If you run a small business, your answer to “how are you?” is very likely to be “busy!”. I’m often asked where to start in order to free up more time when you’re doing everything, so here are 7 ways to make your small business more efficient to get you started.
- Use a project management program for your tasks, like Trello, so you always remember to do all your tasks and can plan your time.
- Use a digital calendar with automated reminders, and colour coordinate it so you can see at a glance client work, networking appointments, scheduled tasks, etc. Paper diaries can be very comforting, but the thought of losing all my client appointments terrifies me! If the digital calendar is on the cloud I can access it from any device; I’d have to work very hard to lose it.
- Every week take 30 minutes to review what went well (WWW), even better if (EBI) and what you’ve learnt for the future. This enables you to identify, celebrate, replicate and learn from successes; analyse what went wrong and how to avoid it in future, and define anything that you have learnt. Plan your next week – look at your diary, what and when do you need to prepare for appointments? What jobs need to be done around them? Plan what can get done. During the week you don’t have to think about whether you’re missing something, what you should be doing – just follow the instructions you already made for yourself.
- Process your finances regularly in batches – at least once a month, or weekly. Check your bank account reflects your in/outgoings. It’ll save you a lot of time trying to work out what happened 6 months ago! Learn more about batching here.
- Create marketing materials for the month ahead. Marketing is one of those jobs that comes with all small businesses and most owners haven’t done it before, so can be one of the biggest headaches. Get in the flow, spend half/whole day creating all your social media posts/blogs/newsletters. This is not only more efficient but means you can create stories and flow between the posts following your marketing strategy.
- Emails – Reply once or twice a day. By all means keep an eye on them through the day in case there are any real emergencies (depending on your business this is rare, if we are honest), but schedule in the time once a day to clear out your inbox – replying or filing everything, create tasks from any in your project management program and file the email. Inbox zero really is possible (my personal inbox is not quite as tidy – one day…).
- Keep on top of your sales pipeline. Depending on volume and what you need to see, you can do this in Excel, create a Trello board, or use a CRM (customer relationship management) program. If you want a CRM, Hubspot is a free CRM which has most of the functionality most small businesses would require.
Make your small business more efficient
Some of these ideas are quick and easy, some will take time to set up – choose the ones which will make the most difference to you.
Let me know how you get on making your small business more efficient!
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