When running a home business, it’s extremely difficult when you have limited time and resources. There are some good approaches to running a business at home that will help make life easier. We’ll explore a few of those now.
Don’t Try to Do Everything Yourself
Trying to be a Jack or Jo of all trades never ends well in a business setting. The reality is that no one can be great at everything. The more detail-oriented the task, and when it relies on experience and the development of expertise, it’s just impossible to be excellent at it.
Compare this to someone who’s worked in one field and a certain role for the past four years, is fully current with the latest technology or software, and can hit the ground running right away. Even if they need some on-the-job training and start off slower than you and make some mistakes initially, they’ll quickly surpass what you were capable of.
Knowing when you need assistance is one of the key attributes of a good business owner. You want to do this before you run aground as it’s harder to get rescued than it is to steer in a better direction before running aground.
Look to outsource professional services first like accounting, legal, and payroll. Also, small repetitive tasks that must get done but eat into your time should be outsourced to a virtual assistant.
Use a Website Platform and Proofing
Using a website platform rather than trying to create a website in-house saves bundles of time. While you may have tinkered with web design in the past – perhaps in your spare time – it’s important to take things more seriously now. There’s simply no time to waste on being a perfectionist when it comes to the business’s website.
To avoid the tendency to micromanage a web design studio, use a software platform such as Format. They provide a limited number of themes to choose from which helps narrow down the look of the website quickly. There’s still the ability to customize the fonts, colours and other elements to make the site your own, so don’t worry about it not being personal.
Also, you can pick and choose images for the website and include them. If you want to allow friends or business colleagues to look at the images if you cannot decide which ones are best, then you can use Format’s built-in photo proofing facility which will let them select the best images and add comments about them. This will save time with emails back and forth about their impressions because the information is collected while they’re on the site.
Automate Wherever Possible
One of the benefits of sophisticated coding languages and bots is the ability to automate more tasks than ever. The benefit here is to get tasks completed without having to be reminded about them because part or all the task is done automatically.
The simplest example of this is automated bill paying for the business. Once set up correctly, payments go out without having to think about them. There’s no forgetting to pay a regular bill; it just gets done.
Automation runs much deeper though. Take IFTTT. It’s a smart tool that encourages mobile apps to share information on the same device. With this done, users can create their own conditional statements that trigger actions. For instance, an applet gets set up to create a custom alert when it hears from a certain customer by email.
There are many ways to use a tool like IFTTT to automatically trigger follow-up actions in response to earlier ones. This takes the thinking time right out of the equation which allows you to stay focused on the primary task that you’re working on at that time.
Setting up a series of Google Alerts for the business brand, web address, and other items can alert you when the brand is mentioned online. This can capture people commenting about the company on social media, forums and other web pages. Stepping in and replying directly on that medium demonstrates that your company is willing to engage in meaningful dialog and it’s one that is paying attention to what customers think.
Understand What Your Business’s Core Activities Are
What are the core activities of the business? This may be the things that move the business forward or signal success in your mind.
Small businesses usually have tight finances, so getting new deals, sending out invoices and securing early payment might constitute core activities to you.
Identify the things for the business that you consider core to its survival and future success. When you outsource non-essential or non-core tasks, it provides the opportunity to put extensive time into what really matters. If growing baseline revenue and earnings by 25% annually is your goal, then that must be broken down into key tasks that are designed to achieve those goals and then monitor progress along the way. Being ready to respond to falling behind ensures the business can catch up to where you want it to be.
Wherever possible, batch related tasks together. How they’re related may be because they’re actioned on the same computer, using the same software or at the same location.
The ability to focus deeper means you’re better able to get into the zone to breeze through related tasks quickly in a single sitting. The batching process works extremely well on non-creative or administrative tasks to build them up and then blast through them. Block time in your work calendar to process batches of tasks.
Single Focused, No Multi-Tasking
Along with batches, avoid multi-tasking. Embrace single tasking by only working on one task at a time.
You lose concentration and focus when bouncing from one task to another. The same is true with a loss of concentration when interrupted frequently. By working to avoid interruptions and staying focused on a single task, it’s possible to get more done in less time.
Strictly Control Meetings
Meetings are often necessary but waste considerable time. They can be conducted in-person, on a conference call or through a service like Skype.
Here’s how to have more efficient meetings:
- Set a fixed meeting time
- Have a set agenda
- Allocate time for each point on the agenda
- Finish at a set time
- Manage the meeting to move to the next point to stay on schedule
- If in-person, try standing room only meetings to keep them shorter
- Focus on solutions and next actions
- Remember – Meetings are to move the business forward; not a general complaint session
Managing Time Effectively
Packing in too much into a work day and longer week will eventually lead to burnout. This is especially true when working overly long hours, out of office hours or at weekends.
The human body requires time for recovery. Moreover, anything creative in the business needs a well-rested mind to generate useable ideas, so sleep is very important to maintain this. Owning a home-based business also includes the need for strategic thinking which again is difficult to do when overly tired.
Running a home business can be very rewarding. It’s your business and you own it. To maintain it, you must be sensible in allocating resources appropriately. It’s the only way the business can survive for the long-term.
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