In life and in business, you are always your most valuable commodity. When it comes to starting your own business, you will be involved in every aspect, no matter how big or small. That may be manageable up to a point but you can’t create more hours in the day. What happens when you want to scale the business but can’t afford to take on staff yet? It’s time then to find ways to streamline your time, and improve your outputs.
Researching and making use of productivity tools is a good place to start. Finding ways to fine- tune your administration, win back time and optimise your output is win:win.
Where to start?
If you’re looking to make your business processes slicker, there are a few areas where small changes can make big differences. Consider where your pinch points are and choose one or two to start with. Evaluate their effectiveness after a couple of months to see whether you’re seeing the benefit. Then make strategic decisions from there.
You may find you’re spending a huge amount of time answering phone calls, emails, questions and enquiries. Consider making use of a virtual assistant or virtual receptionist service and see how much time that buys you. Have a look at services like eveva.co.uk or timeetc.co.uk.
Most small business owners will agree that the time spent on keeping financial paperwork and processes in order is weighty. In particular if your business processes are complex. If you are importing items. If you have staff to pay. Or if you are managing high volumes of overheads and revenue streams. There are many accounting tools that you can use to help ensure you are up to date and to streamline your financial process. Look into software such as Quick Books or Xero for cost-efficient accounting solutions. Also make sure that if you run any type of e-commerce site, that the software you choose syncs easily with your platform.
Launching a small business requires some design work. At minimum, the creation of a logo, some branding and a basic website. If graphic design is not your personal strength, take a look at consumer platform Canva. It provides pre-formatted templates to set up whatever graphic requirements you have. From logos to social posts, adverts to flyers, you’ll find templates to suit all your business needs even if you’re a complete beginner. You could also look to Fiverr where you can choose from a number of independent designers who work on bespoke projects for small prices.
Having a presence on social media is vital these days. However, the process of drafting content and posting it throughout the day is hugely time consuming. Try a social media scheduling tool (Facebook’s own scheduler is great to start with) or social media management programme like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sproutsocial. You’ll be able to batch-load tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates quickly and easily. Not only is it time saving but you’ll also find reporting tools to evaluate which of your posts are having the best impact. You’ll discover that this is essential in order to make the most out of your marketing strategy.
If you’re keen to keep in touch with your customers, especially when face-to-face contact might not be possible, an email is a good place to start. Consider using MailChimp or Campaign Monitor as a way to manage your mailing list, design and create your mailers, and track the success of each mailing. With useful information on industry open rates and tips to improve your mailings, it’s a no-brainer for small businesses.
Communicate and Collaborate
Keeping in touch with your employees or outside consultants can be complicated and confusing in particular where group conversations are necessary. Programmes like Slack or Trello are excellent to streamline your team communications, allow and archive continual conversations, and be a home to share documents and plans. Integrating Google Docs, Dropbox or Evernote are also great ways to share spreadsheets and large files, organise team data, and keep up to date with pending projects no mater where you’re working from.
Taking the step from business launch to business scaling is complex. Most small business owners are so entrenched in every aspect of their brand that it can be hard to separate themselves. Or indeed to find ways to responsibilise others whether by building a team or using productivity hacks. Working with programmes and software that allow you to gradually shave off responsibility and turn your attention elsewhere is a great way to start. Choosing just a few clever productivity tools could make a huge difference to your daily output. Even better, it can help propel your business in the right direction.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you. They are ready to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.