There are so many hats you need to wear as a small business owner, so many things to juggle, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activities you need to get done.  So it’s sensible and reasonable to work out a way you can prioritise what you need to do.

However, a better approach is to think in terms of what can I eliminate, automate or streamline. If you were to write a list of all the tasks you do on a daily basis, and then treat each of them in one of these three ways, you can bet you’ll be saving time, effort and energy in the long run. There’s a very simple process to follow to do this in your business, which I’ll share with you now.

  1. Write a list of all the activities you do.
  2. Next to each activity on your list, make a note- E (eliminate) A (automate) or S (streamline).

Now I’ll look at a few of those tasks on our list and see how we might deal with them.

Banking – if you’re anything like me, standing in a queue at the bank is not your idea of fun. Maybe you don’t mind going to the bank every couple of days and depositing wads of cash, your call. If I found this to be happening in my business, there’s a good chance I’d stop accepting cash, and insist on credit card or electronic funds transfer. If banking takes you an hour every week-here’s a way to reclaim that time without effecting cash flow. Eliminate taking cash, and there’s no more standing in line at the bank. At one trip per week, that’s half a day a month. You could squeeze in a round of golf instead!

Invoicing – staying up until midnight to catch up with invoicing has got to become a thing of the past. You need to find a way to streamline this process, ideally so it happens in real time. If you’re doing maintenance or service work, you can build a really neat process, which has you not only invoicing clients, but accepting either credit-cards or EFT at the completion of each job. And this tends to have a ripple on effect; very good for cash-flow, great for aged-receivables and less headaches all round. No more staying up late invoicing a couple of nights a week. Depending on your business, this could save you anything up to 4 hours per week. Take it back, now.

Follow-up – forget generating an invoice and emailing it to the customer. You’ve already invoiced them on the job. Now you just want to send a nice note, thanking them for their business, and providing them with an opportunity to leave some positive feedback. So a signature block with links to your Google review, LinkedIn and Facebook page for client feedback would be a great way to close the loop. You do this through your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, so it just happens through automation a few days after the job is completed. At 10 minutes a job, it depends how many invoices you generate as to how much time you save-but it’s a lot of time; precious time, when you add it all up.

So review all the activities you do in your business, and apply the simple rule of thumb. What can I eliminate, automate or streamline in MY business?

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