For the roles and responsibilities that go along with each hat, you need to allocate time, for which there are always opportunity costs. Entrepreneurs must be as productive as possible using the tools and resources they can source online, buy from local retailers or barter for with fellow small business owners.
Five must-know efficiency tips for your business
As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats: CEO. Vice President of Sales. Marketing Director. Caterer. Custodian. There often isn’t enough time in the day to complete everything that needs to get done.
Here are five ways you can reclaim your time, prioritize the work you love and accelerate business growth along the way.
1. Eat the frog first
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest (or ugliest) one first.”
This quotation may or may not be correctly attributed to Mark Twain; regardless, it’s solid business advice.
In other words, do the most difficult jobs at the start of the day, week or month. Completing the most difficult tasks first will make the rest of the day’s activities seem more manageable. Further, tackling the most challenging job when you are fresh and rested will make it less stressful.
Of course, to decide which of your entrepreneurial tasks or projects is the “froggiest,” you need to have a complete view of what needs to get done every day. Luckily, there are apps for that: Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote and Evernote are excellent basic apps available for free. You may also subscribe to expanded productivity services like G Suite or Office 365, which offer additional tools for collaboration and publishing.
2. Move beyond your landline
Entrepreneurs need to get out of their basements, garages and offices to attend networking events. They need to meet clients face-to-face if they want to be genuinely productive and profitable.
Although a desk phone is an excellent way to make and take calls when you’re in the office, entrepreneurs can benefit by untethering and moving into the cloud using Voice-over IP (VoIP) and cloud telephone services. Moving your communications to the cloud can improve accessibility and responsiveness through increased mobility. Sophisticated business communications might, for example, also include auto attendants and receptionist consoles, and be able to convert voicemails to email.
For entrepreneurs just starting out, a business communications solution entirely dispensing with a landline might make the most financial and networking sense—but each business owner has to adopt the communication setup that best suits their business.
3. Do what you love and delegate the rest
If you don’t love preparing tax returns, writing business plans or attending networking events, you may consider paying a contractor or employee to do them for you.
There are great freelancers and contract help to be found in co-working spaces across Canada; co-working spaces can also offer opportunities to find new clients and new business partners.
When you do what you love and are good at, and outsource or delegate everything else, you will be more efficient and productive—not to mention happier.
If you don't have the resources to automate specific business tasks, automating workflows with apps like IFTTT can help you set rules and triggers to lighten your load. Scheduling tools like HeyOrca!, HootSuite or CoSchedule can help you get work done within your timelines and push out content when your audience is looking for inspiration.
4. Find a mentor
When you hit a dead end on a project or aren’t sure which path to take solving a business challenge, a mentor can help you see your way forward. A mentor could be a successful entrepreneur in your industry or a professional business advisor from a college or accelerator centre. By helping you move past obstacles, a mentor can be a great resource for improving and maintaining your efficiency.
There are mentorship programs across Canada, including Futurpreneur, Mentorship BC, Creative Destruction Lab and Le Camp. You can also contact Startup Canada to be connected to your local Startup Community or learn about mentorship resources available near you.
5. Track trends with analytics
You’ve likely heard of big data, but may be unaware of its importance for early-stage businesses. Analytics for social media, for instance, can help your company understand public sentiment, helping you target your next marketing campaign.
Chatbots on your website can handle customer service conversations. Canada’s AI ecosystem includes companies providing solutions to make your business more productive and profitable; check out startups integrate.ai and WinterLight Labs, for example.
Entrepreneurs who finish their ‘froggiest’ task first; work anywhere, anytime; focus on what they do best and delegate the rest; build out their ‘call a friend’ network; and use technologies to streamline processes and operations, can take on more, focus on what matters most—and grow their businesses faster.