Small business owners are defined by their perennial lack of time. However, this is typically because they try to do everything themselves. That’s understandable because they did have to do it all themselves at the start, but they run themselves ragged as the business grows. For example, they may continue to do things themselves instead of delegating to subordinates out of habit. In other cases, you are simply afraid to add people in case there is a drop in sales, leaving everyone working overtime. The solution is to boost the productivity of your team. Here are 4 productivity boosters for small businesses.
Utilize Managed Mail Services
Services like The Delivery Group are an excellent choice for many small businesses. Don’t ask your accountant to work a shift in the mailroom. Don’t waste your precious time sorting through bills, junk mail and invoices. Let someone else receive the items, sort them, and deliver the final bundles to the right department. Don’t have team members wait for packages; the managed mail service can receive them for you 24x7x365. You’ll get a formal bill for the service, allowing you to determine the cost of returned material handling or receiving orders through the mail versus online.
Plan As Much As Possible
Don’t see business planning as a waste of time. Plan your major purchases and expenses like quarterly and annual tax bills so that you don’t have to go into debt to pay them. Check the business financial reports on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. If revenue is going down and you’re not able to tie it to predictable seasonal trends, come up with potential solutions. Run A/B testing with new marketing messages, complementary services and sales to fix things.
Plan your website upgrades, product rollouts and marketing efforts. Then things are more likely to go smoothly, and you can react in real time with current data instead of reacting in a panic to unexpected bad news.
Embrace Process Automation
Process automation requires initial investments of technology and training. However, it typically pays off handsomely in productivity. A classic example is the self-service kiosk for placing orders at a restaurant, though the self-checkout is a close second. Don’t sacrifice customer service for convenience, such as pushing everyone to the self-checkout regardless of their ability to bag their own groceries. Do implement technology that helps customers. For example, automatically send them thank you emails when you confirm the receipt of their order and send them an email with the tracking information when the order is shipped.
Use automation when it is a boon for the consumer. Give them the ability to manage their email marketing preferences or subscription digitally but have humans ready and able to connect with them via chat if they have a problem. Schedule blog posts and social media posts through various tools but check the public response regularly. Have intelligent web servers monitor for hack attacks but assign an IT guru to check out potential security threats as soon as they are detected.
Learn about the Covey Quadrant System
The Covey Quadrant system has four squares on the chart. One axis is tied to the importance of the task. The other axis relates to the urgency. An important, urgent task will get priority over important but less urgent tasks. For example, you’ll stop working on your taxes to put out a literal fire. Too many business owners waste time on things that seem urgent but aren’t important, whether it is responding to customer correspondence personally or reading industry news but not working on their own business. Schedule your day, week and month to set aside time for important but not urgent tasks like reviewing financial reports, mentoring team members and talking to your department heads at length. Then fewer issues will move from the important but not urgent to the important and urgent square.