The 7-step program to boost business productivity
One of the most precious resources available to us is time. No matter how rich, or how poor we are, each of us only has 24 hours in the day. But for some of us, 24 hours is simply not enough.
Many entrepreneurs find that no matter how successful their business is, there is never enough time to focus on things that will really take their business forward such as lead generation.
Take Sam Bryson for example. Sam Bryson was my manager and mentor at Markateur, a PR and marketing firm and she part owns the company.
Sam used to be what she calls “a busy fool”. No matter how hard she tried, she could never strike a decent work/life balance.
She said: “When I took over the ownership of Markateur, I finally had my own business. I employed many staff members and yet it seemed that it still didn’t completely alleviate the pressure I felt as a business owner.
“I was typically working 16-17 hour days and would often be working until 3am in the morning. I would then be up again at 7 and continue the whole process all over again. My marriage was beginning to suffer and before too long, my dream of being an entrepreneur had turned into another job. But unlike being in a job, I couldn’t just switch off. That was the problem, there was no ‘off switch’.
“It was only when I invested in business coaching sessions, that I learned how to delegate tasks effectively to free up enough time so that I could finally have my life back and enjoy what I’d worked so hard for.”
Sam’s problem is one that a significant number of entrepreneurs are all-too familiar with.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ways to free up time so that you can focus on things that you love best.
Below, we list how you can do this.
When they first set up in business, many entrepreneurs find themselves as the accountant, administrator, employee, employer and manager all at the same time.
But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way. The key is to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your employees and delegate tasks accordingly.
You should also identify the main tasks that are holding you up. Quite often, this will be admin tasks or answering the phone.
Then if you are hiring staff members, your focus should be on hiring those with that have the skills you need to delegate the most time-consuming tasks. So this may be a secretary, customer service agent or account manager, for example.
If you are not yet in a position to hire full time employees, consider hiring a freelancer. You can find freelancers easily on sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. Many of them will work for a fairly modest price as well.
Hire a Virtual PA
We all need a helping hand from time-to-time. Most would love to hire a personal assistant but simply cannot afford one.
However, hiring a PA doesn’t have to break the bank. In the UK, you can hire a virtual PA for as little as £10 an hour and choose the times that you want them to work.
They are not location-specific and often prefer to work on a freelance basis.
As a virtual PA, they can take many of the pressures away from you, and will often conduct secretarial and customer service duties on your behalf.
Again many of the freelance websites, such as those named above, have listings for Virtual PAs.
Invest in business coaching
One of the reasons Sam Bryson was able to free up enough time to focus on the things she loved doing was because she invested in coaching services.
A business coach can identify issues and problems that you may not necessarily see yourself and point out a number of ways in which you can solve those problems.
Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t see the picture if you’re in the frame?”. Business coaches can also offer you a number of resources and techniques that can help you to run your business in a much more efficient way.
Part of the reason why many entrepreneurs work all the hours God sends is because they often struggle to cope with the workloads associated with managing a business.
With the right bit of advice, you can identify ways in which you can boost your productivity and get more done in less time.
There are many networking groups that offer business coaching such as Trades Hub, BNI and others.
Sometimes it’s not what you’re doing that needs to change but the way you are doing it.
Rather than doing everything manually, many tasks can be automated.
For example, Zapier is an online resource that can automate your workflows by drawing together all of your existing web apps and activities. It can also pass information between apps and streamline existing processes.
So when you get an important email from one of your contacts, it can download those into dropbox and alert your team.
This is one of many time management apps that are available.
These days, virtually anything can be automated, including emails, social media posts, information gathering, IT, bookkeeping, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
I mentioned this briefly in the last section, but as bookkeeping, payroll and invoicing are tasks that can also take up a lot of time for entrepreneurs, it is worthy of a more in-depth mention.
Many small businesses hate bookkeeping, dealing with taxes and accounting.
The good news is that it is not necessary to dedicate too much time to that. Eventually, you’ll want to hire an accountant, but in the meantime, software such as Freshbooks, KashFlow and FinancialForce takes care of all of those accounting processes for you.
But what if the tasks that are taking up most of your time cannot be automated, but you’re not quite at the stage to take on another employee? Perhaps the tasks are too important to be delegated to a freelancer but you’re still struggling to complete them?
One solution is outsourcing. Outsourcing can be a more cost-effective way of ensuring that you can assign important tasks such as HR duties, IT and data processing to qualified professionals or companies, without committing to taking on full-time employees.
One reason that many entrepreneurs get overwhelmed with tasks is because their existing way of working lacks organisation.
Many productivity blogs will tell you to set clear tasks and eliminate distractions.
And while that is good advice, the key to making all of that work is by creating a step by step process that will become automatic.
For example, you could group some of the smaller tasks together and do them at a certain time of day. That is a system.
Or you could set clear daily goals for each day of the week, schedule them in and follow them up with the next most important task. That is also a system.
Sam Bryson had her own system for organising tasks at Markateur.
She said: “One of the things that really helped me to free up more time is I created my 3 step power system which has transformed the way that I work.
“I get up by 5am each day and use the early morning as my personal planning time. I also use that time to brainstorm ideas for my business and look over emails.
“By the time I get into work that day, I already know what emails to prioritise and I’ve created some lead generation ideas. So then I get into the implementation stage. I make sure that employees know that for the first two hours of the working day they are not to disturb me.
“During those hours, I group some of the smaller ideas together and then by the afternoon I get into my power stage, where I have released enough time to focus on lead generation and running the business. So my system consists of personal planning, implementing the things I have planned and power, which is my ability to meet my aims and objectives.”
Sam’s system may or may not work for you. But once you have created a system that is right for your business that you or your employees can follow, you will find it much easier to boost both your productivity and your work/life balance.
Find out more
If you would like to get more in-depth information on how to generate leads and promote your products and services, you can get in touch with me by clicking here.
The following books will give you more advanced ways of increasing efficiency across your business:
High Trust Selling: Make more money in less time with less stress by Todd Duncan
Get free, get clear and get going in your career, business and life by Joe Sweeney
By Janine Griffiths