12 Time Management tips for Small Businesses
Small businesses are estimated to work on average more than 63% longer than other workers. In real terms that means they spend more than 50 hours a week on their venture. This is a significant investment of time by anyone’s standards, so ensuring effective time management is crucial to a healthy work-life balance.
Here are our top tips to achieve good time management, meaning you get more done in less time!
1. Create Time-Efficient Business Structures
Set aside an afternoon in your busy schedule to review how your business is run and which systems and structures could be improved. What do you spend the most time doing on a day-to-day basis? How could you re-arrange that to save time. Here are some more ideas:
- Product Sourcing: An easy way to while away the hours. Why not try the below to save time:
- Request samples to be sent to you instead of visiting the supplier’s location (unless you want to meet their team).
- Meet with suppliers via Skype if there’s no need to meet face-to-face.
- If you’re searching in Google for suppliers, use search operators to filter down the results you see repeatedly until you see only relevant results. For example, if you want a manufacturer in England and you need only one product made, you’d search for: “made in England” “no minimum order”.
- If you find someone who makes something similar to what you need, then send them a quick email and ask if they know someone who could help you. They have extensive supplier networks themselves and are often happy to help.
- Production: If you’re willing to compromise, accelerate production by:
- Being flexible. For example, if you run a market stall and you just want to sell lots of woolly hats before Christmas, don’t wait around for the factory to make a batch of black ones. Just go with the red ones they have material for. You could save yourself weeks.
- Set up a production line of sorts. Whether it’s sandwiches or jewellery, making 10 of something in an afternoon will be quicker than making them one at a time across a longer period. Henry Ford realised that in 1913 and he brought his costs down and whilst increasing his companies productivity.
- Taking Orders or Booking Appointments: This is another drain on your time which can be quickly decreased:
- Make sure clients can purchase your products online. If you run an e-commerce store, make sure that your stock inventory is automatically updated every time someone makes a purchase.
- Make sure clients can book your services online. Softwares like 10to8, automate the booking process letting clients book 24/7 and saving you time with automated notifications and reminders.
- Display terms and conditions, cancellation policies or FAQs as clearly as possible on your site for clients to see. With 10to8, you can chat with your clients right from your calendar answering questions in advance and making client communication effective and easy.
- Delegate Tasks: If you’ve just started a business then you’ll almost certainly have better things to be doing than spending four hours wrapping boxes. It’s a better use of your time if you delegate the task to someone at a cheaper rate. As Richard Branson said, “Remove yourself from the business’s day-to-day functions… This will free you up to focus on the larger picture”.
- Distribution: Are you getting your products to clients or stockists as quickly as you could? Manually transporting your products yourself can sap your time and energy. Utilise delivery options like Shiply, which allow you to distribute your products quickly and cheaply.
- Motivate Employees: Bonus schemes can be expensive for small businesses, but what about regular social events to motivate employees to work as a team? That means less procrastination, more collaboration and higher productivity, meaning more profit.
2. Market Research
Determining who your most relevant clients are in the early stages of business development will cut misspent investment in the long run, and refining your target market as you gain traction in the market is an on-going process.
- If you have employees, consult with them around who they think your target market is; having perspectives from different levels across the business will help construct a more accurate idea of your customer base.
- Create customer personas: which are short but very detailed and specific descriptions and images of your clients, including things like:
- Demographic – age, gender, income, education, occupation, household size, phase in family life cycle
- Location – area, region, language, dialect
- Psychographic – lifestyles, values, attitudes
- Behaviours – preferences, loyalty
- Product behaviour- relationship to products, purchasing behaviours
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner: This free, easy-to-use tool is an extremely useful way to see what the search volume is for keywords in your specific market. Put simply, there has never been a quicker way to understand the motivations of consumers.
- Simply add your target keywords, click on ‘Get Ideas’ and browse search volume and competition. You’ll quickly see how many people search for what you offer every month.
Use this to influence your product offering and phase out other products you offer which it becomes clear there’s no real demand for.
3. Get Clients to your Business Quicker with Quality Marketing
Attracting new clients, or replenishing them if your business has a short customer-life (like salons or therapists), is often one of the most time consuming elements of running a business. To get clients through the door quicker:
- Ask friends and family for help: Get them to use and review your product and give you honest feedback
- Make sure you have a website: There are plenty of quick and easy to set up WordPress templates which will give your business an online shop front.
- Local publicity: Contact local papers, magazines and news outlets who could feature you or your business. Getting some quick exposure can generate a whole range of new leads quickly.
- Set up a Google My Business Page: This starts getting you in the search results pages and also saves you marketing time.
- Take advantage of social media: Getting your business onto the major social networks is a good way of talking to lots of people in a short space of time. Word of mouth has never had more potential to become viral.