You run a small business or you're your own boss, a freelancer, sole trader or contractor. You might even be thinking about creating a brand new start-up business. Either way your most precious commodity is time, and a lot business owners like you struggle to find enough of it.
In a world where focusing in the right direction, on the right things, in the right way, can make all the difference between success and failure, it makes sense to harness all the time-saving tips you can possibly find to help you claw back precious time and be as efficient and effective as you can. Here are 30 tips to help you do exactly that.
30 tips to save small businesses and sole traders time
1.Plenty of us are a bit rubbish at delegation. But delegation is a skill you'll need as your business grows, so you may as well get cracking now. What do you hate doing? Is there anything that makes you groan inside when you think about it? Anything you're actually not very good at? Delegate it and you'll add to your happiness quotient as well as feeling less stressed and becoming the happy owner of more time. If there's a lot to hand over, consider hiring a VA
2.Make a plan for every week and another for each day so you know what needs to be done and don't miss out on anything vital. A plan will help you set goals, too
3.Set goals. A simple tick list will help you achieve the things you want to do that day. Make the list a priority list, with the most important things allocated to the time of day you feel the most awake, efficient and business-like
4.Do the things you dislike most, first. Then your day can only get better. It means you'll enjoy the day more, and be more efficient and effective as a result
5.Break big jobs down into several smaller ones so they feel less daunting and easier to achieve. It's all about elephant sandwiches. You can't eat a whole elephant at one sitting, but making it into lots of sandwiches makes the job a lot easier!
6.Being aware of your own limitations helps you be more realistic about what you can do in the time available – search your soul!
7.Limit social media to certain times of day so you don't drift into spending all day fiddling with it. If you need to manage several social media accounts at once, use a social media management tool
8.Only check your emails at certain times so they don't take over your world
9.Bear in mind deadlines, as long as they're realistic, are really helpful for getting things done within the right timescale
10.Value daydreaming. Science shows that drifting off is actually a good thing, giving our minds a rest, letting them get creative for a while, and taking the pressure off. Nobody can remain focused for hours on end, it isn't human, so don't even try
11.Take breaks. Your body and mind need them
12.Learn how to politely disengage yourself from distracting conversations
13.Don't bother trying to multi-task – you'll only end up not doing anything properly
14.Set aside a time of day to return calls rather than doing it ad hoc throughout the day
15.Reward yourself for ticking tasks off your list – a coffee, a short break, a call to a friend, a play on social media
16.Perfectionism is rarely helpful – never sacrifice the 'good enough' because you're obsessed with the 'perfect'
17.If you don't need to think about it, don't think about it. Shelve it until you do need to think about it!
18.File your email messages so they're easy to find. If you know you'll never need an email again, delete it
19.Minimalise meetings – they can waste such a lot of time. Make calls or email instead, or hold virtual meetings. If you absolutely must have a meeting make sure you have a strict agenda so it can't run on and on. Sometimes it's like herding cats, so if you're not good at keeping people under control bring in an independent facilitator
20.Don't assume digital solutions are always the best. If business life is complex, use project management or collaboration software. If it isn't, don't. You'll only over-complicate things unnecessarily. Accounting software is great of you have a lot of different customers to handle or a load of invoices to do. If not, and you can simply use a basic spreadsheet, do that instead. Sometimes a pen and paper is all you need, and a digital solution is just overkill
21.Use apps to support you, but go through them regularly and ditch those you don't actually use – it's far too easy to get app-happy
22.Keep your office and desk tidy, clear and free of clutter so you can always find the stuff you need without rummaging
23.Use templates for the things you use frequently: invoices, quotes, whatever
24.Learn the fine art of saying 'no', a lot easier when you're in charge than it is when you're employed by someone else. Saying 'no' means you won't get overwhelmed
25.Work during working hours, stop work when it's the end of the working day. Working 24/7/365 doesn't do anyone any good. When you're tired you miss important things, forget things, get things wrong... it really isn't worth it
26.Housekeep your filing systems so they're always tidy, up to date, efficient and fit for purpose
27.Think about working a four day week. There's a lot of new science saying it's better to work harder for four days than coast for five
28.Feel free to say 'do not disturb'. Very like the fine art of saying no, it can be a sanity-saver!
29.Know when you've bitten off more than you can chew, and back down if that's the case. There's no business value in over-extending yourself
30.Use the 4D system for dealing with random, unexpected 'to-do' items that arrive throughout the day. If it'll take less than 2 minutes, just do it and get it over with. If not either add it to your list for later, delegate it, or if it's simply not important, ditch it
If you're at the delegation stage and you're looking for top class business support, why not talk to us? We'll help you get your business life in shape and performing to the max.
Call us now on 01273 447111