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How to get more out of your day: 12 productivity tips for small business owners

How to get more out of your day: 12 productivity tips for small business owners

Do you have emails clogging your inbox and meetings which drag on for hours? Are you constantly putting out fires in your business rather than working on the company, or finding yourself sitting behind your computer at midnight? You could use a productivity boost.

It’s a common theme for small business owners to be, or at least believe they are, the glue holding together their company. Consequently, small business owners often become snowed under with the everyday chores of running a company – fixing broken air conditioners, answering telephones and responding to hundreds of emails.

Not only can these tasks be dull, but they also distract from the essential tasks of running a successful business – devising strategies to boost growth, improving customer service, hiring the right staff and further developing products or services.

With some simple strategies, business owners can get more out of their day and in turn lift their business’s growth. SmartCompany spoke to business mentor and founder of Board of Directors 12 Stefan Kazakis and Australian Institute of Management chief executive Tony Gleeson.

1. Set clear goals

Without goals, it’s easy to become distracted, or let other tasks get in the way of what’s most important to your business.

“First and foremost, you have to be mentally rehearsed in what your objectives and goals are up to 12 months out for the business,” Kazakis says.

“The goals have to be very clear and they need to be front of mind. Then what you have to achieve is clear and almost likely something you have to obey.”

Gleeson says research suggests people should spend two thirds of their time completing one main goal each day.

“It’s something business owners need to work on,” he says.

In order to stick to the set goals, Gleeson recommends business owners have a “check and balance” system in place.

“This could be in the form of a mentor, an informal or a formal board. This will help stop a business from going off track. It’s easy for a business, say a menswear store, to make a split decision to start stocking womenswear products too, but if they don’t have the correct marketing strategy or if the customers don’t exist, then they need someone to tell them,” he says.

2. Identify relevant tasks and income growth activities

Breaking down your day into key objectives and activities to accomplish can help a business owner reach their ultimate goal, be it for the week, month, quarter or year.

Kazakis says it helps to identify three relevant tasks.

“Make a list of your 10 most regular tasks for each day/week, afterwards circle the relevant three that make you the most money/profits,” he says.

“Once you know what the relevant three are then your aim is to increase the amount of time you spend in those areas by 50% each day/week.”

Kazakis also recommends identifying income growth activities and giving special attention to these in order to get more out of each day.

“Be a student and disciple of the five IGAs. These are five activities which are solely focused on income growth activities. Whether you work mainly in sales, marketing, finance or operations you can grow income in each area.”

3. Be customer-centric

Every business is reliant on its customers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tech company, a retailer or law firm, without customers to buy your products or use your services there is no business.

Gleeson says to get the most out of each day, business owners need to make sure they are focused on what the customer needs and wants.

“Focus on the customers. Think about what’s going to make a difference to the customer or your clients,” he says.

“You can really only do that if you have a solid customer-centric strategy and a corporate plan which puts everybody in that head space. Customers are the ones which will ultimately make or break you.

Gleeson recommends trying to “walk in your customer’s shoes” to ensure a business’s product or service is in line with what the customer wants.

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Yolanda Redrup

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Yolanda is a SmartCompany reporter who has a knack for covering business misconduct and retail issues. Previously, she was the editor of RMIT's student magazine Catalyst. Follow her on twitter: @YolandaRedrup