You don’t have to be Richard Branson or Alan Sugar to run a successful business. In fact, you don’t even need an office, let alone an intimidating boardroom to make a mint these days.
The business world has changed radically thanks to the internet, giving entrepreneurs much more flexibility to work where they want. Small business owners are on the rise, in fact, over 52% of businesses registered in the UK are run from home, according to the Centre for Economics and Business.
Women are the fastest growing group of home and small business owners. There are now almost 1.5 million women running their own businesses in the UK, which represents an increase of around 300,000 since before the 2008 financial crisis.
Money worries and lack of flexibility in the workplace have forced many women to rethink their careers. Many have seized the opportunity, grabbed a laptop and started up on their own.
However, if you run a small business, whether at home, in an office or retail space, you’ll know it’s not the ‘easy option’ with around 30 per cent of small business owners routinely doing 60-hour weeks.
With no time to relax or delegate, few would argue that being a small business owner is an epic challenge. However, the rewards can be huge, the most satisfying arguably being that you are the boss.
But the buck stops with you, so you need to think innovatively about how to run your business efficiently while allowing yourself sufficient down-time. To help you achieve this, we’ve put together a list of hacks to help you save time and make your business thrive.
5 Time-Saving Hacks for Small Business Owners
1. Use sumup
We can’t believe we’ve only just discovered this nifty little gadget. The sumup Air Card Reader is the smartest and fastest way to get paid.
Tired of people saying they’ll pay you later or accepting payments through your website? This little Bluetooth-connected card reader can be taken everywhere with you and accepts all major credit and debit cards.
How does it work?
Simply download the sumup app to your smartphone, use the card reader with your customer (they can tap, chip or swipe) and the money goes into your account within 2-3 days. Your customer will also be sent a receipt.
The card reader is especially handy for entrepreneurs taking their products or services to their customers or for those running retail businesses. Just pop it in your bag and get paid faster, saving you time and hassle.
2. Schedule Every Minute of Your Day
A tidy mind equals a successful business. You can really waste time if you don’t know what you are doing next. At the beginning of each week, set your tasks for the week and for each day.
You can use a cloud-based online calendar (such as Google Calendar, Outlook or iCal), paper diary or even a whiteboard on the wall. If you use online calendars, set alerts and reminders to help keep you on track.
You are the boss of all things, so portion out your time for all aspects of your business (marketing, admin, accounts, website, emails) and make sure you stick to your schedule.
Remember to factor in breaks as well – even if you work for yourself you still need to eat lunch!
3. Use a Central Social Media Management Centre
If you run your own business, you will probably use a lot of social media platforms. Get them organised with a social media system like HootSuite which puts all your social media in one place.
This will save eons of time.
You’ll be surprised how many precious minutes are lost going back and forth between platforms. With it all in front of you, you can respond to queries and post updates and information in seconds.
4. Have Virtual Meetings
In the digital age, the very idea of battling through traffic to get to a meeting is not only unnecessary but it’s is also a waste of time and money; not to mention bad for your carbon footprint.
If your client is up for it, use Skype or GoToMeeting to have your meetings instead. Online contact is an accepted form of business contact so don’t fret about missing out on face-to-face meetings. Just don’t wear your pyjamas if you are doing a video meeting!
5. Have a ‘Do Not Disturb Hour’ Every Day
With all the alerts, emails and posts it’s easy not to leave enough time to actually work on your product or service. Focussing too much time and effort on marketing and networking will create a backlog of work and risk missing deadlines – a big no-no for small businesses.
Don’t get waylaid. Schedule at least one hour per day where you turn off your phone and log out of social media and emails. Use this hour to concentrate on your product or service.
Brainstorm a wish-list about how to improve or adapt your product or service and then think about what practical steps you need to take to reach your goal. Doing this each day will not only improve your mental well-being, but could lead to exciting new ideas to help grow your business.
Using time-saving methods such as a sumup card reader or online social media management system leaves you more precious hours to spend on your product/service or even…relaxing! It takes a bit of organisation but it’s so worth it.
Over to You
Are you a small business owner? How do you save time on your endless to do list? Share with us in the comment box below.