Owning your own business is both a joy and a pain. A joy because you are your own boss, you take pride in what you created, and it gives you greater control and flexibility. A pain because the buck stops with you. You alone are at the end of the day you’re ultimately responsible for all the outcomes—good or bad. Ugh. Also, in the early stages you’re wearing all the hats: customer service, accounting, product development, and marketing, along with a myriad of other duties. It’s rewarding and overwhelming. One of the keys to reduce the stress of entrepreneurship is to develop efficiency in all that you do.
Great-great-grandpa may have worked his fields with a one-horse plow, but once engine-powered tractors were invented agriculture was transformed. What used to take perhaps weeks was reduced to hours or a matter of a few days. What was once a tedious and demanding process became manageable through technological advances and automation.
Here are three suggestions for increasing efficiency within your business.
Use an Auto Attendant
Consider using a basic “auto attendant” recording on your business line that answers the most common questions such as hours, location, and availability. If you don’t have a dedicated business line, Google Voice is a good free option. There are also low-cost alternatives to Google Voice that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
Either of these options can provide you with a dedicated phone number where calls can be forwarded to your mobile phone or landline, or can be accessed through your computer. Doing this will free up time rather than being tied to your phone at all hours!
1. Use Templates
Are you emailing clients and potential customers by typing out a 100% unique personal response every time, or creating email campaigns from scratch week to week? Take the time to create or use a readymade template so the only thing you need to input is a person’s name or a link to your new article. Your email or newsletter headings, logo, signature, and company information should already be set so you’re not spending valuable time recreating material that could easily be made ready to go.
2. Document Processes
Do you rely on a virtual assistant or project manager to take care of important tasks? What would happen if they quit or had to take a leave of absence for a while? Would you be able to simply take over the reins or train someone to fill the position?
When all the ins and outs of performing certain tasks or the login information to subscription services (or your blog) are only known to your assistant or business partner, you’re setting yourself up for trouble! It’s true that you can’t know it all or you wouldn’t be hiring others for their expertise, but it’s imperative that you have access to accounts and are familiar with processes in the event your VA runs off to the Bahamas with her pool man (or worse yet with your pool man).
3. Evaluate Your Business
Take the time to look at your business and all the tasks you and your team perform every day. In what ways can you be more efficient? What products, tools, or services would help you maximize your time and efforts? By making changes and streamlining operations, it frees up valuable time and greatly reduces the pain of running your own business while increasing the joy. And if you automate enough, you and your pool man might be able to sneak off to the Bahamas every once in a while.