Some of the biggest challenges that small businesses face have to do with resources: budgeting and time. Working on improving your productivity can have a very positive effect on your success as well as your growth: your team will be less stressed and you’ll have more time to focus on the tasks that matter most.
In this blog post, I’m going to share 4 tips and tools that will help your small business productivity.
Because the “trick” to grow your business is not working harder, but rather, working smarter. That’s not to say you don’t need to work hard (do you ever!) but there are so many different ways to help improve your productivity across your entire organization. Read on to find out some of the best ways to do so:
1. Use a Business Dashboard to Track and Monitor Your Entire Business
A good business dashboard can make a huge difference to your productivity:
- You’ll have access to all of your important business data, all in one place, so you don’t have to log in to numerous tools and software to find what you need (which is a great time-saver)
- Be more organized with your business and financial data, send invoices on time, and track your business, marketing, and sales KPIs in real time
- You can create dashboards for your entire team; for example, the sales team can keep track of total sales, who sold what, and so on, while marketers can focus on social media and other digital marketing KPIs
There are lots of great options for business dashboards; one of them is 9 Spokes, a free business dashboard for SMEs which allows you to connect all of your digital tools and software to track them all in one place.
Plus, it’s also a great way to discover useful tools to help manage your business and marketing – which you can check out directly with 9 Spokes and sign up for a free trial to see if the tools are what you need.
As you can see above, there are tools in 9 different categories – money, customers, product, my people, marketing, sales, productivity, information, and specialist – so you can build your ideal dashboard and focus on the data that matters to you.
2. Use One Platform for All Team Communication
However small or big your team might be, team communication can take up a lot of time and result in plenty of frustrations.
People often use different channels to communicate – social media, email, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. – and this can actually be detrimental to your team’s productivity: finding a conversation or task, looking for specific documents, not being able to reach someone, and so on.
Ideally, you should use a collaboration tool for teams that everyone on your team can use to communicate, find important information that they need (without having to bother someone else to find it for them), and find the files and documents they need, easily.
There are numerous great tools that can help you do this – Slack is arguably one of the most popular.
What’s great about it is that it’s very intuitive and easy to organize, you can easily track activity and find whatever you might be looking for, and plus, you can also upload and use it as a task manager. Oh, and there’s a desktop app too so you don’t have to keep it open in your browser constantly.
You can create multiple channels and then add the people you want to each channel (so you can protect any private matters or sensitive discussions, but also so you don’t cluster people’s slack with irrelevant conversations) and then, simply start engaging.
You can also upload documents so you can keep everything in one place and more importantly, you can integrate with other services, like Dropbox and Google Drive for file-sharing, or Trello for managing your tasks.
Another way to use Slack is to give people tasks – and integrate with Workast to track these tasks more easily.
3. Use One Tool to Manage All of Your Projects and Tasks
Just like with team communication, using a tool to manage all of your projects and tasks can make a huge difference to your business’s productivity.
Because this way, there’s no room for confusion as to who needs to do what and by when and you can better make sure that you’re hitting your deadlines and getting things done.
And it’s much more difficult to avoid those annoying tasks that you always want to put off when you can see that you have to do them every time you log into your task manager.
One of the best options for task and project management is Asana, which you can use to manage all of your projects and add your whole team.
For every project you have, you can list out every step of the way and each task that needs to be done to help you achieve your deadlines. Your tasks can be assigned to the appropriate team member and their progress is easily monitored and clearly visible in the project main page (as you can see above), which makes campaign tracking much easier.
I also find Asana to be very useful at actually putting together your plan because it allows you to plan your campaigns visually and you can easily see how your tasks are connected between them.
4. Automate Your Small Tasks So You Can Focus on the Big Ones
Are you using automation to help clear out your tasks? There is so much that you can do – and in many cases, for free – to automate tasks in your everyday life, both personal and business.
Let’s start with IFTTT. Standing for if-this-then-that, this service has countless applets that you can use to automate tasks. The way it works is, you can connect different apps so that whenever something happens, an action is taken.
So to get started, you can simply look up the tools and software you normally use (as well as social networks) and see what applets there are.
Zapier is very similar; it connects your tools and software so that every time a trigger happens, a specific action is taken automatically.
It works with over 1000 apps, which you can explore using their search engine; then, simply click on the tool or service you want, to see what automation options you have:
For every tool, there are a plethora of options (some with fewer options than others, of course) to help you and your team improve your productivity.
While these might not generally be very time-consuming, they do add up; and, more importantly, they take away your concentration from other tasks. So, why not get rid of them so you can focus on the tasks that only you can do?
Productivity is extremely important to small business success – and not just the CEO’s productivity, but the entire team’s. To sum up what we’ve covered in this blog post, you can improve your small business efficiency and success by using different useful productivity tools and by following these tips:
- Using a business dashboard to track of all your important business data
- Use one platform to handle all team communication
- Use one platform to manage all your team tasks and your projects, from start to finish
- Automate small tasks so you can focus on your most important tasks and projects
What are some of your best tips and tools for creating a more productive working environment?