Everyone has habits they want to overcome, and in business there are ways of doing things that just never seem to change. Old business habits die hard, and sometimes you find yourself going back to manual processes that you are just accustomed to.
As a small business owner, it can be very comforting to feel you are in direct control of every aspect of your business. Your business is your baby and you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are, so replying to every email, checking every account and manually filing records is essential to ensure nothing slips through the net, right?
Unfortunately not. This approach is just not sustainable. If you want your venture to grow, you can’t spend every day buried in your email inbox, manually sending tweets or updating your finance schedule. To have a successful business you don’t have to be working 18-hour days, cancelling social plans and feeling constantly exhausted.
Everyone is entitled to a life outside work, and I truly believe it makes you a better businessperson if you have a healthy work-life balance. While it may make you nervous, there are many useful systems out there that can manage all these aspects for you, leaving no room for error, and meaning you can spend your time on what you should be doing – growing the business.
There are some simple ways for streamlining processes in your business that I swear by, which means I can work a four-day week and even take computer-free holidays while my business continues to prosper.
Do you lose entire working days sending and replying to emails? There are automation tools that can manage your email marketing consistently and professionally while allowing you to maintain the personality and tone of voice you have cultivated for your brand. My favourites include GetResponse, Infusionsoft and MailChimp, depending on your budget and the level of marketing you’d like to outsource.
I regularly come across entrepreneurs who are still manually typing their accounts into a basic spreadsheet, fishing receipts out from the bottom of their handbag and always leaving this side of the business to the last minute. Online software such as QuickBooks Online allows you to capture receipts on the go and create invoices easily – all via your smartphone or mobile device.
Social media scheduling
Social media should be fun and personal! It allows you to connect with existing and new markets in a visual, compelling way. But as entrepreneurs, we must be careful to not lose ourselves in constantly replying to Facebook messages, posting tweets or Instagramming your every move. Social scheduling tools such as Sprout Social and Hootsuite are there to help. I create a social schedule every three months, and once it is locked in and rolled out I don’t have to think about it – I call it my ‘set-and-forget social’!
Hiring staff is expensive and a big commitment for many Australian entrepreneurs or small business owners. But your time is also precious. I expect you have a list as long as your arm about parts of the business you want to grow and nurture, or new markets you want to pursue. Technology is like a new member of staff who you’ve hired to shake things up, get you to look at things differently and make your life much easier. It may feel like a leap into the unknown, but I urge you to embrace automation sooner rather than later – your business will thank you for it.
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