According to Lifehack, if every small business grew by 10%, an extra £21billion would be invested in the UK’s economy. And to give your business the best possible chance of contributing to this figure, learning to make the most of your time at work must come forth. Ensuring your time is spread preciously between your staff and customers is vital for any small business owner, but it can be overwhelming. Here we look at traditional hacks to ease you into a productive 2017…
1. Use a good CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
Having a CRM strategy in place can contribute largely to the organisation of your business. The main purpose of having one is to support your team while you engage with customers, for example, by storing conversations you’ve had historically. Keeping track of your relationships will earn you brownie points in terms of customer service, and it will provide you with the information you need to upsell or cross-sell.
2. Consider a virtual PA service
Answering a five-minute phone call will not eat into your day, but answering ten of the same length will lead to a cause of distraction. Consider signing up to a virtual PA service, whereby a fully trained assistant can answer and direct your calls or emails. Some PAs offer a lead generation package, too- so you can feel at ease knowing potential sales are flowing.
3. Make use of free wifi
As a small business owner, finding opportunities to save money in the budget is crucial. If you are fond of working on the move, seek free wifi passwords from your favourite coffee shops and take advantage of loyalty cards. Ensure the wifi setting on your Smartphone is always enabled, so it picks up the free internet as you go.
4. Utilise your Gmail account
Explore all the features on your Gmail account; you are sure to find a little gem in there! Try scheduling emails for later in the day, or add private email notes on your recipients.
5. Subscribe to industry news
Many of us object to receiving emails we don’t need, but filling your inbox with relevant articles will save you a lot of time. Subscribe to industry news via blogs and websites, and skim over them every morning. This means you will not run out of thought leadership to share with your customers on social media, and you will always have your head in the game. Why trawl the internet when someone else can do it for you?
6. Invest in SAAS (Software as a Service)
Gone are the days of purchasing expensive software, installing it on one desktop then having to repeat the process when an update is required. Many tools are available as Software as a Service (SAAS) now, which means you can pay for a program as you go and use it with minimal set-up. Take advantage of free trials, so you can figure out where you want to invest your time. Instruct staff members to use the free trials if applicable, so training does not have to go through you.
7. Order stationery online
You’d be surprised at how long menial tasks take, such as shopping for binders, post-its, and pencils. Sign up to a stationary supplier online, such as Lyreco or Zen Office, and order the essentials on a regular basis. Furthermore, you can invest in other pieces of kit in order to do jobs in-house, such as laminators and franking machines.
8. Choose a conference call over a face-to-face meeting
Traveling to and from meetings can be very time consuming and expensive, so consider whether you actually need to meet customers or partners in person. Opt for a call where possible, and offer to send the documents over in good time so that your participants are on the same page. Depending on who the meeting is with, try using Skype, or even FaceTime. With so many options to connect, a face-to-face meeting should be your last port of call if the necessity is not there.
9. Know when to switch off
Knowing when to relax is essential to the running of your business, and to yourself! You can’t run a car without any fuel, so learn when to switch off. It can be all too tempting to survive on coffee, headache tablets, and thin air just in the name of getting things done, but your body will only maintain this routine for a short period of time. Try making small changes, such as getting to bed at a reasonable time.
10. Avoid being a `Yes Man`
You can’t say `yes` to everything and expect to do a good job; this applies to your customers and team. If your schedule does not allow it or if you can’t see an immediate solution, be honest with all parties.