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Grow Your Small Business Without Working Longer or Harder

July 10, 2014
| Articles

Most people have a tough time managing their time. And because they don’t (or can’t) manage their time properly, their productivity suffers.

 

Some of the biggest time management and productivity offenders are folks running small busineses.

 

“There simply isn’t enough time to do everything that needs to be done!”

 

With so much going on, it feels like you’re drowning in work. How are you going to grow your small business if you can’t even stay on top of your current work load?

 

 

It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

 

It’s only natural to assume that growing a small business will require you to work harder and longer. But what if there was a way to grow your business without doing either?

It’s All About Working Smarter – and Changing Your Perspective

 

Any small business owner worth his salt knows it’s impossible to sustain working longer and harder in the long term. You’re going to burn yourself out and lose your business in the process.

 

Working smarter is your only option.

 

Now usually, working smarter means hiring more people, delegating work, and using automated systems, etc. And those are all great options. They work well and take the pressure off you.

 

But they don’t solve the problem.

 

You still need to work harder and longer as you grow your business.

 

What does solve the problem is changing the way you perceive hard work.

 

If you focus on the results you get instead of the number of hours you work or how hard you work, then you’re going to make your life a lot easier. You might even allow yourself to relax and take a break. (Shocking, right?)

 

Thankfully there are a number of things you can do to grow your business without working longer or harder.

 

Manage Your Priorities – Not Your Time

 

Everyone focuses on time management. When what they should really be doing is focus on managing their priorities.

 

Think about it. If it was really important, you’d make time for it.

 

A runner puts his morning run above everything else. He makes sure he gets up for his morning run even he’s had a late night. In fact, he makes sure he never has a late night. He doesn’t change his running schedule to suit his daily schedule. He schedules his day around his morning run.

 

Take the time figure out what tasks are really important for your business. Make them a priority and get them done before you tackle anything else.

 

Get Smart About the Apps You Use

 

You can’t run a business without using desktop, mobile, and web apps these days. From accounting software, cloud storage, to social media management – everything runs on apps.

 

Take an inventory of all the apps you’re using in your business – including the ones that are downloaded on your phone, computer and browser. Do you really need so many?

 

Do you really need a mobile, desktop and browser version of your accounting app?

 

Be brutal about limiting your app use. Try new ones and find apps that do multiple things instead of having just one function.

 

Delete the apps you haven’t used in more than a month. If your business hasn’t been effected by the app not being used for a month, you don’t need it.

 

See where I’m going with this? Don’t just use an app because it’s useful. Use it because it helps grow your business and saves you time.

 

Email is Your Friend – Not Your Enemy

 

Sometimes, managing your email inbox feels like you’re managing a second business. The sheer volume of email you get can take anywhere from 30 minutes (if you’re really fast and delete most of your emails) to a few hours every day.

 

That’s nuts!

 

Email is there to help your business. Not stop you from running it.

 

Harden your email loving heart and turn off email notifications on your desktop, phone and any other gadget you’ve set up your email app on. Only check it when you have a few minutes to spare.

 

Better yet, designate email checking time throughout your day. I know business owners who check their email every couple of hours. In between those hours, they close their inbox and put their phone face down and far away.

 

Get over the mentality of responding to emails ASAP. Replying to them after two hours is still prompt.

 

Also, figure out requests you won’t entertain. Things you always say no to. Now instead of answering to these emails, simply delete them. People survive without getting a response. In fact, when someone doesn’t get a reply – they realize it’s because the person isn’t interested.

 

If that goes against your email etiquettes, master the art of conciseness. Give up on writing nice emails that start with “Hi there, I read your email and thought about what you said. Unfortunately, I can’t do what you ask blah, blah, blah.”

 

Instead, write “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” Or “Thanks but no thanks.”

 

Routine is Your Best Friend

 

Our brains love routine. They recognize what’s coming next and start revving up for the next task.

 

As a writer, I’ve always found my 30-minute pre-writing routine to work brilliantly. I little window gazing, 10 minutes of Google Plus, and responding to emails while I sip my cuppa is all it takes to find my writing groove.

 

It takes time to train your brain to recognize a routine but start doing it today and you’re going to be all set in a couple of weeks.

 

Keep Experimenting

 

The thing with small business productivity is that there’s no one universal strategy that fits all.

 

Every business owner must find his unique blend of strategies and priorities that work.

 

The only rule of thumb that applies to every small business is to keep experimenting. Keep trying new tools and tactics to improve your productivity so you can focus on what’s most important professionally (growing your small business) without compromising on what’s most important personally (your health and personal life).

 

Does your small business consume every waking minute of your day? Have you taken any steps to improve your productivity? We’d love to hear what worked or what didn’t work for you. Tell us in the comments!

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