Do you feel like you’re constantly doing the same work day after day? Stuck in a cycle without any contribution to growth? Do you want the room to be able to think creatively and to evolve the business, but you can’t seem to get the wheels turning?
Small business owners get stuck in the rut of working in the trenches, working in the business rather than on it. Here, we’re going to look at how you can step back, streamline your workload, and start thinking like a leader.
Know where your day is going
Let’s start with the very beginning of the day. There’s a good chance you have major objectives you would like to meet, whether it’s putting together a project plan, organizing your marketing calendar, or something else. Other day-to-day work might be bogging you down, however. Make a point of organizing your day, dedicating blocks of time to different tasks, instead of working on what simply comes first. Use to-do list apps like Wunderlist.com to put together your personal objectives and then use scheduling apps like Google Calendar to allocate a certain amount of time to at least three of those objectives every day. The rest of your day-to-day duties can be fit between those time blocks.
Cut down your time-wasting
If you have a problem with productivity, then it needs to be addressed. We all find ways to waste time at work. Some of them even feel like work. Perhaps the biggest culprit in this area is the email inbox. Limit the amount of time you spend on reading, replying, and organizing emails every day. Of course, exceptions must be made for urgent emails or information and correspondence you’re waiting on in relation to your goals. Otherwise, think of what other time-wasting habits you might have and take steps to eliminate them (or at least minimize them) during your working day. If you want to get motivated by the business, you have to give it your full attention.
Know your goals
What are the goals of the business? Do you know what your next milestone is? Does your team? Perhaps you want to increase sales by a certain amount, improve customer retention, see more traffic on the site. Whatever your goals are, start thinking of them actively and thinking about how you and the team can pool your efforts together to reach them. Project management software like Trello.com is great for communicating on different goals with different team members. You can track progress, keep up with the conversation, share resources and more, ensuring that your work towards a goal is never stagnating. Don’t take your eyes off the prize. The goals you come up with here will also reflect in the personal objectives you set for yourself every day.
Streamline your admin
There are admin tasks that simply cannot be ignored, reduced, or set aside. When it comes to handling things like HR, accounts payable, or approving new vendors for the team, you can’t afford to stop doing it. However, both you and any members of your team involved in those processes can streamline them significantly. Software like DataServ.com can help you streamline and automate admin not just for yourself but across the whole team. That way, you can much more efficiently complete those vital (but often monotonous) everyday tasks, freeing up your schedule so you can focus on those personal objectives and shared goals.
Some of that busywork might not really be your responsibility. One of the aims of a business leader should be effectively trying to delegate themselves out of a job as much as possible. If you can identify duties you’re currently handling that would be better suited to another member of the team who has plenty of room on their plate, then delegate it to them. For the most basic admin and to ensure you’re not interrupted by having to constantly answer your own correspondence, it might be wise to use virtual assistant services like Zirtual.com. When you’re delegating, just make sure that you’re not handing off any tasks that are too much of a responsibility for another member of the team. If it’s something you are personally responsible for, you need to handle it yourself.
Engage your team
How engaged and motivated we are by our own work can very much be impacted by the environment and the people around us. If your people aren’t productive or motivated, it’s easy to sink into that workplace culture. That’s why you have to take steps to help them be more productive and motivated in their own work. Get to know them, give feedback on their work, reward and praise them liberally while reprimanding them responsibly. One of the biggest problems in the modern workplace is that individual team members are often too happy to pass the buck. By taking responsibility for the failures of the team, you give them some freedom to hold themselves accountable, helping you recognize their weaknesses and flaws and giving you both a path to development.
Engage with your team
If your team is motivated, productive, and engaged, then they are a resource that you need to be much more comfortable using. An open-door policy can encourage employees to be much more open about sharing ideas that could help them with their work, as well as barriers they’re currently facing. If you have too big a team and not enough time, then simply learning how to run more effective, engaging team meetings can make a big difference. Encourage employees to set topics for a meeting and share, ahead of time, what you’re going to be talking about so they can come prepared with information and insights that you can use. Most importantly, don’t invite an individual to a meeting on a topic that has no relevance to them. Nothing will kill their productivity for the rest of the day faster.
When you get a little distance from the day-to-day of running the business and you have the room to start thinking creatively, you can start spotting the strategies and means by which the business can grow. The longer you’re stuck in that rut, there more you might be slowing your own business down.