A business owners’ time and talents are some of a company’s most valuable assets. But these valuable assets are often underappreciated and misspent.
Small business owners, in particular, often have to deal with an overwhelming number of tasks on their to-do lists. They’re often personally involved in the operations of the company on all levels. They are also on-call constantly in case things go wrong.
It’s easy for small business owners to get weighed down by unimportant tasks that distract from more important work, such as working on big-picture strategy. And when small business owners can’t focus on the work that has the most important consequences for the company over time, the business almost always suffers as a result.
With that in mind, any tactic that allows owners to buy back their time can have huge benefits for the entire company. Could any of the following tools be saving you hours each day?
Automate Time-Consuming Tasks with Software
These days, there are software-as-a-service options designed to automate almost every detail-oriented, repeatable task small business owners face. These software programs “live” on remote servers, so small business owners don’t have to worry about handling things like software installation, security, or updates themselves.
Perhaps more impressively, many of these cloud-based technologies can integrate with each other to create tech solutions that can save even more time.
For example, the biggest software time-savers for restaurants and retailers are cloud-based point of sale software and cloud-based inventory software. These programs deliver huge time savings on their own, making formerly-tedious tasks like stock counting and sales reconciliations a breeze.
But they also have the potential to connect with dozens of programs that handle tasks like accounting, HR, marketing, customer relationship management, email marketing, customer loyalty, and more.
With these tools, tasks like staff scheduling, staff communications, payroll, invoicing, and billing also take a fraction of the time than they would done manually.
Using integrated programs can simplify your work and processes even more. For example, account details for customers, employees and vendors may pass back and forth seamlessly among the programs with no need to enter information twice. Financial data and sales details are shared automatically among your accounting, point of sale, and marketing programs. With the right integrations, you won’t waste any more time compiling data manually or switching back and forth between programs.
Compared to paper, digital files have many time-saving advantages. Thanks to modern, cloud-based software tools, digital files are easily searchable, backed up automatically in the cloud, and accessible in moments from any internet-connected device.
If you haven’t gone paperless yet, consider how much time you could save each month searching for files, trying to replace missing or damaged hard copies, and compiling the data you need to get the reports you need.
Many SaaS programs come equipped with custom dashboards so owners and managers can check in on important KPIs at a glance.
When you use software to manage your operations, it’s easy to run custom reports and filter your data to identify trends and insights that can go on to save your business time and money in other ways.
It has never been easier to check in on your business’ financial health.
Document Your Processes
Most small business owners don’t bother documenting the actions they’re responsible for each day at work.
For one, the process of documentation can be time consuming in itself. It may also seem that some jobs are too obvious to warrant documentation. And if you’re just getting a business started or in the midst of making changes, you may still be hesitant to make any process official.
However, documenting processes so they’re easy to replicate has enormous time-saving benefits.
The biggest time savings may come during the onboarding process. Every time you make a new hire, you can rely on those documents to expedite training. It’s never safe to assume that the experience you’ve gained about the best ways to do things in your business will be obvious to others. Without documentation, you’ll spend many more hours with each new employee teaching them the ins and outs of their jobs.
But documentation also improves daily operations in other ways. Sticking with one documented process will make things run more smoothly and eliminate confusion. It will clarify the “right” processes for employees. Over time, it will make everyone’s jobs easier and reduce the number of “fires” that the owner has to put out.
Finally, documentation also makes difficult tasks easier to outsource, as we’ll discuss next.
Delegate to Experts and Consultants
Many small business owners are hesitant to delegate their work.
They tend to have a lot at stake with the company personally, so delegation requires a lot of trust. Plus, in the short term, delegation actually takes more time: Time to document the work required (as we just mentioned), time to search for the best candidates for the task, and time to train and evaluate them until they can do it well.
No wonder that small business owners often resort to doing the work themselves.
However, owners who don’t learn to delegate will find that it’s impossible to grow their businesses.
If you don’t start delegating your difficult work to experts, you may start losing ground to competitors. They’ll be saving lots of time, and that can give them a serious advantage.
If a difficult task can’t be automated with software, there’s still a good chance that you can find someone who can do it more quickly than you can, and who will make fewer mistakes.
When it comes to delegation, you have several options. Start by identifying the tasks that tend to create bottlenecks, or the tasks that tend to frustrate you the most on a personal level. Then, consider who is best equipped to take care of these tasks for you. You can hire an employee, a freelancer, a consultant, or an agency.
Tasks that are ideal for delegation may be ongoing, or they may be one-time tasks to get you through a particularly stressful period.
For example, there are entire companies that specialize in helping other businesses move from one location to another or perform full annual inventory reconciliations.
There are also companies like Cloudscape Technologies that work with small business owners to identify and implement the best new cloud-based software programs for their companies.
Making an Investment
You may have noticed that many of these time-saving solutions don’t work immediately.
It takes time to choose and learn new software, create systems for documenting internal processes, and identify people you trust with your work.
However, these efforts can go on to give your business a serious competitive advantage over time.
Start with the tasks that have the biggest potential for time saving, then continue to improve from there.
There are other perks to making more free time for yourself as a business owner. Even if you don’t see the value in taking occasional vacations from work, there is always the possibility of an emergency or health crisis that will keep you away from your business. Making sure that your day-to-day runs as smoothly as possible in your absence may help ensure that your business keeps its doors open -- and make it more attractive to potential buyers.
If you want to talk to us at Cloudscape Technologies about upgrading your software, please contact us for a free consultation. We are certified partners with leading cloud software developers including Vend, Unleashed Software, Xero, Lightspeed, and Shopify, and our expert staff has years of experience delivering expert solutions to clients.