Small business owners often resolve to work more hours for the freedom of choosing their own boss. But any way you look at it, we all have only 24 hours in our day, so working longer has its limits. Still, most business owners wouldn’t trade the stress and long hours for anything in the world. Discovering the keys to working smarter will give you more time to enjoy other pursuits.
It’s not just about wrestling some free time out of the clutches of obligations. Working smarter makes you more efficient, which means more revenue. But you can’t increase efficiency to the point it alienates customers. It’s a fine balance. Here are some efficiency tips for you and your team that will not negatively impact your customers.
Chunk It All
The most efficient shoppers among us know their grocery stores well and they may even organize their list accordingly. This means less time meandering around the store, going up and down the same aisles for different items. For instance, you pick up all your produce at once instead of getting string beans and then going for meat, only to come back around again for corn.
The key to this simple approach is organization. When you write out your grocery list, you may not add all of your produce at once and when you’re going down the list, you could be running back and forth. If you take a moment to organize it before going to the store and listing all like types of products, you’ll be more efficient in store.
This is the concept of chunking and it can be applied to your business as well. Organize your to-do list so that you perform similar activities back-to-back to be more efficient. Switching gears takes time. Many efficiency experts suggest slots of time for answering emails, for instance. This allows you to get into the mindset and hit the task with all your attention, instead of allowing it to disrupt you at unplanned times throughout the day.
Automate What You Can
You can’t automate relationships, but most everything else is worth a try. Automate social media content posts but leave time for real-time interaction with your audience. You need good content and you need to be out there. Use FAQs on your website and chatbots to help people self-serve and get the answers they need without calling and asking the same things. Calling ties up employees.
This type of self-service and automation don’t replace your customer service, merely assists them in answering questions that never change, aka hours, address, phone number, etc.
Kill the Meetings
One of the largest time sucks in your day is probably status meetings that go on forever. Stick to your agenda. Think of your team meeting as a huddle, not a marathon. Hold them standing up because it will cut down on long, drawn out monologues. While bonding is important, you can do that elsewhere through team lunches or after-hours events. Get the information you need and then get everyone back to work.
One of the biggest time sucks outside of meetings is employing the wrong person. Someone who is not a good fit for your business will not only be less efficient than someone who is, but they will also wear down others and sink morale. Every employee you have represents your business in our social media-driven world. Hiring wrong is more detrimental to your brand than running an ineffective campaign.
Yes, it’s hard to hire the right person and leaving a seat open means you may burn out your employees. But you must be deliberate in your hiring. Choose someone who is a good fit for your business, team, and customers. If you can’t find that person and the seat is open, compensate your employees for the extra work they’re performing. If that’s not enough, ask them what they would appreciate. Explain the situation is temporary. Offer referral bonuses so they can help you recruit but be selective if the position is one that you need someone permanently. If you run a summer operation, the right fit may not be as essential because they’ll be gone in a few months anyway but if you are looking for full-time permanent, be selective.
For an efficient business you must have the right team, that has access to the right tools, with no obstacles in their way. As the owner of a small business one of the most crucial things you can do to improve efficiency is hire well, outfit the team with what they need, and ensure nothing gets in their way. Then maybe you can get a couple of hours for yourself.