There’s never enough time. We’ve all thought it. Probably once a week, if not once a day.
In fact, the belief is so ingrained in twenty first century thinking, that we kill ourselves looking for quick fixes to save a few minutes here and an hour there. But while many cleverly-crafted apps have helped to shave some time off many of our daily tasks, no amount of tools can fix a convoluted or defunct process.For small business owners, efficiencies can take a serious nosedive when your ecosystem isn’t running smoothly - that’s everything from clearly defined processes, to a properly trained team communicating effectively to prevent breakdowns in progress.
One of our favourite ways to streamline processes is implementing a customer relationship management system like the Salesforce or HubSpot.
Interestingly, when you scan through our best practices, they’re the same guiding principles we’d share with any small business owner… because when you boil it down, they’re the sure-fire ways to save time, while staying on track and operating optimally.
Read on for our 6 best practices for saving time in your small business. While you may have heard some of these time saving tips before, whip out your checklist… because if you aren’t doing these simple business building musts, you can definitely find more time in your day.
Best Practice #1: Have a Clearly-Defined Vision
Know where you’re going and build out your roadmap - but don’t stop there. Revisit your vision regularly to ensure you’re on track. Share your road-map company wide. Read people in.
One of the biggest time-wasters is lack of clarity when it comes to action steps. Everyone within your organization must be working in alignment, with clearly defined S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) , so they are accountable and inspired. The goals people set should all build up to the company’s larger vision. No matter how big or small the task, everything the company is doing should be working towards a large ambitious goal.
Talk about your vision regularly. Not just in once a year meetings, but in regular status meetings make sure the vision is shared so everyone knows the direction they should be headed.
Best Practice #2: Schedule in Advance
Meetings are one thing - those often get scheduled in advance - but consider scheduling your other deliverables in advance as well. Whether we’re talking about checking email, conducting research, or developing content, cut out that time spent procrastinating and percolating over your to-do list and rather commit to a predetermined schedule for your week. The bonus here is that once you get into a flow, you’ll be able to fire up ten LinkedIn posts and schedule them in advance for the week, rather than struggling to craft one each day.
Best Practice #3: Stick to Time-Blocking
Using your schedule as a springboard, stick to your time-blocks firmly. If you’re striving to complete a report in an hour block and it’s simply taking much longer than expected, don’t derail your entire day by pushing back the rest of your schedule. Particularly in a small business, you’re part of a delicate ecosystem and a chink in the chain can cause major blowback.
Instead, aim to switch gears according to your schedule and find another time for circling back to that runaway task. But hey, we know there are exceptions to every rule and some deliverables are top priority. The good news is that once you’re conscious of how much time you intend to spend on each task, you’re in the driver’s seat about how best to rejig your schedule (and gauge the potential impact for the rest of the team).
Best Practice #4: Avoid Multi-Tasking
We hear you. When you’ve got a mountain of a to-do list and the stakes are high, you feel like you’ve got no choice but to hammer out a couple emails while you’re in the middle of reviewing that report. Or call the partner office while you’re crunching sales numbers. But don’t. Just don’t.
Despite our culture propagating multi-tasking, it’s really focus and presence that allows us to produce quality work efficiently and quickly. When you try to complete two tasks at once, it will take twice as long because your mind will be struggling to focus between the two situations. In your frazzled state, you’ll read and re-read your work to ensure it’s correct… and even so, you’ll probably realize you need to make more edits later because you weren’t concentrating properly.
We urge you to operate with a different approach. Concentrate, be present, do it right the first time. In the long run, you’ll save time and you won’t compromise the quality of your product.
Best Practice #5: Automate What You Can
With the right business tools, many of the tasks small business owners would previously have considered on the daily or weekly docket can in fact now be set up at the beginning of the month or the quarter through automation.
The automation function is one of CRM's most underutilized functions, but it truly saves businesses significant time, and more importantly, it allows decision makers to reallocate their brain-power towards strategy, meaning they can work more ‘on the business’ and focus on growth, rather than being stuck in the weeds ‘working in the business.’
The key here is having your CRM system set up properly, once your strategy and processes have been clearly defined.
Best Practice #6: Delegate to Your Superstar Team
If you’re a small to medium sized business owner who has trouble delegating… raise your hand.Everyone reading this article raises a hand
It’s classic for an entrepreneur, who has built his or her business from the ground up, to struggle with handing work off. You probably think no one could execute as well as you. But seriously, you’re holding things up. You’re wasting time. You’ve got great people, let them show you what they can do.
The key to delegating is two-fold: ensure you have processes clearly defined so you are setting the entire team up for success and mutual appreciation of everyone’s contributions… and - we cannot stress this enough - invest in proper training.
Your team is battling on your behalf. Arm them properly with the skills, tools and context to help shoulder the responsibility of striving toward your business goals. By putting specialists in place that really know their stuff, you’ll end up saving a lot of time without jeopardizing the quality of your work.
At the end of the day, time is money - and whether you’re giving yourself some of that currency back to reinvest strategically in your business, or you’re saving it up to spend more quality time with your family - when you free up a few extra hours through time-saving best practices and efficiency tools like CRM, you’ll find more balance in your business without letting go of any of the success you’ve been striving for.