Entrepreneurs are like snowflakes—each one of us is unique. But the one trait nearly all of us share—we don’t have enough time in our days to get it all done. It’s not that we’re managing our time wrong (though that may be a contributing factor). Small business owners just have so much to do.
It’s not like there aren’t any consequences when we run out of time. While you spend time working on some more mundane tasks, something important could fall through the cracks, costing you a lucrative opportunity.
Given there will never be more than 24 hours in a day, here are some tips for maximizing productivity, so you can focus on growing your small business:
Use a Calendar
Sounds simple, right? But too many business owners just don’t bother. If you’d rather use a physical calendar, that’s fine. It’s important to use the type of calendar you’re most comfortable with, so you’ll actually use it.
That said, keeping multiple calendars in different places increases the chances something won’t get entered, and you’ll miss calls, appointments, or meetings.
A smart choice is using a cloud-based calendar. This enables you to create one central calendar, so you can access your information wherever you are on any of your devices.
Part of the calendaring process is scheduling. Each of us has our own natural rhythms; some of us are morning people; others are night owls. You know yourself; try to book critical business tasks when you’re “up” and most alert.
It’s also essential to prioritize your to-dos. Keep your to-do list short—you’ll only be discouraged by how much you didn’t accomplish if you have a list of 21 things you need to do. Identify the most important tasks and work on those first. Chances are, these are revenue-generating activities that can’t be ignored. Realize when you focus on your top priorities, smaller, more mundane day-to-day responsibilities might get overlooked.
Look at those tasks you don’t have time for and decide how or who can tackle them. You have three primary options: delegate, automate, or outsource.
Many small business owners are reluctant to delegate to employees because it’s hard to let go of your “baby,” and you likely think no one can do the job as well as you can. Of course, that’s nonsense. If you give your employees responsibilities that stretch their skills, both of you will benefit.
If the thought of delegating still makes you nervous, start with low-value tasks.
Use tech tools to simplify and automate whatever job duties you possibly can. Check out relevant apps and cloud-based solutions to automate repetitive tasks and activities. CRM solutions, for example, allow you to store details about prospects, vendors, and customers so you or your employees can quickly reach them.
Create templated responses to common questions so you can cut and paste them in a letter, memo, or email response.
If you work globally, use email autoresponders to let people in different time zones know what time zone you’re in and approximately when you will get back to them. Say something like, “Thank you for your email. We’re in the XX time zone and will try to get back to you in the next 48 hours.”
There is no shortage of solutions that can be automated, including accounting, email, project management, booking appointments, database management, payment processing, and more.
Tasks that are labor-intensive and time-sensitive, like managing your accounts payable and receivables, are ideal candidates for automation. Check out a solution like Bill.com. They’ve automated the billing and payment processes.
When you find companies that automate tasks, consider outsourcing those jobs to them. Not only does that save you time that can be allocated to activities that generate revenue, but in many cases, their systems add a layer of security your business does not have.
Bill.com can create invoices and bill your clients (eliminating the chance of human error) and pay your bills as well. Think of the time you and your staff will save by outsourcing your payables and receivables. And since the system is cloud-based, you can access your information anywhere you have an internet connection.
A key component of successful outsourcing is making sure the automated tools you choose work together seamlessly. For instance, Bill.com integrates with accounting solutions like QuickBooks, Oracle NetSuite, Xero, Sage Intacct, and other financial apps like Expensify and Tallie.
The paradox of an entrepreneur’s life is, the more your business grows, the more tasks and responsibilities you will likely need to delegate, automate, and outsource. So, you want to find simple, efficient, cloud-based solutions that free up your time so you can focus on the jobs that make you money.
Bill.com does all that. Give it a try, risk-free today!
This blog post was originally published here and republished with permission.