There is one thing that every entrepreneur always needs — TIME.
Time allows us to sell and build our businesses (and hopefully have a life). But no matter what we do to find more time, it often seems there is never enough. And not having enough certainly doesn’t bode well for our businesses’ success — or productivity. However, believe it or not, extra time does in fact exist when you know how to find it and reassess the ways in which you’re currently utilizing the hours at your disposal.
Systemize Every Process
If you’re anything like me, chances are you wear a lot of different hats everyday. You deal with many people, constantly find yourself putting out fires, take many meetings, and–oh yea–have a life. Being the boss pulls you in every direction imaginable, which is why it’s vital that you systemize your life in every way possible and remain organized, effective and always on point as a result. Create email rules in your email client program to prioritize your inbox. Perfect a file tree system on your computer that keeps your folders and business documents highly organized. Eliminate tasks that are time drains. Know what times of the day you will turn off your phone and email to “get in the zone.” When you effectively systemize your business procedures you will be able to better scale and properly staff (whether in-house or virtual) your business with growth. As your company grows, putting the right systems in place will allow you to work “on” your business instead of “in” your business.
Automate Your Business
Technology solves many small business and freelancers woes–and also allows you to eliminate many remedial activities. Tasks that used to sometimes take hours now only take minutes. Online bill pay options will ensure that you never need to write a check and mail it again. Invoicing and estimates can be completed in seconds with FreshBooks. Dynamic video presentations can be produced in minutes with Animoto. Bottom line: look for solutions that will help keep you focused on your main priority — immediate revenue generation.
Create a Back-Up Boredom Plan
You should never simply take a break because you think you’ve got “nothing to do.” That is never an acceptable answer for a small business owner or freelancers — there is always something to do! Lead generation, revising marketing tactics, networking…the list is endless. For moments where you “can’t think of something to do”, break out a boredom back up plan. This is a an ever-growing and permanent set of tasks that will always help you move your business forward. My boredom back-up plan includes tasks such as “research 10 new business leads”, “review competitor offers”, and “introduce myself to five new people that might connect me to new business or other strategic relationships.” Only take scheduled breaks and days off to remain efficient and productive.
After all, even if you systemize and automate everything in your business, you won’t know how effective you are until you put your procedures to the test. Daily and weekly time management assessments are vital to your efficiency. Use services such as FreshBooks and RescueTime to track time spent on your activities, projects and tasks. Every time you complete a task, determine if there is a better way to complete it next time. Ask yourself if each of your tasks could have been better planned, outsourced, automated more efficiently — or cut altogether.
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated small business columnist, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council and author of Never Get a “Real” Job, which is on shelves today. Visit NeverGetaRealJob.com for more information.