Small business owners are constantly spinning plates. From sales and marketing to invoicing and accounts, most entrepreneurs would agree that they spend too much time working in their business, rather than working on scaling and growing it.
To do that, it’s necessary to take a step back from the day-to-day handling of business operations and focus on your growth objectives.
But for smaller companies who aren’t ready to hire support staff, how do you push aside fundamental tasks like customer service queries and client meetings? Those things still need doing, so the trick is to automate and delegate as much as possible to free up more time for what really matters to the future of your business.
The solution is two-fold:
- Root out the repetitive tasks that can be automated or outsourced;
- Identify tools or services that can take over these tasks on your behalf.
Great benefits can come from optimizing and automating some of your workflow. The rewards include productivity gains, better time management, increased business and more revenue.
It’s all about getting more done with less effort, without harming your business. In fact, when setup correctly, these processes should actually help improve your business while also giving you the focus and energy required to take your enterprise to the next level.
With that in mind, here are 3 ways to streamline your small business:
There’s a time and a place for face-to-face meetings. But they don’t necessarily need to happen every day. If you regularly commute to a central office location, why not try working a couple of days per week from home or a more convenient location, and switch out regular team meetings with video calls? You’ll save time on commuting and you’ll save money, too -- both of which can be reinvested back into your business in a variety of ways.
And when you’re not rushing out to beat the morning traffic, you’ll probably save yourself a certain amount of stress, too.
Working remotely isn’t for everyone. But if you’re prepared to experiment with flexible work arrangements, the potential payback is huge. There are endless studies to support the claim that remote working increases productivity, while also resulting in better employee satisfaction, an increase in employee empowerment, and lower attrition rates.
Of course, remote teams don’t need a large full-time office space, which means you’ll save a significant amount of money on your office space, too. You can use a virtual business address in place of a permanent office space or real estate lease, which you can still use as your main company head office.
Another benefit of using a virtual office in this regard is that your mail is handled and forwarded automatically. Plus you have on-demand access to workspace or meeting rooms, and you can even use a live receptionist service to take care of incoming calls and appointment requests (more on that later).
Use the right software.
It’s amazing how many tools are on the market to help you get your work done faster and more efficiently. For instance:
- Team collaboration: Slack is a great way to pull your team together, whether you’re working alongside each other or thousands of miles apart. It’s a user-friendly online chat platform that helps teams stay in contact. You can create groups or chats dedicated to a specific topic, and there’s a handy search function too, which keeps all your related conversations in one easy-to-find place.
- Project management: Asana is an online project management tool that keeps everyone on the same page. You can create new tasks and assign them to specific people along with details, attachments, and deadlines. Asana sets automated reminders and notifications which keeps everyone updated and on schedule, which means less person-to-person chasing on your part.
- Choosing appointments: Calendly is a great tool for scheduling new meetings. It’s your own personal shareable calendar; rather than bouncing back-and-forth trying to organise a meeting, simply share your Calendly link and let your attendees choose a time slot based on your availability. At Alliance we use a similar tool by Appointedd, which enables our team to schedule meetings and appointments faster and more accurately.
There are plenty more where they came from. Whatever you need help with, whether it’s easier invoicing, bookkeeping, email automation, or digital filing, there’s a seemingly endless list of excellent tools and apps on the market to help make your business life easier.
Outsource time-consuming tasks.
Consider this. Over the course of a standard month, how many separate tasks do you handle yourself? This is an important step in relieving yourself of time-consuming jobs.
Take a little time to review all the tasks you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, and a rough idea of how long it takes to do each one. Now take a long hard look at your list and consider which ones can be outsourced.
We’re going to pick one for you: answering the phone.
You might not think this can be easily outsourced. After all, if that VIP client comes calling, there’s nobody better to deal with that call than you, right? Well, what if they call at the exact moment you step into a meeting with a potential investor? You can’t afford to miss that call, but you can’t risk delaying your meeting.
The solution is a live receptionist service. The service varies across different brands, but it usually involves a customer service team answering calls in your company name, handling inquiries according to your instructions, and scheduling appointments too.
Virtual receptionist services can be a boon for busy entrepreneurs, as it not only reduces distractions and saves time dealing with customer queries and spam calls, it also improves your customer service and ensures callers are met with a friendly and professional representative of your company, rather than an automated voicemail recording.
This is just one of dozens of potential tasks that can be outsourced or automated, and which will save you a significant amount of time every single day.
Given all that free time, just imagine what you can do with your business. Rather than working on the day-to-day running of your business, you’ll have the opportunity to step back and focus on how to take your enterprise to the next step. If you have more ideas of how to streamline a small business, let us know! We’d love to hear your thoughts.