Running a business requires wearing many hats, so it’s easy to lose focus or get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s so important to keep your priorities straight and eliminate extraneous tasks that don’t contribute to your bottom line.
It may sound complicated, but it’s actually very simple: delegate, automate, or delete anything that doesn’t require your personal attention. Here’s how to apply this principle to your business.
Every business has projects that need to get done but aren’t tied to your company’s core business function. For instance, writing press releases, processing returns, managing customer service issues, and keeping the books. You may have handled all of these tasks (and then some) when you first started the business, but now they just distract you from the big picture. And they cost you money. Think about it: if you’re answering customer service calls when you could be generating more revenue, then you’re cutting into your own profits. Say you hired an assistant at $15/hour to answer the phone while you bring in $150/hour speaking, coaching, or doing some other high level function. After you pay the assistant, you’d still be earning $135/hour and working more efficiently. As you grow your business, it’s necessary to find employees or contractors you trust and delegate some of the day-to-day tasks that slow you down.
Of course, not everything requires a live person. Once you create systems to automate mindless tasks, you’ll notice that your business runs more smoothly and you have more time to devote to tasks that really matter. With the right equipment and a little set-up, it’s possible to automate bulk mailings, auto-responses to emails, payroll, bill paying, and many other tasks. You can also use web-based tools to automate your social media marketing. You (or a member of your staff) should still monitor social media sites like Twitter or Facebook to lend a personal touch from time to time, but services like TwitterFeed.com allow you to syndicate new blog posts to your Twitter followers automatically. There are similar tools available for Facebook. Google Alerts is another web-based automation tool that will automatically email you when your company is mentioned on a blog or website. Sign up at Google.com/alerts.
Of course, sometimes the smartest solution is to simply hit the delete button! Emails such as those from individuals wanting you to blog about their new book or buy advertising on their website, nonprofits soliciting donations, or businesses selling you stuff don’t require a follow up. Mass emails from a commercial entity are required to include an “unsubscribe” option so that’s an easy way to eliminate excessive emails in the future. Another option is to create an email filter so messages from certain addresses get automatically deleted or moved to a folder for you to review later.
Once you’ve used these strategies to streamline your business processes, you’ll enjoy lower stress levels and increased productivity, both of which will benefit your business.