How to transform the difficult and mundane tasks in your day
Business Owner, Operations Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Payroll and HR, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales…small business owners are the notorious jack-of-all-trades.
Most of us start a business because there is one thing, be it a product, service or vision, we truly believe in.
And in an ideal world we would be able to focus on that one thing and on doing just what we love to do the most.
In reality though, we often end up being distracted by everyday tasks that, while necessary, take us further away from our goals as business owners.
It’s time we got our time back. It’s time we started focusing on our goals. It’s time we got productive.
To get you started, here are our five tips for supercharging your productivity and transforming the difficult and mundane tasks in your business.
We’ll start by zeroing in on the business areas that typically cause the most angst, and how some amazing apps can help.
Bookkeeping, Accounting and Payroll
For the first few years I was running my business I persisted with tracking all of my income and expenses, as well as my invoices, in a clunky spreadsheet.
It was painfully laborious and come tax time each year I was tearing my hair out.
Then an accountant suggested I use accounting or bookkeeping software, preferably cloud-based.
I tried out a few different products and eventually settled on QuickBooks. I haven’t looked back since.
Instead of my invoicing and monthly accounts taking hours each month, it started to take just half and hour. And in that time I was also able to reconcile all incoming and outgoing transactions in a cinch, using QuickBooks real time bank feed function.
So what does it do?
QuickBooks accounting handles billing and invoicing all from the one dashboard.
From experience I can tell you it’s user friendly and has a lot of powerful tools including time tracking, reporting, inventory, contacts, sales, tax and accounts payable.
What I particularly like is its integration with payroll and superstream software. So I’m able to manage payruns, leave balances and superannuation payments all from within Quickbooks.
QuickBooks also offers both phone and chat support. Being cloud-based you can easily give access to your bookkeeper or accountant to assist with managing your accounts.
The basic app for sole traders starts at around $10/month and small businesses can access loads of features starting at around $16/month. There’s a package to suit every type and size of small business.
As a Certified Practising Marketer I work with small businesses everyday and understand the main pain points when it comes to marketing.
Besides lack of time, expertise and resources, business owners often feel overwhelmed by what tools to use to make their marketing more efficient and effective.
Here are my favourite marketing related apps (all of which have free options).
All of the above apps enable you to schedule your social media posts across multiple social media accounts all from the one dashboard.
The functions on the free versions are very similar, and it often comes down to personal preference.
However if you upgrade to paid versions of these then you can access a range of awesome functions, such as being able to schedule repeating posts and campaigns (available in MavSocial).
Canva for design
Canva is graphic design software that is super easy to use for small design jobs, when you’re unable to engage a professional designer.
Canva is loaded with professionally-designed templates, images and fonts for creating social media posts, flyers, posters, resumes and much more.
You can tweak templates to suit your needs, upload your own images and even create a custom sized design, before downloading it as an image or pdf file.
MailChimp for email marketing
MailChimp is an email marketing platform used to create and send e-newsletters or bulk emails.
In MailChimp you can build and manage lists of email recipients, and subscribers.
You can create specific campaigns using MailChimp’s simple templates and track open and delivery rates.
On the free version you can also set up workflows for automated email series triggered by a range of events.
Pexels fo free images
Pexels is an image library licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
This means you can use its images for free for any personal and commercial purpose (you should always double check the full license agreement and exact useage rights though before proceeding to use their images).
While not required, it’s also good karma to acknowledge the source of the image and the photographer.
In a world where the average person has multiple connected devices (3.64 devices as of 2016) it’s not uncommon to misplace an important file or document.
We’ve all been there.
Just today I was trying to track down some articles I wrote a couple of years ago, and had to search three different devices, a USB and a dozen or so folders on my desktop.
Fortunately for me I got my act together when it came to my most recent work and now use cloud-based apps to save and share files.
Evernote is one of my favourites for organising information and keeping ideas all in the one place.
You can use it as a daily diary, for note-taking, to-do lists and much more.
Using the above apps is an efficient way to share files without emailing them and ensures you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection.
On the most part I work on an hourly rate and like to hold myself accountable for the time I bill to clients.
I also like to know exactly how long certain tasks take and have a record of activities I can easily refer to when it comes to invoicing at the end of the month.
The solution I use is toggl. Using the desktop or mobile app I can easily put on a timer when I start an activity and log it to a specific client. I can also log time manually.
When I get to the end of the month I run a report for each client and export the activity detail, which I can then transfer to my invoices.
As a result I always have an accurate picture of what I did when, and how much it cost.
So what about time wasting activities such as net surfing?
RescueTime is an app that monitors your online activity, recording how much time you spend on specific programs and websites.
At the end of the day you can assess how well you used your time and what you can improve on.
RescueTime breaks up your day’s activities into different categories and displays them on a graph. The premium version lets you block websites and give you alerts you when you have spent too much time on a certain activity.
So here’s the thing. While all of the above apps can really save you time and energy, sometimes the best approach is for you not to do the task at all.
This brings me to my final point…
Delegate, outsource, collaborate
If there’s a task you’re not great at, or hate doing, ideally you should get rid of it.
However if the task still needs to be done, it doesn’t mean you, the business owner, has to do it.
You should in this case delegate or outsource it to someone who is great at that task.
Or perhaps you may wish to collaborate with an expert to make you more effective in your work, and ensure you’re on track.
All of the above business functions can be outsourced or can benefit from collaboration with an expert – which by the way is super easy to do with cloud based apps.
Whether you delegate to team members, collaborate with your accountant, hire a virtual assistant, or engage a marketing expert, you can get the most mundane or difficult tasks done for you.
Imagine how productive you could be if you outsourced your social media, your book keeping, or the writing of your blog articles?
If you’re interested in more productivity tips read our article on 5 Keys to Being More Productive.