How to Run Your Business More Efficiently
You started your business with passion and a vision, thinking it would be a great adventure. Now you’re spending your days bogged down by administrative details while your passion smolders in a forgotten corner of your mind.
Wouldn’t it be great to stop wasting time on busy work and return to the true purpose of your business? Wouldn’t you rather make real connections with customers, establish a stable cash flow, and still have time to spend with friends and family?
Believe it or not, it is possible. You can break the chains of everyday drudgery and enjoy a real balance between work and life if you’re willing to give your businesses processes a makeover. Here are nine practical tips to get you started.
Pin Down Your Biggest Time Wasters
It’s two in the afternoon. How many of your employees are on Facebook? Are you checking your email yet again? How many times today have you answered the phone in the middle of another task? All of these distractions add up to a lot of wasted time over the course of a business day. According to one study, employees may spend as much as five hours every week on personal tasks, adding up to $15 billion in lost productivity every year across the U.S.
Time tracking apps help you keep tabs on your own time sucks and get a visual on common employee distractions. You can monitor which websites everyone spends the most time on during business hours and keep track of how much of the day is used for projects. This not only reveals where productivity is suffering but also gives insight into potential bottlenecks in your business processes. If employees are concentrating on projects for most of the day but still failing to meet deadlines, find out what’s causing the delays, and create a fix to make their jobs easier.
Quit Multi-Tasking for Good
It’s impossible to work on two jobs requiring real concentration at the same time. You might be able to walk and chew gum or text and listen to your favorite music, but one of the tasks is being done automatically while your mind focuses on the other.
Switching back and forth between tasks requires your brain to re-orient itself every time you change what you’re doing, and it can take over 25 minutes to fully recover from the distraction. You may think you’re being more productive, but in reality, you waste most of the day on mental recovery. It’s likely you also spend a good deal of time fixing mistakes you wouldn’t have made if you dedicated yourself to one task at a time instead.
This practice, known as “single-tasking,” forces you to pay attention to the job at hand. In doing so, you retain concentration, get deeper into your work and get more done. Adopt single-tasking as a habit in your own work and among all your teams to reclaim precious minutes lost to the myth of multitasking.
Clean Up Your Messy Office
If you spent half an hour trying to locate a particular file this morning, your office is too disorganized. Chances are most of your employees’ workspaces are suffering from the same thing. Time spent sifting through junk to find the proverbial needle in a haystack is time taken away from productive work, so if you have no idea where anything is, it’s time to clean up.
Dedicate a few hours or even a whole day to getting rid of unneeded clutter and making specific places for important papers and items. Encourage your employees to do the same. The faster you can get your hands on what you need to stay on the ball during the work day, the more efficient you’ll be.
Make Accounting Software Your Friend
Accounting is a boring but necessary business evil. Why not let software handle most of it for you? Try a platform like Freshbooks, Zoho Books, Quickbooks Online, Xero, or Wave to organize financial data, minimize errors and slash the time you spend on taxes. Take advantage of automatic calculation of deductions to hold onto more of your profits come tax time.
Embrace the Power of Integration
Don’t be one of those business owners who still thinks automation isn’t the future. Automating workflows is a must for modern companies, and apps are built to simplify the processes as much as possible by allowing amazing combinations of integrations.
Do you have a CRM, a CMS or an ERP system? How about an email provider and tools to automate your marketing? Check out what you can link together, and get cracking on streamlining your systems. With a little ingenuity, you can connect:
- Customer service
- Human resources
- Shipping and fulfillment
Integrating your processes reduces time spent on data entry, delivers real-time updates across departments and minimizes human error. The faster you and your employees can access information, the easier it is to maintain productivity throughout the day.
Get Paid on Time, Every Time
Another trick to smart automation is using payment apps to handle orders, invoicing, recurring payments, and mobile credit card processing. There’s nothing more frustrating than sending out a batch of invoices and having to chase after clients with reminders when their payments are late. Meanwhile, you’re trying to operate without the money they were supposed to send you weeks ago.
Automated payment apps banish the stress of this endless cycle and let you get on with more important work. Invoices are issued at the time of an order, and recurring invoices go out without the need for you to do anything at all. Payment reminders are sent automatically to prompt customers to settle their accounts on time. They have no excuse to slack off if you use a platform with the option of letting them save their information the first time they pay you so that they can make quick payments in the future.
Collaborate Like a Smart Person
Email, messages, projects, document sharing, and everything else involved in making your business what you want it to be creates so much busy work if you’re not using the right platforms. Even if your employees stop multitasking during the day and wait until they’re home to watch the latest viral videos, they’re still not going to hit peak productivity if collaboration requires switching between multiple apps.
This is where team tools like Asana, Trello, Slack, Canva, and DropBox come in handy. Based in the cloud and accessible from just about everywhere, these are the platforms your employees need to be at the top of their games all day, every day. Collaborative tools bring all the basics together in one place, so your teams don’t have to spend their time chasing each other down for information or waiting for updated versions of files to continue working on projects. Plus, you get the benefit of setting deadlines and monitoring work to make sure everything goes according to plan.
Outsource Stuff You Hate
Remember your mom making you eat your Brussels sprouts before you could have dessert? Today’s smart business owners hire someone else to eat the sprouts while they skip straight to the cookies because it takes a lot longer to slog through something you hate than to find someone else to do it for you.
List all the tasks you can’t stand doing or for which you don’t have the talent or resources available within your company, and check out these platforms to find someone who’s willing to handle the work instead:
- Time etc
Outsourcing requires a small extra monetary investment, but if it allows you to pay attention to what you actually want to do and get more done during the day, you should be able to more than make up for whatever you spend.
Evaluate Your New Processes
Promoting efficiency is great as long as the changes you make actually work. Once you’ve put new processes in place, monitor the results. Which ones allow you and your staff to work smarter and better? Are any systems more frustrating or difficult than what they replaced? Ask for feedback from employees, and don’t be afraid to scrap an idea and go back to the drawing board if it’s not working out the way you hoped.
Do you feel like you can breathe a sigh of relief now? With these efficiency hacks in your back pocket, you can finally start running your business the way you want, free up some personal time and have a life outside of work. Implement as many as are practical for your company, and get your employees on board. They’ll love getting out from under busy work as much as you do, and they’ll appreciate being able to have real time with their families instead of living at work, sleeping under their desks, and taking showers in the break room.
On the financial side, working toward greater efficiency can stabilize your cash flow and boost your ROI. What’s not to love about a consistent stream of profits, a strong customer base and more money in your bank account? Get started today, and make tweaks over time to create the most efficient, productive business processes possible.