It’s everyone’s dream to start their own business. Who wouldn’t want to break free from the workplace rules, politics, and internal conflicts and have full control of their time and goals?
According to the Small Business Administration, any company with fewer than 500 employees is considered “small”. This constitutes 32.5 million (99.9 percent) of all businesses in the U.S as of 2021.
However, owning a small business is no walk in the park. Approximately 20 percent of small enterprises fail within the first year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, what do the rest (80 percent) do right to survive? Here are productivity tips to help you maximize efficiency and output for the amount of time you invest.
11 Proven Productivity Tips for Every Small Business Owner
Start Every Day with a Plan
We can’t stress this enough. Planning your ideal daily or weekly schedule plays a crucial role in ensuring you spend your time efficiently. A clearly outlined plan for the day will help you stay on top of what you need to get done.
Of course, every day won’t be the same. But having established a productive routine for your average day eliminates time wastage and you’ll always know what to prioritize.
In turn, you’ll work at your highest capacity, which can create a domino effect of highly motivated and productive employees across your organization.
Set SMART Goals
Running a business without a goal often ends in failure. Goals help keep you focused on what you want to achieve. They represent the big picture and what you can do to get there.
That’s why your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant/realistic, time-bound. Employees will feel motivated and encouraged knowing what they are working for or where it leads to. Plus, they’ll put more effort when given tasks that are realistic and achievable.
Start by setting long-term goals and then break them into smaller goals that can be accomplished daily, weekly, or monthly. The best thing about establishing SMART goals is that they enable you to set targets and track your progress. Goal setting also helps eliminate irrelevant, time-wasting tasks.
Prioritize Everything You Do
Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Include small things like checking your email, as well as large tasks like filing your tax returns.
Now, for each of the lists, prioritize the tasks, organizing them in order of importance and urgency. Don’t be tempted to start with those things that would be nice for the business (but surely not necessary).
Go further and for each task, note how well you can complete it. You can write something like; easy to do, done by me, not my forte, time-consuming, and so on.
Once you prioritize your activities, you’ll get a clearer picture of what tasks are vital to your business. You can then block out periods of time to get them completed efficiently.
Planning out your task list for the day, week, or month will help you determine core and non-core tasks and delegate them accordingly. This allows you to focus your time and energy on the key activities that will drive success.
When starting out, most business owners tend to wear multiple hats. They feel like they can – or must – do it all. That’s OK, and sometimes even necessary at the onset. But as your business expands, you must delegate.
Moreover, you need to show that you trust your employees and have confidence in them to get things done. Effective leaders know that delegation is a great way to pass on knowledge to their staff so they can grow professionally and take the lead.
Hire the Right People
According to CNBC, 52 percent of small business owners cite labor quality as one of their biggest challenges. Studies by Indeed also show that 35 percent of small business owners believe that attracting the right talent is harder than it used to be five years ago.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find the right talent. Hiring remote workers gives you a wide talent pool to discover the right skills. This way, you don’t have to spend the entire day juggling tasks intended for an accountant, a designer, or a bookkeeper.
Understandably, you may not have the resources to expand your workforce. Fortunately, outsourcing not only frees up your time but also reduces stress. You can relax knowing that someone more suitable is handling the task, and you can focus on ensuring the business stays afloat.
Work Smarter via Automation
To be productive, you must maximize the hours in your workday. While work ethics and a heads-down approach is a valuable asset for a small business, working smarter is paramount if you desire to scale up.
Automation is a key strategy for modern businesses. By automating repetitive processes and tasks in your daily routine, you’ll save more time to find new channels to improve success. You can automate tasks like accounting, invoicing, marketing emails, and social media posts.
Track Your Time and Block Out Distractions
Monitoring the time you or your team takes to complete tasks is critical for improved performance and productivity. The data you collect allows you to analyze your activities and those of your team members to detect workflow loopholes.
It becomes easier to identify tasks that take longer than usual or when a project stops being profitable. A time management app can be instrumental in helping point out time-wasters and ensuring you stay on track. Check out Traqq to learn more about how to leverage productivity technology.
To maximize your time even further, be sure to minimize distractions. Anything that distracts you decreases your productivity levels. Start by muting your device notifications and set a regular schedule to check emails and messages.
Better yet, keep the devices you don’t use for work out of sight to avoid the temptation to check them frequently. After all, it takes your brain 25 minutes to refocus.
Use the Eat the Frog Approach
When organizing your workday, it’s advisable to put the biggest, most challenging, and time-consuming tasks at the top. If you’re like most people, you are probably highly active and energetic during the early hours of the day.
Take advantage of your peak productivity hours to accomplish the toughest tasks and leave the less intensive ones for later in the day. Apply the same principle to your teams to make them more productive and engaged.
Build Flexible Work Schedules into Your System
Most workers are reevaluating their jobs in the wake of the COVID pandemic. For small companies, this can pose quite a challenge, especially when it comes to talent retention.
According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, 37% of small businesses have implemented schedule flexibility to improve staff retention. The fact is, creating schedules that work around your employees’ lives in today’s business world works wonders for their morale.
To do so, you must first establish what each team member is good at. Then, determine the hours they get the most work done and allow them to work during those hours. This will increase happiness and job satisfaction, and consequently, productivity.
Don’t Forget to Treat the Staff to Team Building Activities
Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. As much as you want results, a lack of balance between work and relaxation could render your staff bored, tired, and unmotivated. Promoting fun, team-building activities and games helps promote motivation and boost team spirit and morale.
Additionally, it allows team members to connect on a more personal level, which in turn, improves interpersonal communication and team engagement.
Take Care of Your Health and Happiness
According to a Gallup survey, 62 percent of small business owners work more than 50 hours each week. These facts are backed by another research that found overworking to be common among small business owners.
Overworking can be counterproductive and will often result in burnout. If you want to stay productive, you must understand that you’re human and need enough sleep, good food, and a way to manage stress.
On top of that, you need to value your mental and physical state more and spend time with family and friends. Taking time out for yourself is necessary not only to avoid burnout but also to get a fresh perspective and better outlook on your business.
Additionally, set aside time to reward yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how small. Every win matters and is a step closer to reaching your goals.
Take the Right Actions Towards Increased Productivity
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to running a successful business. No matter your brand or line of work, make sure time management and productivity are a top priority. The guidelines outlined above should help you make the best of your time to get more done to increase your revenue.