Small Business Strategies and Practices
We’re all busy people, which is why the Small Business Success Library of books is a great way to get your hands on a lot of information, vital to your success, in easy bite-sized pieces. This anthology will give you lots of great, hands-on strategies for running your small business.
This book is presented in 3 sections: Business Efficiency, Stress Management, and Business Management.
Time is Money
Ask any small business owner what they wish they had just a little more of every day, and the answer is probably TIME. In an age where we have more time-saving gadgets than at any other time in history, most of us feel we have less time than ever before. Of course, it isn’t true that we have less time; there are still 24 hours in every day, and each of those hours has 60 minutes. We have just as many daylight hours as we did hundreds of years ago, only now we also have electricity to extend our productivity. All of us make choices each day about how we use the hours in a day, and if we’re living a balanced life, those choices will reflect our values and priorities. But many of us, at least sometimes, find ourselves wasting or frittering away precious minutes without even realizing it. Those minutes, added together, could give us extra time to spend with our kids or family, to get badly needed exercise or to just utilize in ways to increase our mental health. If you find yourself constantly running short on time, here are some tips on how to create minutes in your crazy, hectic day.
1. Make a “to do” list every day and review it often – there’s no way out of this one. Whether you’re a list-maker or not, you will be more productive if your daily tasks are clearly set
out for you, and if you review and revise often according to how your day is going.
2. Use your “spare” minutes wisely–all of
us have them – those minutes you spend
in the bank lineup, waiting at your doctor’s
office, sitting in traffic or driving to and from appointments, all add up. Whenever you leave your office, take things with you that you can do in ten minutes or less – an article you need to read, the staff evaluation you’ve been meaning to do, brainstorming to solve a business problem – make use of minutes that otherwise trickle away.
3. Turn driving time into learning time – most of us wish we had to spend less time in our cars, but you can turn that time into learning time. Always have motivational or educational CD’s or MP3’s in your car so that driving and waiting time becomes learning time. You can take an entire course in your vehicle as you drive to and from meetings, soccer games and music lessons!
4. Learn to say no and delegate – you don’t have to do it all, and learning what you can and can’t do is vital to your productivity and your sanity. Delegate the things you don’t need to do yourself, and learn to use the word NO more often.
5. Use your natural work rhythms to your advantage – recognize when your peak productivity hours are. Are you a morning person or are you most productive after dinner? Plan your most dif cult tasks during your natural peak hours and you’ll get more done in less time.
6. Communicate your schedule to others – so much time is wasted when someone else in your life schedules an appointment or activity at the same time as another event already on your agenda. This requires time reorganizing, re-prioritizing and rescheduling when a family calendar at work or an of ce calendar at home could have eliminated that stress.
7. Try to consistently get better sleep – depriving yourself of a good night’s rest to get something done is counterproductive. The time you think you saved the night before is actually robbing you the next day. Your fatigue from lack of sleep will make you less productive the next day.
8. Don’t rush through tasks – trying to get things done too quickly often results in having to redo them, or spend more time fixing mistakes later. Taking a little extra time to do a task well initially will prove more efficient than the time you’ll spend redoing it the second time.
9. Ask questions often – if you don’t know, don’t spend hours trying to find out yourself when someone else already has the answer. Pick up the phone, send an email, ask for help. This can save you hours of time.
10. Don’t rely on your memory – write everything down. When someone asks you to pick up
an extra package of paper while you’re at the stationery store put it on your list (remember #1?). It will save you having to make another trip if you forget. If you meet someone that you need to follow up with, jot it in your daytimer or smartphone. Make notes at meetings of things you need to do in a day, and then schedule them into your day. With all the things you have to do, your memory may fail you more often than not. Having things written down will save you hours trying to remember, or worse, recouping after you’ve forgotten to do them.
11.Don’t procrastinate – procrastination isn’t always logical. You know that you are going
to have to do that thing you don’t want to do, and putting it off isn’t going to make it go away. Think about the unpleasant sense of panic and stress you feel when you realize you can’t put
it off anymore and have very little time to do it. That may motivate you to get it done right away.
12. Have a daily “quiet hour” – this doesn’t necessarily mean a literal hour, but a time that you schedule every day to react on what you want to accomplish, review your priorities, and generate a calm strategy for your day. Many people fell that first thing in the morning is a great time to do this, others take their quiet break in the middle of the day, or in the evening before bed. A refocusing time each day will lead to better management of your time.
You may not be able to literally create more hours in your day, but you can make your days more productive and less stressful by managing your time just a little better. Make your minutes matter.
The rule of 5
Step 1 – Determine your priorities
This often isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when all our goals seem super important. Some of them will be business goals, some may be personal. One of the most effective method
of determining priorities that we’ve ever come across is the process of comparing them to each other. Here’s how it works. Write down a list of all the goals you have in mind (keep personal and business goals on separate lists to start). Number them 1 to however many are on your list (let’s say there’s 5). Then compare #1 and #2. If you had
to choose only one of those two, which would it be? Do the same with #1 and #3, then #1 and #4, and #1 and #5. When you are done, begin with the #2 and compare it with #’s 3-5. Then compare 4 and 5. When you look at your list, the number with the most checkmarks is your highest priority, the one with the second-most checkmarks is second, and so forth. You may be surprised when you look at goals that are apparent equal priorities and compare them with each other, one really will rise to the top. Once you know what your order of priorities is, you can move to step 2.
Step 2 – Determine your 5 actions for each priority
Let’s say that, out of the previous exercise, you decided to focus on the first 2 goals as a priority. The last three didn’t really score high enough for you to pay attention to them at this time, so you put them on a shelf for now. Now, determine the 5 specific actions you will do each day to move yourself toward each of your goals. Imagine that you had one business and one personal goal. The business goal was to increase your sales by 20% in the next 3 months. Each of these things is one small step toward reaching your goal. Now do the same for your personal goal. You may need to revise this list every day.
Step3–Just do it!
The last step requires being committed to The Rule of 5. It means disciplining yourself every day to do those five things. Those things are your five swings with the axe. Eventually, if you are persistent, your tree WILL fall.
This simple, but powerful strategy will make a huge difference to your success in goal attainment. Prioritize rest, determine your 5 steps, then DO. It’s that easy. Anyone can do just five things. After all, 5 things a day led Canfield and Hansen to super- stardom in the publishing industry. What could it do for your business?
Accelerate Your Business
Sometimes the activities involved in running your business make your head spin. It’s so busy you don’t have time to think and you get to the end
of each day happily exhausted with what you’ve accomplished. Orders are coming in, customers are buying, and your business is growing. Most small businesses go through cycles when it is this busy, but they also experience days or periods of time that are painfully slow – times when minutes feel like hours, customers seem to have all gone on vacation at the same time, and our production department is playing cards to fill the time. It may be tempting to put your feet up and check out
until it gets busy again, but you could be filling that valuable down time with activities that will improve your business productivity. Here are a few ideas for ways to stay busy, even when business is slow.
1. Send out a letter to your customers
Keep your business top of mind with your customers. Keeping in touch with customers can get forgotten when things are busy, so when you find yourself in a slowdown, take the opportunity to touch base again. It doesn’t have to be much – just remind them that you’re there. Let them know if there’s something new they might be interested in, or write a brief article on an area of your expertise and their interest (e.g. 7 Ways To Keep Your Carpets Fresh, Tips to Get Your Home Ready to Sell).
2. Organize your office
Oh, that chore. Yes, from time to time it’s good to get caught up on your ling, look through those piles of stuff and decide to throw most of it away. File the good ideas where you might actually look at them again. Clear off your desk, organize your books, and generally de-clutter your space. Don’t forget your computer desktop. Once it gets busy again, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Meet with other business owners
This is the time to form some alliances, build partnerships and just get together with other people. When we’re busy, we rarely take time to network, work with our mentors or just hang out with our colleagues. These activities can be the springboard to new ideas, information about your industry or market and might even lead to new customers!
4. Catch up on your expenses/books/taxes
For small business owners this is often a task that repeatedly falls to the bottom of the “to do” list. Then, come tax time it’s a scramble to find and record all your receipts and get them ready for your accountant to do year end. Do some of that organizing when you have time, and you’ll be amazed how good it feels to have that stuff ready to go when it needs to be.
5. Play with your staff
If business is slow, it means everybody is bored. Take this opportunity to do some teambuilding.
Plan a potluck staff meeting. Do some teambuilding activities. Watch training videos you never have time for. The staff that plays together, stays together.
6. Actually DO all the things in your “to do” pile
Admit it – you have one. That pile of things you mean to do if you only had the time. That article you need to edit, newsletters you want to read, ideas you want to flesh out, the book you wanted to order, the magazine you wanted to clip the article out of, the expenses that need to be led, the letter you’ve been meaning to write . . . the list goes on. Think of how many productive things you could do if you actually attacked your to-do pile when you had some spare time.
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From the economist Paul Ronner, the founder of Grande Economic, a 2016 guide. Small Business Strategies and Practices No storyline, just practices and techniques learned from the previous years and from a great entrepreneur community. Financial Support Growing of a Company Management Techniques Freelancing Many others.