Sunday is National Work Like a Dog Day, a celebration of those who do not stop working until a task is completed. While working hard comes with the territory when you’re running a small business, there is a difference between continuously giving your all and being a workaholic. Hard workers give the maximum effort when they’re working, but they do not work all the time.
Nearly half of all U.S. employees have said that they experience work overload on a consistent basis. Small business owners in particular feel overwhelmed by trying to manage day-to-day operations as well as focus on the big picture. If you find that you are exhausted from carrying more than your fair share of the workload, these tips and techniques can help you become more efficient and productive.
1 – Set Clear Goals
Goal setting is essential to long-term business success. It is also a valuable tool for establishing the focus you need to be productive day in and day out. Experts recommend writing down goals and sharing them with colleagues, clients, and/or staff. According to one study, more than 70% of those who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a colleague achieved their desired results. Only 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves were successful. Transparency helps you stay accountable and concentrate on what matters most, so you are less likely to waste time or veer off track.
2 – Make the Most of Your Time
The smarter you are about tackling your to-do list, the more you can accomplish in a given period of time. However, poor allocation of time is pervasive in workplaces today. Time tracking and management tools can help you and your employees stick to a schedule that is designed to increase efficiency and productivity.
There are a multitude of options to help your small business make the most of every hour, including simple-to-use apps that track not only how you plan to invest your time, but where you actually spend it. Once you identify how you and your team are wasting time, you can replace less important projects or processes with those that are more productive. While certain tasks naturally require more time than others, as a business owner, it is important to focus on balancing your time between everyday responsibilities and high priority projects.
3 – Increase Efficiency with Accounting Software
Technology can help you and your team work faster and smarter. For instance, as your business grows, accounting software programs can minimize the amount of time spent on administrative functions so you can focus on other aspects of your business. These systems are designed to ensure that your business financials are accurate, reliable, and easy to understand. They can also help increase efficiency by speeding up your cash flow, reducing costs, and improving budgeting.
Choose software that caters to your business needs and is geared toward the specific end-user. No matter how user-friendly the program is, if you or your staff find that it’s too complicated or time-consuming to make regular updates, you are not likely to maximize your investment.
4 – Delegate or Outsource
Despite knowing they cannot do everything themselves, small business owners often have a hard time giving up control. However, continuing to take on too much inevitably leads to burnout, and, over time, exhausted business owners will find it difficult to stay on top of their game.
Trust your team to take on more responsibility, and start by giving employees a chance to tackle the day-to-day or detail-oriented tasks. Be realistic about how much each staff member can handle, and spread out duties as evenly as possible. Assign your best employees an amount of work that is challenging, but make sure it does not start to cause their performance to suffer.
Small businesses often have a limited number of employees, which can make delegation a challenge. If you are in this situation, consider outsourcing as a way of accessing the expertise you require on an affordable and scalable basis. From bookkeeping and payroll to marketing and finance, more entrepreneurs are recognizing the strategic advantages of tapping the considerable skills of independent contractors or the ease of online resources. In addition to relieving you of tasks that consume precious time, the financial benefits include not having to pay employer taxes, benefits, and overhead costs for a full-time team.
5 – Plan Ahead
Entrepreneurs who feel overloaded with duties tend to focus more on keeping their heads above water and less about the future of their business. Ironically, this approach can result in you and your team working harder for a longer period of time to achieve measurable growth.
Creating a business plan and updating it regularly will set your company up for continued success and ensure that you and your team have a long-range focus and common sense of purpose. Plan to meet with your accountant before tax time rolls around to discuss the financial side of your business. Key items to cover include reviewing revenue for the current year, discussing revenue goals for next year, and flagging any potential financial obstacles you may face in the year ahead. If your small business is well established, consider creating a five-year growth strategy. The idea is to make sure that, going forward, you avoid investing time and resources in people, places, or things that are not helping you achieve your business goals.
Hard work should be applauded, but working harder does not necessarily translate into greater productivity. Working smarter will help decrease your stress level and dramatically increase your bottom line.
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