7 creative ways to save time running your small business

As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Between employees and customers, operations and sales, the saying “butter scraped over too much bread” is an understatement. In fact, our research shows that having enough time for everything is the #2 biggest worry for small business owners.

The purpose of this article is to give you practical tips to save time every day running your business. By the end, you should feel freed up and empowered with more time.

Let’s start with a question: if you could make a clone of yourself made, what would it do?

It’s a weird question, we know. But it gets at something deeper.

Your answer will likely reveal what you would do if you had more time in your day. If you could be twice as productive, what would you do with the extra time?

We know you never have enough time. But what if there were creative and actionable ways to “create” more time — are there things you can do that would put more time on the clock, either for business or for personal reasons?

Here are 7 tips for saving more time:

1. Hire generalists

There are two types of employees: generalists and specialists. Specialists are hyper-skilled and focused on one (often technical) field of work. For example, a computer programmer, a chef, a graphic designer, a litigation lawyer are all specialists with strong skills in one area. They have deep expertise.

On the other hand, a generalist can be good at a lot of things. They may not have the depth of a specialist, but they can perform a number of tasks well. In your small business, it might make sense to look for generalists as employees. For example, you can train one employee to manage inventory, sell products to customers, and execute digital marketing campaigns on social media. Or maybe the assistant manager is also a writer who can blog for your website.

The more tasks your employees can do, the less you have to do them, the more time you will have.

2. Farm out some work

There are probably things you don’t want to do. Bookkeeping. Taxes. Events. Emails. Customer support. Marketing.

Not your cup of tea?

When you don’t have the talent in-house, it may be worth bringing in a contractor to knock it out. Instead of using your precious time, make a deal with a specialist who can do it well and fast. It’s a low-commitment way to get some quality specialized work done without having to pay for employee benefits or long-term wages.

Try sites like upwork.com, fiverr.com, or ask around your network for someone local.

3. Install new technology tools

We are in the age of automation. Instead of hiring a contractor, you might be able to cut down your workflow with software applications. Here are some examples:

  • Did you know you can track a customer’s entire transaction history with your business with Womply Customer Directory?
  • Is your POS updated and accepting all credit cards?
  • Intuit software is excellent for bookkeeping (Quickbooks, Mint, TurboTax, etc.)
  • Are your devices connected to the cloud? It’s a secure and easy way to access your thoughts, data, and documents from any device wherever you are — no more emailing attachments

These are only a handful of ways to automate your workflow with tech tools and save time.

4. Read books

Might sound rudimentary, but a book can change your life.

We know. Books take time to read. But the time it will save you down road could be priceless.

For example, One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard: you could read it in a day and chop your management time per week in half.

Lean Startup by Eric Ries could show you where you have unnecessary bloat in your operations.

5 Signs of a Miserable Job and The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni: incredible books that will transform your leadership and motivate your employees.

5. Say no

Many times a business owner feels they need to be in control of everything and end up doing it all. This isn’t scaleable. By saying “yes” all the time, you may take on more work than you can handle, overcommit yourself, add stress, and lose focus. Leverage the “power of No” so that:

  • You can delegate tasks to capable, trustworthy employees
  • You can clear your calendar of pointless meetings and worthless events (careful though!)
  • You can spend more time with your family at home

6. Leverage your smartphone to its fullest capabilities

You have a powerful tool in your pocket. Use the reminders. Sync your calendars. Here are some more recommendations:

  • Use Evernote for organizing your thoughts and visions
  • Use DocuSign for signing contracts on the go
  • Use Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box for file sharing and storage
  • Use Basecamp for team and project management
  • CamCard for storing business cards digitally

The list goes on. Save hours of time with the right apps on your mobile device.

7. Write down everything you learn

As you build your business, you learn things over the years, like how to handle a snarky customer or to order new inventory. Writing down what you learn will help you remember those helpful tricks and keep the rest of the company on the same page.

Written documents — guides, notes, handbooks, manifestos — are extremely beneficial for new employees. As long as you take the time to keep them updated and don’t over-complicate things, these company materials can save you and your team a lot of time.

These tips can help you save time running your business and while they may take time to set up initially, you’ll eventually begin to notice greater returns on your time. With the right staff, tools, and processes in place, you won’t even need a clone of yourself.

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