Business Tips

4 productivity tips for small business owners

If you own a small business, you know “busy”! The average business owner reports having only 1.5 hours of uninterrupted, productive time each day. When your attention is divided, it’s easy to feel like your to-do list just keeps growing with endless small tasks. Or you may have the eerie feeling that you’re forgetting to do about a dozen things, some of which may lose you business! Here are 4 easy productivity tips to help you maximize your day, so you can spend more time maximizing your business.

Whatever the task, take advantage of the moment. Future you will be thankful you did.

1. Don’t put off the little things

You’ve probably said to yourself, “I’ll get to that later, I’ve got bigger things to worry about right now.” Delaying the small tasks in the hopes that it will help you be more productive might actually do the opposite.

When you put off doing little things like calling or emailing a customer back, you run the risk of forgetting important details, or the task altogether. Then when it comes time to do the task in question, you spend valuable time retracing your steps to remember what needs to be done.

You also run the risk of filling up your to-do list with a bunch of “little things” that can make you feel overwhelmed. Not only do a day’s worth or week’s worth of little tasks all add up to a big chunk of time when you finally complete them, often the longer the to-do list, the less to-do’s end up getting crossed off.

When faced with a long list of tasks, many people waste valuable time stressing about the amount of work ahead. Or they cycle through everything they need to remember on repeat. Or they just avoid their to-do list altogether. All of this can lead to lost business.

So, what’s the solution? Don’t put off the little things. Send a follow-up text to that new lead as soon as you hang up the phone.  Add their contact information to your phone right then and there. Pull up your notes app and jot down important details from the call right away before you forget them. Whatever the task, take advantage of the moment. Future you will be thankful you did.

Prioritize tasks and keep the number of tasks to an amount that you can realistically achieve.

2. Set achievable goals

One of the best ways to get the most out of the day is to sit down in the morning, or even the night before, and plan out all of your tasks in a to-do list. A to-do list will help you stay organized and focused. It’s important to approach your to-do list with some amount of strategy. Prioritize the tasks on the list and keep the number of tasks to an amount that you can realistically achieve.

To-do lists aren’t just a short-term planning tool. They can help you map out the coming week, month, or even year. Long-term to-do lists help you evaluate the big picture, set goals and break down what needs to be done to achieve those goals.

To manage your to-do list, utilize tools already on your phone or computer like Notes and Calendar functions. Or you can take advantage of task management apps like Trello, Wunderlist or Remember the Milk.

tips for small business

3. Organize your customers

If your customer list is organized in some sort of customer management system, it can really improve your productivity. It can help you:

  • Separate your personal and business contacts.
    Segmenting your contacts not only helps you stay organized, but it also helps you draw a clear line between your business and your personal life.
  • Easily access customer information like email, phone number, or appointment history.
    When customer data is organized and easy to find, you don’t have to waste time searching for the information you need and can focus on doing what you love, serving your customers and running your business.
  • Segment contacts so sending marketing messages is more efficient.
    When you create lists of contacts who have similar qualities (location, purchase history, etc.) it’s easier to send them information that they will find valuable.

One of the main things that impacts your choice of customer management tools is how customers contact you. For example, if customers contact you on your personal cellphone, it might be beneficial to add a dedicated business 2nd number to your phone using Sideline to keep your business and personal communications separate. Or if your customers contact you via email, store all of their email addresses in one online tool like HubSpot or QuickBooks.

4. Take some tasks off your plate

One huge thing that you can do to increase your productivity, is divide tasks between yourself and your team. While this might seem pretty straightforward, it can be a challenge for many small business owners. Divvying up tasks means that you have to give up some amount of control and just trust that your team will complete tasks according to your standards.

A task that is easy to share with your team is fielding customer communication. By sharing the responsibility of fielding calls and texts can really help open up your day, so you spend less time working as a receptionist and more time on the big picture tasks and strategy that can potentially grow your business.

To increase your productivity, divide tasks between yourself and your team.

There are a number of tools out there that can help you streamline your customer communication process, including Sideline’s Team Number feature. With Team Number, you and your team can access a shared inbox where anyone can respond to customer calls and text messages. So if someone is in the middle of something, there is no need for them to drop everything to answer. The phone rings for everyone on the Team Number.

But what if you don’t have a big team and you are a team of 1 or 2. Are there still things you can do to take tasks off your plate? The answer is yes. When you are a team of 1 or 2, one of the easiest way to lighten your workload is by automating the small tasks that you do every day, like responding to customer texts or returning customer calls. While it may be a small thing, it can still be time-consuming. Why not automate it and take that task off your plate? Sideline’s Auto-Reply feature automatically responds to missed calls with a text message, letting customers know you will get back to them shortly.

To learn more about Sideline’s features and how they can make your life easier and grow your business, take a look at some of the blog posts listed below.
Header Image: svetikd via iStock

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