As a small business owner, time is one of your most precious resources. How well you prioritize your time determines how much of your focus you can dedicate to the tasks most closely tied to earning a profit. However, making the most of your time requires careful consideration and planning. You’ll need to plan, analyze and maybe shift your thinking. Fortunately, better time-management skills can lead to greater business productivity and put more hours back into your personal life.
Here are a few strategies you can use to run your business more efficiently.
Organize your day
The night before each workday, Dave Wakeman, principal of Wakeman Consulting Group, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, spends five to 10 minutes going through his phone calendar to create a to-do list for the following day. Such planning helps him focus on the most important tasks.
By creating a task list at the end of your workday, you make it easier to dive into the high-priority items first thing the next morning. Keeping a list of to-do items can also help you stay focused on what’s important—rather than getting sidetracked as smaller requests and issues arise throughout the day.
“If I wasn’t organized, it would be easy to get distracted with emails, phone calls or random paperwork,” Wakeman says.
One of the most powerful resources a business owner can rely on is his or her own workforce. However, your staff will make you more efficient only if they don’t require a high level of oversight on your part.
In an effort to free up more of his time, Wakeman seeks out potential employees who are comfortable when given freedom. Such hires save time in the long run because they can make good decisions on their own—allowing Wakeman to focus on other aspects of running the business. “I don’t micromanage,” he says. “I don’t need to make every decision. I set a clear vision and tell employees to run with it.;
Although part of that begins with hiring the right people, Wakeman recognizes that some still need coaching. With them, he emphasizes that mistakes are inevitable.
“I’m not afraid of anyone making a mistake,” he says. “My concern is that you’re not pushing yourself to the point where you are making mistakes. You’re not going to have the right answer every time.”
Enabling employees to take risks and own the decision-making process can save you time.
“The better my employees become at making decisions, taking risk and holding themselves more accountable for results, the less management time is required for me,” Wakeman says.
Invest in the right tools
Ceding control can also be a matter of investing in technology. Last year, a National Small Business Association survey found 70 percent of small business owners considered keeping up with new technology very important to the success of their companies.
Some of the most popular time-saving solutions cited by the survey include investments in cloud computing, smartphones, tablets and high-speed Internet connections, as well as moving bank account management online.
By tapping into your bank’s services, such as online payroll, online cash manager and the ability to deposit checks remotely, you can save time while gaining better insight into your company’s finances.
Ultimately, good time management can lead to fewer, more effective hours on the job, which means more time for the things you value most.