Streamlining Tips For Small Business Owners

By Yolander Prinzel | August 01, 2011 AAA
Streamlining Tips For Small Business Owners

Small business owners are often like one-man bands. The owners, not wanting to spend money on employees or other contractors, attempt to handle every aspect of the business on their own, forcing them to stretch the limits of their talent, time and mental health to get everything done, and done well. While this can save money, it does still have a cost that could result in an expense; because doing everything yourself means you have less time to complete the marketing and other core duties that actually bring in money for your business. (For more help with your small business, check out Keeping A Small Business Afloat.)

TUTORIAL: Starting A Small Business

If you are still on the fence about outsourcing some of your tasks, then you need to think about at least streamlining your processes so you can put more time in where it makes you the most money.

Create Templates
A number of forms that you utilize day after day don't need to be recreated every time you work with them. Instead, you can create templates that allow you to simply fill in missing information without recreating the wheel. Some examples include templates for proposals that you send to clients, certain accounting forms and correspondence. You can also create email templates that allow you to quickly respond to common customer questions.

Online Quote Request Forms
When clients email you for proposal or quote requests, you need to follow up with an email and a list of questions to develop the quote. You can save yourself a step if you simply create a form for your website that your clients must complete to get their quote. Make sure your online quote form has enough information on it for you to develop a realistic quote based on the answers, but isn't so detailed that it dissuades potential clients from using it.

Invest in Software
From customer relationship management (CRM) systems to accounting programs, there are a great number of programs that you can buy that will help make your business management tasks easier. For example, CRM systems can help you organize your contacts and set up schedules to get in touch with them, which lessens the amount of time you need to spend building to-do lists and locating client data. Accounting programs can work with your bank accounts to download your transactions so you don't need to enter them in line by line. Some even have tax software that can help further. The type of software you will need varies depending on the type of business you have.

Group Tasks
There are certain tasks, similar in nature, that you must complete every day. Examples are social networking on various networks, reading and responding to emails, or building proposals for multiple clients. Instead of breaking these tasks up and completing them all at different times of the day, group them so that you are focusing on like tasks all at once. For example, if you need to develop three client proposals in one day, don't create one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at the end of the day. Do all three consecutively.

Use Auto-responders
Your email system can be set up to reply to incoming messages with an auto response. If you have separate emails for client complaints, inquiries and other issues, you can create auto-response emails. These can help clients find answers they are looking for, or at least tell them that they will get a response within a certain time frame, so you don't feel you need to drop everything each time an email hits your inbox.

The Bottom Line
If you want to be in control of your business with as little outside help as possible, it may be necessary to streamline your daily tasks so that you can effectively manage them while still completing those core tasks that create your actual product or service. By combining common sense tactics with the advantages given to business owners by technology, you may be able to successfully manage your entire business without needing to bring on employees. (To make your small business into a success, read How To Make $1 Million In Your Small Business.)

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