Small business owners know there aren't enough hours in the day, and though you can't turn back the clock you can take advantage of the following opportunities to take some of the “busy” out of your business.
1. Print address labels: Communication is vital to business success. Address labels and other pre-printed materials such as letterhead save time typing or handwriting correspondence. Even if you only have a few items to send each day or week, throughout a year (or decade) you can easily save dozens or even hundreds of hours by pre-printing address labels, envelopes and letterhead.
2. Use templates: If you print marketing materials or engage in contracts with business partners or customers, having pre-formatted templates can save countless hours of tedious work. Graphic designers, for example, can benefit from using pre-formatted design layout templates; while companies who sell on contracts or have their own contractors can save a ton of time by having an attorney write universal, “fill-in-the-blank” contracts.
3. Schedule your day: One of the most difficult aspects of small business ownership is time management, which you can do by taking a few minutes each morning (or the night before) to plan your day out hourly. Make a schedule, stick to it and diverge from it only when absolutely necessary.
4. Check e-mail sparingly: Some of us (many of us, I am guessing) have the propensity to check our e-mails every few minutes or after each task is completed, but doing so switches your focus and wastes time. There are few professions in which an e-mail sender can't wait four hours for a reply (after all, telephones are for urgency), so you should check your e-mail and write your replies only two or three times a day for maximum efficiency.
5. Delegate: Too many small business owners cringe at the thought of letting someone else handle important aspects of their businesses, but if you want to grow there's no way around delegation. And the sooner you learn to delegate, the sooner your business will grow. Source bookkeeping, accounting and even sales to contractors so you can focus on doing what you do best.
6. Don't multi-task: The corporate world has embraced so-called multi-taskers for several decades running, yet the science shows that it is impossible to truly multi-task. In fact, “Brain Rules” author John J. Medina demonstrates that “multi-tasking” actually loses time, so your best bet is to complete a single task to completion and then move on to the next. You will stay more focused, save time and ultimately produce better quality work. Image use Creative Commons license via Flickr.