There is no doubt that running a business takes up a great deal of time. In fact, the business alone could easily swallow hours of your day, let alone the time you also need to dedicate to family commitments and working on your health and fitness. And that doesn’t even factor in a social life or taking time for relaxation.
Eventually something has to give, and it usually ends up with burnout at the most severe end of the scale or at the very least that dreaded feeling of overwhelm.
What can be done then to streamline your business and leave time for every other aspect of life? Well, as the saying goes, work will always expand to fill the space available. We all know when we have a deadline we will get it done, whereas if the timeline is less fixed, we can procrastinate forever. So that’s the first step, to give yourself much more clear boundaries about when you are going to spend time on your business, and for every goal highlight a deadline.
The next step is to lessen the amount you have to do in your business by putting in place some automation tools and techniques – and the great news is many of these are free.
When someone signs up for your newsletter, the best way to create a great first impression, plus potentially make more sales, is to keep in touch with them.
Most email providers will offer an autoresponder service and if you opt for Mailchimp this can be done for free, at least until you have 2,000 subscribers or more. Your autoresponder series should welcome people to your list; provide great content which builds trust in you as a business; plus tell people about your services and/or products. Done right an autoresponder (or funnel) can make sales around the clock.
Social Media Scheduling
Social media is great for building your audience, but it can also be a huge time suck, particularly if you pop on to Facebook for 5 minutes and leave 3 hours later after having consumed more information than you ever did while spending 7 years at school!
The answer is social media scheduling and two great tools for this are Buffer and Smarterqueue. Buffer does have a free starter option but for the full set of tools you will need to go premium, which is about $10 per month, and Smarterqueue is a paid service. However, it’s even more set and forget as you can queue and recycle evergreen content.
Social Media Images
One of the most time consuming elements of social media is creating graphics to accompany your posts. Once you have created the image you then need to resize it for all the different requirements of every platform. Ahhhhhh!
The simplest solution is Stencil, which gives you access to photos, graphics and fonts to create an attention capturing image. Plus is allows you to resize your images at the click of a button. Start with 10 images for free per month, or upgrade if you need more.
Communicating With Your Team
If you have employees or even just work with freelancers or a VA you can streamline communication by using a free tool such as Asana. Not only does this help everyone understand what their role is in a project, with clearly defined tasks, but it also helps you track deadlines. And as we said earlier, deadlines are what help keep work manageable.
There are many accounting software options out there, Quickbooks is one example, but as this will be an important aspect of your business it’s worth doing some research. A good tool can send and track invoices; get you paid quicker; and ultimately help you keep a handle on your business expenses. All of which will save a huge amount of time when the tax deadline season rolls around.
If you work regularly with clients it can be quite time consuming to go back-and-forth booking appointments. A simpler solution is to get set up on one of the calendar tools, such as Calendly or Acuity, and then simply send clients the link so they can easily book a time which suits them.
It also means that you can ask any questions and get the person’s contact details all within the system, so you are ready for the call without having to do any manual work.
Set up Canned Responses
If you find that you get a lot of very similar emails, maybe asking about products or your services, you can part-automate the replies by setting up ready prepared email responses.
If you use Gmail these are called canned responses. Create them around the emails that you most frequently send and then when the time comes to reply to someone’s query, simply amend a few details, such as the person’s name or anything time sensitive and you are good to go. Most email software will offer similar options but if you have a bigger business, you can even outsource this task or use a helpdesk ticketing system.
There we have seven time saving tips. Implement even one or two of these and you should start to see some time freed up. Implement them all and you will find yourself with more time to work on your business rather than in it.