If you’re like me in my small business, you’ve got a long list of things you’ve got to do today, this week, this month. You’re overwhelmed. Well, I’m going to help you find more time and become more productive. How? By sharing the seven things you should stop doing in your small business now.
When you cut out these seven wasteful activities, not only will you accomplish more every day and every week, but you’ll improve your cash flow, empower your employees, and keep much better records. And I bet you’ll be personally more satisfied most days at work as you reduce paperwork and have more time to focus on the core of your business.
OK, let’s stop doing these seven things in your small business immediately:
1) Your own payroll by hand. Or with a bookkeeper. Get an online payroll service for goodness sakes. It’s much faster, cheaper, easier, better. In my business, we switched to Intuit Online Payroll eight years ago, and this cloud-based payroll service has saved me an immense amount of money and time. With a click of a button, I make payroll tax payments or create in-depth reports. Last month, when I had to provide a census of every employee’s hours for the entire year to our 401K administrator, it took less than five minutes to prepare. Other online payroll services include Gusto.com (formerly ZenPayroll), Sure Payroll, and OnPay.
2) Paying bills by check. Paying anything with an old-fashioned printed check costs you a lot of money. And it increases the likelihood that you’ll miss payment deadlines. Instead, set up everything you can on autopay, either from your bank account or on a credit card. If you have lots of bills, try out Bill.com to handle your Accounts Payable.
3) Mixing personal and business expenses. You just finished your taxes, right? I’m betting one time-consuming task was separating personal expenses from business expenses. This should be easy: use separate credit cards for business and personal expenses and maintain separate bank accounts. And here’s an even bigger time-saver: use an app to take pictures of your receipts and classify them as you get them. That way you’ll have all your receipts digitized and organized when it comes time to prepare your taxes. A few receipt apps to check out: Expensify, Shoeboxed, XpenseTracker.
4) Using social media as a distraction. Sure, you need to post to your company’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Shocase, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr accounts. Phew. But inevitably, you’re going to also be checking out the latest posts from your best friend’s vacation and fuming over whatever your brother-in-law just posted about the Presidential election. During the work day, set aside a set amount of time – let’s say 30 minutes – to manage your company’s social media presence and otherwise, keep it off.
5) Checking email all day long. This is my personal big time-eater. Any email (or text message) can seem important, and it feels like you’re doing work when you’re going through your email back log. But virtually every message can wait an hour or more. Turn off email when you need to accomplish a task. In fact, keep it off except to check it a few times a day or once an hour to lessen distractions.
6) Micro-managing your employees. When I was a consultant, I saw many business owners who wasted their time and frustrated their employees by hovering over them while they did their jobs. If you have good employees, the way to make them great employees is to spend your time on training and meetings, not constantly checking their work, looking over their computers, or correcting every inconsequential mistake. It not only eats up a lot of your time, it makes employees less likely to develop the skills and smarts you need from them.
7) Working 24/7, 12 months a year. Virtually every small business owner says the same thing, “I’m always on, always working.” And the truth is that when you own a business, you can never completely disengage. But you don’t need to do everything yourself, every day, every week. Remember, you are the most important resource your business has. So take care of yourself. Give yourself a break. Take time to think and to re-create yourself. Plan a vacation.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2016
This article originally ran in USA Today on April 8, 2016