We probably don’t need to tell you that small business owners work an average of more than 50 hours per week. Feel familiar? Putting in more hours doesn’t necessarily result in more profits or business growth. Experts estimate that business owners lose more than 20 hours per week thanks to inefficient work strategies.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Small business owners can take back their time and make their operations more efficient by using a few key time hacks.
Start by Setting SMART, Process-Based Goals
Your first step in making each business hour more efficient starts with creating SMART processes, which means ensuring every goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. It sounds logical enough, but it’s really easy to get lost in the everyday weeds and forget to be SMART with each step.
Stopping to breathe, think, and apply SMART principles to every business goal will not only help put an end to feeling like you’re working hard and not getting anywhere, but it'll also make every hour more efficient. SMART goals translate into working well, smarter, and helping you provide better service to your customers while still giving you time to keep growing your business.
For example, prompt customer communication can be a challenge. If you’re frustrated by customer complaints about not having messages returned in a timely fashion, your first step should be to define what “timely fashion” means. Is it within the hour, or within a business day? Does this answer change depending on the month? HVAC customers in southern states will count every humid summer moment until you respond. Leaving these customers to sweat it out for hours could mean losing their business to a faster-responding competitor. Even worse, it could lead to a very public negative review on popular review sites like Yelp and Google.
Goals versus SMART goals
A goal is vague and non-specific, such as, “We need to respond to customers faster.”
A SMART goal is precise and concrete, such as, “We must respond to customers by text, phone, or email within two hours.”
Not only is responding to customers by text, phone, or email within two hours a good, SMART goal, it also is easily obtainable with field service management software. Small business owners can quickly respond to customers via text or phone, with real-time communication and VoIP solutions like ServiceCall.ai.
Setting a series of small SMART goals helps small business owners accomplish the following:
- Prioritize business demands
- Create new metric benchmarks to make better plans
- Work more efficiently
- Provide better customer service
Small goals add up and will help you reach larger service goals faster, along with better preparing you for both busy and slow times of the year.
Pro tip: Don’t know where to start with SMART goals? Hubspot has an excellent worksheet for developing SMART processes.
Small Business Owners Need to Delegate
It’s your business. You've put your heart, soul, and money into it, and you need to ensure everything meets your high standards. But that doesn't mean you need to do everything yourself. On any given week, about 68 percent of your time is consumed by daily administrative tasks, not business growth strategy or planning.
To work smarter and operate more efficiently, small business owners must delegate. For an entrepreneur, that’s easier said than done. Letting go of that control can be difficult—your business is both a labor of love and your livelihood.
Learn to let go. We're not saying to hand out tasks like Halloween candy; like everything you do, delegation takes thought. First, determine what's truly essential for you to do (and what’s not). Take the list of what you don’t need to be doing, and assign tasks based on skill and experience. Delegating helps business owners continue to serve their current customer base while attracting new customers and planning future growth.
Remember, you hired smart people—let them be smart. Micromanaging will defeat the purpose of delegation and leave you with frustrated employees.
Plan Ahead: Schedule Your Work Day
It sounds like a no-brainer, but scheduling your days ahead of time can get complicated. You may begin every week with an idea of what needs to be done, but it seems impossible to plan for the unexpected issues that will need your attention.
For most small business owners, project management tools are a crucial investment. They can help you evaluate processes, make a tighter schedule, improve cost-tracking, and ensure project efficiency. Project management tools help operations stay nimble, leaving room for the inevitable “surprise” issues.
Get Small Business Money Management Help
If you’re like most small business owners, money management feels like a separate full-time job.
There's no shortage of advice on how to best manage your small business money, but every small business has its own financial requirements and goals. However, most experts agree that using automation and bookkeeping software is essential. Even better, find a solution that streamlines your bookkeeping and finances into one easy-to-use platform. You’ll free up more of your own time and have new tools to maximize your financial management.
Don’t Go It Alone
Running your own small service business can bring great satisfaction—and great stress if your business doesn’t grow. When you’re not making the most of your time, it’s easy to feel like you’re stuck in neutral, or even worse, going in reverse.
Whether you’re a two-person operation or if you have a team of 10, get some help growing your business using field service management. Start with downloading this free e-book, How Field Service Management Helps Grow Your Business.