We all know that keeping a small business running at full steam is something of a miracle. It’s an art, keeping as many plates spinning at one time as you possibly can.
It can be easy to fixate on all of the little things you need to accomplish each day and forget to look at the bigger picture. However, ask yourself: Are you really spending your time growing your business, or just keeping that business (and yourself) afloat?
The good news is that there are many tools to help you lighten the load. If your small business has started to feel like it’s about the job of keeping it running, here’s what you can do about it.
1. You Lead Every Department
Although there are some similarities between creating a job for yourself and running a small business, there is also at least one very big difference. If you’ve created a job for yourself, everything (sales, income, marketing, the business itself, all stop, when you stop, or cannot work).
You lead sales, marketing, HR, accounting, etc. and you are essential to each department running smoothly and completing the necessary daily tasks. If a decision needs to be made, you need to be part of it.
By contrast, when you’ve created a business, the company scales and skilled employees have been placed in key positions, and regardless if you are there or not, the business continues to operate and grow.
2. You Spend Most of Your Time Consolidating Communications
We’ve all had the experience of combing through our inboxes to double check we’ve scheduled something that everyone can attend. Maybe you’re trying to have a meeting or planning for an event. You know that you have everyone’s info, but it’s spread across multiple email chains, and you just can’t find that availability.
Scheduling is a perennial challenge. But it could also be budgeting, travel, or some other logistical headache that’s making running your small business a challenge.
Getting organized about your communications is tricky because the way we use email has changed. It’s easier than ever to fire off a quick response from your mobile device, and threading has paradoxically made messages both neater and less organized. You never know what’ll be in that message chain with the subject line “A few things for next week.”
Instead, consider using tools that can help you separate useful information via a different channel than email. Tools like Doodle or When2Meet simplify the process of scheduling by putting everything in one place. You don’t need to spend time hunting down one person’s conflicts—they’re all in one place.
Google Forms can help with other logistical challenges. If you’re dealing with a bigger problem like expenses, consider rethinking how your CRM might handle it.
3. You Track Your To-Dos With Sticky Notes
When things get hectic, it’s comforting to rely on what’s tried and true. You’re keeping a lot of balls in the air at once, and it’s easy to fall in the habit of committing tasks to sticky notes so you have a physical reminder of what you still need to accomplish.
It’s an easy system, right? You just keep the note up until you do the thing, and then you get rid of it. The problem is that, as a medium, sticky notes aren’t easy to share, and therefore aren’t easy to delegate.
If you’re spending most of your time worrying that every little task gets done, soothe your type-A tendencies with a project management platform like Basecamp or Asana. These apps let you organize your to-dos into projects and assign individual members of your team a task with specific deadlines.
Even an Alexa app like Remember The Milk can help you organize your business tasks into lists, and then delegate those tasks to the people on your team who can get them done.
4. You’re the Person That Gets Called When Something Breaks
While it’s important for you to know if a problem or bug threatens your business, you shouldn’t be the first person on speed dial if there’s an issue with your technology. YouTube has made it easier than ever for people to DIY their IT and resolve their issues for free. But when that person is you, time spent debugging something is time you’re not spending on other, arguably more important areas of your business.
Managed IT services are a great solution to this problem. A managed services provider can offer round-the-clock monitoring of your system’s security, help desk support, new equipment setup, backups, and more for less than a full-time IT tech’s salary.
Remember, it’s not just the time that you’re spending fixing the issue. It’s also the time that your employees spend finding out that something has gone wrong in the first place, trying to fix it themselves, and then contacting you.
Small businesses are targeted increasingly by hackers and data thieves. They’re the easy score that provides an attacker valuable information for much less effort than it would take to hack a larger, more well-resourced target. Payroll, financials, credit card information, or even just login credentials can be extremely valuable to these thieves.
Using managed IT services means you’ve hired a team of dedicated professionals, providing services that used to be exclusively the domain of large companies with massive IT departments. With 24/7 monitoring, you know that someone’s got your back, and that they’re ready to respond to any threat on your behalf.
What You Can Do Right Now
Your business can’t grow without somebody keeping the lights on and the doors open. At the same time, it’s important to realize that you can’t spend all of your time managing your business operations rather than doing the work that made you successful in the first place. From organizing information to dealing with IT, make sure you’re taking advantage of tools that help you get things done more efficiently, so your business isn’t just another job.
- Offload important information from email to other channels and tools.
- Turn sticky notes into shareable tasks you can delegate quickly and easily to your team.
- Consider managed IT services to lighten the load and keep things running smoothly.
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