attendees away from other work they could do be doing. Even worse? You could end up having even more meetings! Here are some easy tips to make your meetings more constructive:
- Establish a strict start and end time. Shorter meetings equal better attention spans. This Fast Company article touts the benefits of meetings that are just 15 minutes.
- Write a meeting agenda and distribute it to attendees prior to the meeting. This gives people an opportunity to prepare for whatever will be discussed.
- Designate a meeting facilitator. This person should be able to identify when the meeting is going off-track, guide it back to where it should be, and alert attendees when the meeting is about to end.
- Decide if you require a meeting at all. Do you need to get an entire team together or could you have a one-on-one discussion? Can you communicate via email or a project management or collaboration tool? Everyone’s time is valuable. Be selective when having meetings and choosing whom to invite.
Develop process guides
Create guides for frequently used business processes and procedures. Everyone will receive consistent direction and you’ll increase training efficiency.
Streamline your information reporting
Accurate tracking and archiving of your accounts is essential for planning, compliance, and making better, faster business decisions. Make sure your company has access to information reporting services that allow you to retrieve robust account information at a moment’s notice. You’ll minimize frustration and wasted time searching for the data you need, and you’ll be able to react quickly to any that issues arise.
Some valuable information reporting solutions include online cash management, electronic statements, account reconciliation, and image archives. From viewing real-time balances to retrieving transaction lists, these services can give you immediate access to information that can help you do more.
If you find yourself continually writing and/or designing the same types of emails, presentations, reports and marketing collateral, creating templates can be a smart time-saver.
For example, determine your most commonly asked emailed questions. Write a response and design a template that works for each. This will give you and your staff a library of email templates to choose from whenever they need to respond to an email. While you should always customize your message, having a template gives you a starting point so you don’t have to start from scratch every time you need to send a response.
Having pre-approved templates can also expedite the internal approval process and create brand consistency.
With so many virtual conference platforms available today, it is easy to minimize the need for in-person meetings. In addition to video and audio conferencing, most platforms also offer screen sharing, editing tools and other collaboration features.
Having virtual meetings greatly improves time management because it eliminates the need to travel. People can attend a meeting from just about anywhere – even if they are on the road or working from home. This minimizes downtime caused by travel and increases productivity. Virtual meetings also reduce travel costs. There is no need to pay for gas, airfare, rental cars, hotels, etc.
Skype, Cisco WebEx, and GoToMeeting are some of the most popular virtual meeting platform choices, and some services offer free versions.
We all work with the same 24 hours, but how you use them can make all the difference when it comes to business success. With these tips, you can carve some extra minutes out of your day, reduce your stress and help your company thrive.
NOTE: The third parties mentioned above are not related to United Bank. The links to third parties are provided as courtesy and United Bank doesn’t recommend or endorse the content of the third party sites.