What if you could save an hour a day starting today? That’s 5 hours every week.
Imagine being able to switch off at Noon every Friday without the worry of all the stuff that didn’t get done weighing you down. Imagine gaining the time and mental capacity to knock out that online course idea you’ve been wanting to launch.
You can do just that when you put these 5 solutions in place for your business, and the awesome thing is – you can get these solutions in place right now, without having to invest in complex technology or a massive support team.
Proper Project Management
If you’re still managing your team with emails, please stop. We all know the deal – emails get lost, messages are forgotten and balls get dropped. Not to mention all the time wasted on sifting through hundreds of emails just for that one piece of information.
Sign up for a project management tool like Trello today. It’s free and incredibly easy to use.
Start putting all your projects on there. Plug team members and due dates on there. Organize them by task type, due date, task owner – whichever works best for the way you manage your business. You’ll now be able to, at a glance, establish which projects are progressing to plan and which projects have hit a bottleneck or need your immediate attention.
If you are even minimally curious about the possibility of creating a central command center for all your projects, here’s a post you might want to read about Trello, its basic functions and pretty darned swanky extras (Well, hello Trello: The super cool project management tool that will uplevel your biz.)
Do you find yourself reinventing the wheel every time you have to record a podcast, plan your content for the next month, or create a new autoresponder series?
Take a few minutes to document the steps involved and/or create a working template that you can re-use. Then next time you have to do it (or better yet, when you are ready to hand it off to a talented virtual assistant), you’ll be able to quickly work out what needs to happen. There will be fewer mistakes, and the work will get done faster.
Here are examples of documents that I have created and maintained for my own clients:
- Process documents for recurring tasks like publishing blog posts, scheduling social media posts, uploading and posting podcasts.
- A spreadsheet carrying all the details for your live blogs, podcasts, videos (think: content title, publish date, URL, associated keywords). This can be a godsend when you’re at that point in the month or year when you’re planning your social media calendar and need one place to draw on all your previously published content, links and all.
- A spreadsheet which tracks the progression of an incoming lead from “warm lead” to “client”, set to automatically calculate details like follow-up dates.
- A spreadsheet for tracking day to day business expenses – complete with inbuilt formulae that updates your full year summary as you go.
- A monthly content calendar template that includes critical fields like content themes, type, title, distribution channel, and hashtags. You could even include a column that does a character count + goes red when your planned message hits the character limit for that social media platform.
And here’s a related one – If there are emails that you tend to craft over and over again, please consider setting up a canned response for each one. I am talking about those emails sent in response to commonly asked client questions, emails sent to introduce someone to your business and what you do, emails sent to onboard newly acquired clients, emails sent to schedule in a guest on your podcast etc. All these emails will flow a certain way and carry the same baseline information. Set up your canned responses. Treat them like email templates, and then simply tweak as needed.
Create a Business Organization Chart
If you have multiple people on your team, this is super important. Rather than everyone coming to you for every single clarification or worse, asking the wrong person and getting the wrong answer—take the time to create an organization chart. Add it to your operations manual and make sure your team knows where it is and what it’s for. Now, rather than your Skype or Slack chat pinging with questions all day long, you’ll have time and head space for the more important aspects of making a success of your business.
Embrace the Tech
Juggling multiple priorities and challenges at once makes it impossibly hard to stay on top of everything without the associated stress. As a small business owner, it is so important to understand two things:
- there’s a whole range of tech tools out there that has been designed just for you (even if you are not the most tech-savvy person in the world!) and
- the benefit of embracing the tech will, in the long run, outweigh the more immediate challenge of setting up.
Here are a few of my favorites for doing more with less (and I am intentionally focusing on the bare essentials here):
- Trello – Organizes your projects. Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where everything is vis-a-vis completion.
- Calendly or Acuity – Online scheduling tools. Allows people to automatically schedule time on your calendar, taking into account your availability (think: potential clients scheduling themselves in for a free consultation, via a link on an email, a ‘Book Now’ button on your Facebook biz page, the ‘Contact Me’ page on your WordPress site.)
- 17hats – An all-in-one business management tool that helps automate, organize, and optimize the management of your small biz. (think: lead capture forms, lead notifications, automated responses, quote/contract/invoice templates, managed workflows etc.!)
- MailChimp – A great free option for creating and delivering beautiful high converting newsletters and campaigns to your email subscribers. Commit to the lowest paid plan, and you can create fully automated, targeted email sequences too. MailChimp has default WP plugins and embed codes to add basic opt-in forms on your WordPress site.
- Hootsuite – A single platform for scheduling social media posts and managing multiple profiles.
Use Time Blocking
Get out your calendar and start making appointments with yourself. Decide when you’ll check email, when you’ll work on client projects, and when you’ll work on your own biz development – and then honor that schedule. These self-imposed boundaries will not only force you to get the work done, but they’ll also train your team to get better at thinking ahead and getting all clarifications in at the times that work best for you.
All of these systems can be set up in an afternoon—at least initially. But the time they save you (when you use them consistently) is phenomenal. An hour a day is just the beginning, and you have to put in the work before you can earn the rewards. But I promise the benefits are amazing. In the end, you’ll wonder how you ever managed before you did these five things to improve your business.