Time management is probably the most challenging part of running a small business. It’s common for start-up entrepreneurs to feel the need to control every aspect of their business, eating up valuable time in the process. While it might work relatively well when you’re just starting and running a small-scale operation, as your business grows it becomes impossible to be master of all things.
As the old saying goes, time is money, and the secret to success is to learn how to manage your day correctly. With a little forward planning, you can eke out extra precious hours from your work schedule while still covering all bases.
Here are a few tried and tested tips for maximizing your productivity.
Outsource wherever and whenever possible
Outsourcing is a fantastic way to raise your profit margins without increasing your fixed overheads. As home working becomes more prevalent, it’s quite likely your business will have already invested in software and systems to allow your staff to work remotely. These systems could be used equally well with freelancers, brought in as and when your company needs them.
Outsourcing to specialist freelancers can open your business to a world of opportunities and skills that simply aren’t possible with full-time, fixed employees. It frees up your business to hire on-demand, drafting help on an ad hoc, per-project basis without incurring the responsibilities and overhead of full-time staff.
Maximize your use of internet resources
The Internet is the largest, most diverse, and most comprehensive library of information in history. No matter what problem your company might be facing, you can be sure someone somewhere has already documented it online.
While sites like Google are an excellent resource for finding answers to problems and doing general research, more specialized platforms take search to another level.
For example, Octopart is a fantastic resource for finding specialized electronic components — specific parts you simply won’t find in the more general search engines. Pieces can be searched by type, size, function, or material and purchased directly from the manufacturer.
Where possible, automate
Automation is moving into every area of our lives and AI is also beginning to play an essential role across many aspects of business, particularly in areas where the work is highly repetitive.
There is a common misconception that automation is limited purely to robotics and machines, but modern AI software moves the process far beyond just physical tasks.
Automation in the workplace can range from the way your website processes orders to how those orders are delivered (product fulfillment). Other areas include smart accounting software, human resources packages, automatic email contact systems and AI website chatbots to deal with first stage enquiries.
One of the most difficult concepts for any entrepreneur is the notion of entrusting critical operations to other people. Most often, businesses start on a small scale, typically just one person running the entire show in the early days.
It can be incredibly difficult to hand over control of your company to another person, but without delegation, you will never grow. You simply cannot handle all aspects of your business as it takes off and a failure to recruit staff — and delegate responsibilities — will ultimately see your company stagnate and possibly fail.
Follow the 80–20 rule
The 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of your results are generated from just 20% of your efforts. In basic terms, this means 80% of your sales are likely to come from 20% of your customers and it’s a rule that is surprisingly accurate for almost all businesses.
Make the 80-20 rule your mantra. Identify the highest-earning sides of your business and put all your efforts into them.
Many entrepreneurs believe the only way to be successful is to work tirelessly. While, of course, putting in the hours is important, hard work is only one small part of the story. The most successful companies are those that identify their strengths and concentrate on them. Look for the areas where you see the most growth (or growth potential) and focus on them to glean the best results. By working productively rather than simply toiling endlessly, you’ll see the greatest return for your efforts.