If you are like most small business professionals you have a couple of pain points, with time and money usually topping the list. It’s that first topic I would like to discuss today.
It’s a fact that we are all working a lot these days. Probably too much, truth be told. There are several reasons for this, but ironically, one of the culprits may also be our friend: technology.
Technology is undoubtedly one of the problems contributing to our struggle with time. Example: last night around 8 pm I was packing for a trip and I texted a question to my assistant Stephanie. She texted me back the answer about five minutes later, and it dawned on me that a decade ago I never would had thought to bother Steph at 8 o’clock at night. But technology has made it such that we have blurred the lines between work and play.
Technology is the reason I can write this column on a plane on my way to Mexico, but it is also why you are answering emails at 11 pm, and why we all have to be reminded to turn off our cell phones while at the movies.
Indeed, according to the Spring 2014 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, 25% of the respondents said they work more than 60 hours a week, and 62% said that they give up vacation time to run their business.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
So how do we regain some of that time? I have three answers for you:
First, on Wednesday, June 25 at 8 pm EST, I discussed this very topic during a Google+ Hangout with my friends here at Bank of America, representatives from MasterCard, and moderated by CNBC’s Carol Roth. We shared some really interesting tips, tools and insights that should help you be more productive and in the process, reclaim some of that time.
Second, as I mentioned above, one of the solutions is the same technology that can be the problem. There are a lot of apps and programs out there that have been developed to free your time and make you more efficient. The ones I list below can turn dead or wasted time into productive time, allowing you to transfer those lost hours into fun time or extra profits.
Hootsuite: The old-fashioned way to manage social media is to post the same content daily on several different platforms. Hootsuite obviates the need for that. The app allows you to link all your social media content, schedule tweets for distribution across those platforms, and find out who’s interested in your postings. For small businesses that don’t have the time to consistently engage with followers online, it’s a huge help.
Evernote: With so much information out there today, keeping it all straight can be a bear. That’s where Evernote comes in. The promise of Evernote is “Remember everything, capture anything, access anywhere, find things fast.” You can use it to capture and remember most anything, whether that is URLs to review later, a favorite recipe, or a list of ideas for the sales team. Evernote helps you keep and find more of what you don’t want to lose.
McAfee: Yes, you know that you are supposed to have virus/malware protection on your computer, but do you? Amazingly, most small businesses do not. So, for that reason alone, getting software protection like McAfee makes sense. But here is where it saves time: Pro versions of the program log, keep, protect, and remember all of your passwords. No need to ever try to remember or find that long-forgotten password ever again.
Checklist Wrangler: Like to make lists? Then this is the app for you. This simple solution lets you not only quickly make different types of lists, but it helps you manage your execution of the items on the list.
And finally, the third way to get some of that time back is this:
Just say no. As in, “No, I really don’t need to write an email right now,” or even, “No, I don’t really need to bother Stephanie tonight.”
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.