Do you use tools to save time in your business? Being a small business owner often means that you are doing everything in your business, wearing all the hats!  But because you are small you haven’t got the money to outsource yet.  Using tools in your business can save time  allowing you to focus on income generating work so that you make more money and then you can outsource some work!  So, what tools could you look at for your business?

Workflows

Write a list of the apps/tools/software you currently use in your business.  Many of the apps available now also have built in integrations so check there first to see what other apps you could link with to create workflows.  If you can’t find the app you want to integrate with then go to Zapier to see if you can automate any workflows from there.  Zapier works with lots of different apps so there is bound to be something there for you. 

Calendar

Use your Calendar to block out time.  There are lots of free calendars out there so see what works for you.

  • Why do you want to be more focused on using your time better? Do you want more time to work on moving your business forward, spending more time with your family or just leaving work at a decent time? Focus on the reason when you’re filing out your calendar so you can create more time for this.
  • Bookend your days by adding a start and finishing time.
  • Add your morning and evening routines to look after your health and wellbeing.
  • Block time out for all the things you must do during the day Like eat, sleep, the school run etc. Things that absolutely must be done. 
  • Then block in client time and your working day like checking emails, making phone calls etc. Make sure that you keep similar jobs together. 
  • Block out time for deep work to move your business forward.
  • Also block in time for emergencies or interruptions.

 Project Management Tools

There are plenty of project management tools out there and most of them have a free option.  I use Trello to manage my tasks for different clients.  I have a board per client and then cards for each task.  I copy emails and enter them on each card, so I know exactly what has happened with the task without having to search through emails.  You can also add checklists and deadline dates and will get an email telling you that the deadline is coming up for the task.  It means that everything is out of your head and recorded giving you more thinking space, helps you to be more organised and takes the pressure off.

80/20 Rule or Pareto principle

What is the 80/20 Rule?  This states that 80% of your work comes from 20% of your clients.  That 80% of sales comes from selling 20% of products.  You get the idea!  So, identify what 20% of tasks you could work on in your business that would move it forward 80%.

Divert your phone!

This is a simple but effective way to save time and focus on your work.  Put your phone through to call answering service who will take a message for you and send you a notification.  This way you can block all your phone calls together making best use of your time and stop interruptions. 

Collaboration Tools

Have all the documents you share in one place so that you only have one copy of everything, and make this the copy that is updated.  You can share your documents with clients or associates so that everyone has access to everything all in the same place.  I use Google Drive and Dropbox for this, and it works really well.

Time Recording

Not sure where your time is going or must account for time for client work?  Use a time recording software.  There are lots out there and many have a free option.  I use minutedock.  You can create your clients and different tasks, then start the clock when you start work on this task for them and stop it when you want to work on something else.  You can also record your time for tasks you do in your business to see where you’re spending all your time.  You can create a report at the end of the week/month to see how many hours you have spent on it.  You can also integrate it with your accounting package to create invoices.  Mine is integrated with Xero which makes invoicing super quick and easy!

Cloud accounting

Using accounting software in the cloud makes it easy to keep control of your paperwork. You can send invoices and receipts to it from your phone or email and integrate it with your bank so that every transaction can be reconciled, and the correct documentation attached to it.  You can easily send invoices, create bills and expenses for your business. I use Xero which is very intuitive and easy to use.

Email marketing

Newsletters are a great way to keep in contact with your clients/customers and grow your list.  Create a template for your newsletter so that you can reuse it every week or month depending on how often you want to keep in contact with them.  You can also create landing pages for growing your list and schedule several emails to go out in sequence to nurture your list as well as selling products and services.  I use Mailchimp and Active Campaign but look and see what could work for you.

Google forms

These are great, I have a google form that I use as my discovery form so that I can get the information I need to see if the client is a good fit before I spend time on the phone speaking to them.  This save loads of my time and means that I can focus on productive work.  The form can also create a spreadsheet with the answers and then you could use Zapier to add certain information into your CRM system.  This saves time and means that there are less mistakes made when transferring data.

Consider making a google form payable so that you can sell membership, products and services or accept donations.  Look and see how you could use google forms for your business.

Scheduling Social Media

Do you use software to schedule your posts?  Look at buffer, and Hootsuite and schedule in Facebook.  You could have a free account for Buffer and Hootsuite and scheduling in Facebook is free so that you can schedule all your posts for the week all at the same time when it’s convenient to you.  Alternatively, you could pay for a scheduling tool and schedule all in the same place.

Creating graphics for social media/print and lots more

I use Canva to do this.  You can create templates for your posts or use their templates with your brand colours and then just add different information for each post. This makes it super easy to stay on brand so that your business is instantly recognisable and quick too as you can just copy a graphic and just change the information on it!

You can also use Canva to create products to sell online and to create leaflets, posters etc to print.   There are lots of free templates or you can make your own!

Which tools do you use in your business and why?

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