How to Spend Less Time Running Your Growing Business

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 19:00
 How to Spend Less Time Running Your Growing Business

It takes time and a lot of effort to create a brand that your customers truly appreciate. If things go as planned, the word spreads and your business grows.

Growing your business is undoubtedly very high among your current goals. But once achieved, successful businesses present a common problem for their owners: an overflowing to-do list.

Running a busy business means that owners become, well, busier.

Even though growth was exactly your goal, as your business expands it requires more time and attention, and perhaps even seems to be unmanageable.

Growth demands different skills and priorities from you as the nature of your business slowly alters. At a certain point, you can no longer do everything yourself; there’s simply too much to do.

Here are some ways to deal with growth and stop your business from overwhelming you.

The importance of planning

You can’t run your business reactively otherwise you are responding to others’ goals and not your own. Instead, you need to be very careful in setting your objectives in different timeframes: short term, medium term, and long term.

It’s also important to then consider your key performance indicators. You need to know exactly what you’re working towards and how you measure progress. What does success look like for your business and for you personally?

This means you can be deliberate in setting your priorities. The path of least resistance - simply doing what’s in front of you - is rarely the best path for you or your business. If you start getting too busy, rather than work harder you should probably look at your daily workflow. Are you truly focused on your goals or are you suffering from mission creep?

Start each day by identifying your most important tasks. Make sure you prioritise these so that you can relax at the end of the day rather than play catch-up, finishing the critical tasks that were allowed to slip away.

Automating repetitive tasks

Once you’re clear on what needs to be done, think about how you spend your working day. Are there repetitive tasks that can be fully automated or scheduled ahead of time?

In marketing, your social media posts can be scheduled meaning that you can sit down and ‘batch’ them in advance. Doing one thing at a time - and doing it well - is a crucial habit, because multitasking is a myth.

Your back office functions, for example, can be automated by making the best use of your POS system. Timesheets, end of day sales reports, and stock inventory can all be dealt with digitally, in one go. Less time preparing and analysing these key management documents means more attention on your other priorities.

Likewise, software integration services IFTTT and Zapier can automate numerous generic tasks. After the initial set up, they allow your online tools to interact with each other on your own terms and for your own purposes. Automating those little tasks can add up to substantial time savings.

Adopting digital tools intelligently can save you considerable time, but, on the other hand, don’t overdo it. Always keep in mind your business KPIs and work towards them rather than automating unimportant tasks just for the sake of it.

 

Building a team through outsourcing

As your business grows you must learn how to delegate tasks either internally or externally. Business owners can’t do it all and if you try your business will soon suffer.

Recognising that you need help is often the most difficult step in the outsourcing process. Owners are perfectionists and understandably want only the best for their business. But it’s quite easy to outsource many tasks to expert freelancers by tapping into global talent through web-based job boards, for example:

It’s worth spending time browsing these websites to get a sense of the tasks that you can easily and inexpensively outsource.

To start, create small projects that can help build trust between you and service providers. Without too much effort you’ll find that you can create an effective team that will reduce your work burden and add skilled freelancers to your organisation.

If you embrace the flexible nature of outsourcing, you can draw on the expertise of professionals while focusing your own attention on the areas of your business that matter most to you.

Delegating

A critical issue when running a growing business is delegation. Robin Knox, intelligentpos co-founder, recommends that you “enlist the help of your employees to take turns spinning the plates. Before you know it, you will be spinning more plates simultaneously than a single person could possibly dream of.”

On the other hand, when running a business, it’s easy to over-delegate. Only assign responsibilities when people are ready for them and have proven that they can do the job to your exacting standards. Even then, you’ll need to periodically check in to make sure that standards don’t slip. This is where the implementation of clear KPIs can help; these are a detached way to evaluate overall performance within your team and can also be used to identify any cause for concern.

Conclusion: managing change in a growing business

A growing business should be a delightful situation for you, the owner. After all, it’s your vision and effort that have led you to this point. But growth also means that you need to be more deliberate and more discerning in how you run your business. What got you started won’t necessarily keep you going.

  • Set goals so that you know what you should be doing at any given time. Examine these goals often, and focus your efforts on reaching them. This practice of flexible planning is key to getting things done.
  • Automation software is an easy way to complete repetitive tasks and streamline your responsibilities. Be deliberate with your automation strategy and don’t simply digitise your tasks, make sure they actually reduce your workload.
  • Also, consider outsourcing. You can quickly and easily build yourself a team of experts who can help you with your most time-consuming or least favourite tasks.

Feeling busy and overwhelmed at times is natural, but if the feeling lingers you probably need to change how you manage your business. Ultimately, you must run your business intelligently to avoid reaching a level of paralysis.

You really don’t want your business to run away from you, so regularly set aside time to work on your business as well as in it by using goal setting and assistive technology to make your life easier while maintaining growth.

Nick Blackbourn