Top 10 Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Time is money. No phrase proves this statement better than when you own a growing business.

As you strive to achieve your business aspirations, juggling responsibilities and managing activities end-to-end sums up a typical work day. You simply cannot afford to compromise on any of the processes at hand, because it might have a profound impact on the growth of your venture. The trick is to focus your productivity on the limited resources you have in a time-efficient manner till you can confidently handover the heavy lifting to experts. Successful businessmen will tell you the same, but in two words: time management.

Here are our favorite tried-and-tested time management tips for small business owners to save you time and make running your business easier.

1. Fix a Schedule and Stick to it

The best way to accomplish a productive day is to show up at work with a clearly defined set of goals and tasks, preferably hand-written. A disorganized schedule leads to ineptness and wasted hours, eventually leading to a loss of focus on business objectives. Account for every hour of the day, from the time needed for meetings and document review to travel and shopping. Create your schedule with three categories- one for the responsibilities that need to be completed that day, another for those activities that require your attention but can be put on hold and a third with minor tasks that you can work on if you have extra time. Know your downtime- you can use this for short breaks.

2. Focus on ONE Task at a Time

Multitasking might seem like a clever way to do many things within a short amount of time, but it divides your attention among the responsibilities at hand. Being a budding enterprise, this is not a risk that you want to take now. Instead, you can try the ‘Pomodoro technique’. This involves setting your timer for a specified time and focusing wholly on one task before the timer goes off. Repeat this after taking short breaks of 5 minutes between tasks. An efficient way to structure your time, this technique ensures that you devote time for a specific activity regularly.

3. Delegate Work

All small businesses are a one-man army early into their business operations. But your growth journey to becoming a larger enterprise begins when you start delegating responsibilities to expert personnel. Hire people who are dependable to manage tasks you don’t have time for or you are not suitably skilled for. This will give you more time to work on things that you are best at and need your personal attention. Keeping in mind that most growing enterprises might not be sufficiently funded to hire the right people, Capital Float offers Unsecured Business Loans to support the recruitment needs of these businesses.

4. Avoid Distractions

Any means of distraction is harmful for the growth of your business, as the work you do is very different compared to those of your employees. If you think your team members are wasting time on social media, set up a URL blocker on your system. You can forward calls, set up caps on answering emails or designate others to perform repeated tasks, if these are causing you to deviate from your daily schedule.

As you get busier, more people demand your time. Reducing distractions implies training the people around you to respect your time. Your employees tend to consume your time with constant problems or through attempts to garner your attention. Take steps to identify the major time-wasters and keep them at bay.

5. Prioritize difficult tasks

An effective time management hack is to start your work hours with the most challenging task at hand. Despite varying individual notions of productivity, mornings are accepted as the time of the day when you are at your optimum performance levels. This leaves the rest of the day to handle repercussions or developments, and you can work on other priorities with a relaxed frame of mind.

6. Watch out for ‘Shiny Objects’

Many a small business that has just entered the economic space face the ‘shiny object syndrome’ early into their growth phase. Shiny objects, or seemingly bright opportunities, keeping popping up from time to time and they tend to distract you from your business objectives. You can eliminate such time-wasters by asking for agendas before attending any business proposition and comparing new prospects with the value of opportunities at hand.

7. Organize your Work Space

There is no bigger demotivating factor than coming to a cluttered workspace every morning. Not only does it create an unorganized mental space, but according to recent surveys, makes you stay at office longer. Documents categorized into inbound and outbound piles, color-coded filing cabinets, scanning forms onto Outlook, and similar techniques will save you the trouble of rifling through scores of paperwork to find information.

8. Evaluate and Improvise Consistently

The worst thing to do to your business is to continue implementing processes that do not benefit your cause. Most small business owners might be busy with specific projects to spend time analyzing their business models. This is where a quarterly evaluation becomes the most significant of time management tips and strategies. A quarter, or three months, is relevantly sufficient amount of time required to determine the effectiveness of a strategy or a business relationship. Carrying out evaluations at the end of every quarter gives ambitious entrepreneurs better process insights and a chance to move in the right direction.

9. Measure Big Successes & Failures

One of the critical time management skills that a small business owner must possess is goal setting. Define scalable weekly business goals with an emphasis on a particular aspect of your business that you want to focus on, and evaluate the big wins and losses at the end of the week. What makes this strategy so productive is that here, failures are treated as important as successes, as early analysis saves the time that your team might have continued working on them.

10. Leverage Technology

Most small business owners spend more time running a business than growing it. Tasks like staff rotas, invoicing, payroll and tax consume more than 30 hours of productive time every month. With the infinite number of apps and services available online, technology can be used to fill the gap in your current business processes. Automating repetitive tasks such as these will help you save a lot of time to focus on activities that directly impact the growth of your business.

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Three Ways to Improve Your Business Credit Score

Small business owners often have to go an extra mile to ensure the consistent growth and success of their ventures. They must work hard in dealing with their customers and suppliers. They also need to come up with innovative ways to market their products and services. In their efforts to polish the customer-facing, technical and marketing aspects, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often overlook the attention that their creditworthiness requires, which is vital to their chances of getting business loans.

If all goes well for the business and it is able to get a constant stream of customers, its position in the industry will be strengthened. This, in turn, opens doors for business finance from banks, conventional non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and the new age NBFCs in the form of FinTech lenders. However, a few clever methods help in improving the prospects for business funding.

If you are an entrepreneur with a promising business idea that is backed by adequate possibilities for success, you must take it forward. To improve your chances of getting a loan for business expansion, here are the three points that you can pay heed to:

1- Make timely payments on your bills and clear outstanding credit 

Financial discipline is the key to success when you are managing a commercially motivated organisation. In business, you may have to make regular payments to your suppliers and vendors. These ought to be made on time.

With frequent delays on the payment of your outstanding invoices, you may hurt your prospects for being qualified for business loans. A late payment on bills can damage your financial records, particularly if it gets reported to business credit scores rating agencies such as CIBIL.

If you had missed a couple of payments, but later managed to catch up with the regular cycle, the delayed payments may have had some adverse impact on your credit ratings. However, the damage is not permanent. As credit scores are a reflection of activities over a period, it can take some time for the new data to set in and replace the older information. The credit score will gradually improve to reflect your eligibility for business finance.

The focus should be on making payments on bills before they are due. This is not only a good habit that will help your business get higher credit ratings, but will also improve your relationships with the suppliers and vendors. If you have severe financial constraints, you can use strategies such as invoice financing. (Link to relevant product page can be placed here)

In addition to the bills raised by entities dealing with your company, payments on credit cards and existing loans should also be made on time. Most importantly, keep all the receipts against payment safely in your records.

2- Use credit prudently

The FinTech revolution has given access to fast business loans and has made it convenient for SMEs to expand their presence in the market. If you can demonstrate the ability to use your loan for business wisely, it will only improve your business credit rating and will help you borrow bigger amounts in future.

Funds must be used for the purpose that was stated to procure them. If you have taken a loan for business activities – such as paying a vendor, buying raw material or inventory, refurbishing a storefront – it must be used accordingly. Do not use business finance for personal expenses. The mixing of personal funds with those for business can happen unknowingly at times, especially for start-ups and sole proprietorships, but the two should be separated as soon as possible. This helps in improving the credit history records considerably.

Another point to understand here is – if your business has credit accounts in good standing, but you barely use them, do not be tempted to close such accounts. They may come to the rescue of your business plans in future. What is more, the closure of any account trims down the total amount of credit that may be available for your company, and conversely, increases the ratio of credit utilisation stats – this change of numbers will negatively impact the credit score.

When the debt load is haphazardly scattered in multiple accounts, you should work on reordering it so that there are smaller balances on different accounts. Once you are able to make regular payments on them, it will gain you credit for paying off more than one outstanding balance.

3- Avoid taking hasty or risky decisions 

When you are managing a business and dealing with people from different fields every day, you will have your own experiences and learn to do things differently. Keep a vigil on the financial situation of your organisation even if you have hired accountants to manage your finances. Decide upon the figures that you aim to achieve and know what it will imply for the health, bottom line and future prospects of your business. This helps to maintain focus and financial discipline.

Avoid the risks that can affect your business credit scores. Some activities such as dealing with other companies of dubious nature not only harm your brand image, but also deter your business finance providers. Keep away from inherently risky operations that can cause financial stress in future.

Lastly, if you spot any mistake in your credit history records, do not hesitate to get it amended or inform your prospective lender. If you had paid off a bill in time but it was shown to be outstanding by the concerned entity, divulge the receipts to make corrections and prove your point. As a FinTech company offering quick loans to small and medium enterprises, Capital Float is on a mission to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in India. Our process of evaluating the creditworthiness of a business is concise, lucid and clear-cut. It enables a high number of businesses to get timely funds. Capital Float also guides start-ups and growing companies in improving their prospects for bigger loans in future. Visit our website to find the best product that suits your business need.

Oct 24, 2018

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The most successful ones go over the top

Must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness.

Oct 24, 2018

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Getting design and development team on the same page!

What makes or breaks a product team?

Strong design principles are one. A clear, effective roadmap is another. But one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of all great product teams, are the relationships between the designers and engineers on your team.

“Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled.”

Yet many designers compartmentalise building a product into two distinct parts — design and development. This distinction is one of the most dangerous traps a product team can fall into. When the design is seen as a satellite that orbits engineering, it usually comes crashing back to earth.

The problem is we separate design from implementation. In product design, both these things are inextricably linked. A world with terms such as “design freeze” or “handoff” just won’t cut it.

Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled. So it’s essential designers understand the possibilities and restraints of the technology they’re working with before they can properly delve into the design.

Design together

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re designing a native mobile app. Here are some technical questions you might receive from an engineer that can heavily influence your design decisions:

  • Which framework are we going to use for that home screen chart? If we don’t know the suitable one, we should ask the developer for a suggestion and follow the UI of that framework.
  • How long does it take the API to fetch the data for that list-view? If it’s too long, you’re going to need to do more than place a spinner.
  • The API takes a little too long to load user’s loans. What do we display in the meantime?

Questions such as the above should be asked and addressed as early as possible by discussing with engineers. Involve them in the design process, at the end of the day, it’s the developer that actually builds the website or app.

Even though you’re the designer, the developer knows best when it comes to certain other aspects of the user experience (perceived performance, page loading times, miscellaneous features that will crash the browser).

Turning design into reality

Being a great designer requires you to be empathetic, not only to users or clients but also to your engineers. Let’s not forget that all of us are working for the same goal of building a kickass product!

So here are key pointers to turn your design into pixel perfect reality:

1. (Atomic) Design System:

Design System is a list of all the elements you are using in a project. It helps you maintain consistency in the design. Want to know how we built our design system? Take look at this article:

getting-design-and-development-team-on-the-same-page


2. Mockups:

We all have been generating & sharing UI mocks comfortably for many years now. But there are few things which will help us avoid confusion.

Artboard sizes:

Nowadays we have a wide range of devices. Not just web but our mobile platforms also has varying screen sizes! It’s important to decide how will our product look on all those screens? Define the breakpoints and keep in mind the media queries that developers are going to use. Talk with your developer if you don’t know what it is.

Breakpoints and responsive layouts:

Upload an artwork to Zeplin or Google Gallery or InVision with the responsive design (according to the breakpoints that you’ve already set), in other words, share how your design looks in different screen resolutions and devices.

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You think it‘s clear that the design will be horizontally centred at higher resolutions, such as 1920 x 1080 pixels, but developers are not mind-readers.

Tools for designers:

We have developed a Sketch plugin which allows you to quickly generate guides for a selected element and helps you achieve web development’s famous grid (column) behaviour in Sketch. The plugin was featured on SketchApp website and newsletter.

Tools for designers

File names and versioning:

The name of the screen should simply describe its function. If you’re not yet using a version control solution for your designs, you probably should.

Make sure to use consistent casing when naming your screens, whether it’s ‘camelCasing’ or ‘Sentence casing’ or ‘lower casing’ etc.

File names and versioning

We also add 3 number to give the sequence to mockups.

3. Interactions:

Make a flow:  Putting the mockups together is only half the work done. You’d need to stitch the screens together based on the flow using Hotspots (or just make an Interactive Prototype). It helps the product manager understand how the user journey is panning out and helps the developer plan her/his approach to code.

Figure out the fidelity: Not every screen has to be fleshed out with high fidelity prototypes. Few screens could simply be static with explanatory comments, few could get away with platform-specific standard interaction patterns and few might require those custom prototypes. There’s no blanket rule for all the screens, so discuss with your developer & plan accordingly.

Suggested Tools: Overflow, Marvel, InVision, Google Gallery, Principle or craft it directly in code!

4. Specs and assets:

Today with products like Zeplin, Google Gallery, Marvel Handoff or InVision’s Inspect sharing style guides and specifications has never been easy.

Assets and resources:

Exporting assets for the different platform is easy but your developer is gonna love you if you are giving them optimised assets! Use optimisation tools like Kraken, ImageOptim, Optimage or TinyPNG.

Even better if you use SVG.

When you use SVG for your icons or illustrations, you don’t need to worry about devices with different pixel densities. Another advantage is that SVG graphics use up less space, and can be compressed effectively by gzip on the server side.

Think twice before you send an asset larger than 1MB to a developer! Don’t be lazy and send the job off to a developer; you are responsible for the visual quality of the project. Check out this image optimisation guide by Google.

Assets also include custom fonts and copy for your vernacular Apps.

Final Checklist:

1. Don’t be too visionary.The ideas must work.

2. Work with real data in mind and think about a “scalable design”. If there is a long text, what happens? how does it work in other languages? and if in the future will be adding more items to the menu, what happens?

3. Empty states: if you don’t know what they are, find out!

4. Explain the reason for your choices about the layout, colors and interactions.

5. If you speak the language of developers, you can get respect. If you have a good knowledge of programming languages (HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, JavaScript, C #, Objective-C or Swift) you can be one of them and they listen to you with pleasure.

6. Never forget the user.

Conclusion

Although you shouldn’t need another reason to be considerate of your fellow teammates (especially developers, who traditionally, designers find it hard to see eye-to-eye with), using these tips will help you, as a designer, just as much as they help everybody else. Cutting corners to save time only creates speed bumps further down the road, so add a little care and some foresight with your design choices.

Tap the ? button if you care about your developer (and/or you found this article useful).

Have any tips of your own? Let us know ?

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

Oct 24, 2018