Finding early success in small business is all about how effective you can be with the time you have.
In the early days most small businesses are short on almost every resource: personnel, funding, income, awareness and customer base. The one thing you can when launching your small business is your own capacity to commit time and effort into getting things done, and if you are exceptionally lucky, the same from a couple dedicated partners.
But this makes a situation where the adage ‘work smart not hard’ has never been more relevant. Many a small business has failed, not from lack of effort, but from the inability to delegate, invest and prioritise.
Below are productivity tips to deliver the right kind of productivity and launch your small business to success.
Set 3 Clear Goals for Your Day and Work on the most Important Things First
Successful people set daily goals but not all goal-setting is created equal.
An effective goal must meet an array of different criteria. Your goals should also be well-defined, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-constrained. All of these criteria are essential for different reasons.
Clear goals make it much easier to get you to where you want to be. Goals that are precise and quantifiable boost your productivity and allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion. Achievable goals help you maintain your confidence and motivates you to complete more the next day. Relevant goals help drive your agenda forward instead of achieving things for the sake of ticking something off a list. Creating a time constraint on your goals not only shows you when you can celebrate meeting them, but also helps to increase your productivity and sense of urgency.
Working on the most important tasks first is also something to keep in mind when setting your goals and planning your day. Mark Twain once said that the first thing you should do each morning is eat a live frog. That way, you can move through the rest of your day knowing the worst part is over. The “frog” represents your most important and unpleasant task for the day, and you should always try to do it first.
Stay Alert and Focused with the Pomodoro Technique
Productivity is all about staying alert and maintaining focus while you work on one task at a time. Distracting emails and notifications can greatly reduce your efficiency.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo as a method to increase productivity while studying. It is a very simple technique that uses a timer to create focused blocks of time and breaks. The increased focus achieved by this method allows you to get more done, even while allowing for break time.
To try the Pomodoro Technique, simply start a timer for 25 minutes, wait until the timer sounds, and then take a 5 minute break. After four consecutive work/break sequences, you should take a longer break (about 15 minutes). Feel free to change the time lengths depending on your preference.
If you don’t just want to use an old kitchen timer, there are many different productivity apps that use the Pomodoro Technique. Check out apps like “Focus Booster,” “PomoDone” and “Pomodoro Time Pro” to see which one works best for you!
Embrace Automation and Outsourcing
One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is to assume that hard work alone is the key to success. While working hard is important, working smart is even more crucial.
When you’re an employee, you get paid the same amount no matter what you work on or how much you work during the pay cycle. However, when you’re a small business owner and work for yourself, the amount of work and type of work you do will greatly influence the speed of your business’ growth.
You should never spend your valuable time completing tasks that can be cheaply automated or completed by someone else. While you may think you’re saving money by completing these tasks yourself, if these things are stopping you from working on more crucial parts of your business, you are actually losing money.
When you realize you and your employees do not have time to adequately pursue the growth of your business, it is time to consider outsourcing or automating.
Get it Done, Worry About Perfection Later
The 80/20 rule is a very common management concept in the world of entrepreneurship. The rule basically states that 80% of your value is created by 20% of your efforts and vice versa.
However the flip side of this is that you waste a large amount of your time (about 80%) perfecting aspects of your work for a small amount of true benefit (about 20%). Focus on finishing a task completely and don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the details.
You should also make sure that you’re spending your time working on things that significantly improve your core skills and values.
Meticulously Measure Results
High productivity can never be based simply on the number of tasks you’re completing in a given amount of time. The things you work on for your business have a wide array of different values. Without measuring how these things are truly benefiting you and adding value to your business, you may find yourself just chipping away at meaningless tasks.
After you complete a task, you should always evaluate it to determine the value it added. This can take some time at first, but the time investment will reward you many times over in the long-run and it can allow you to effectively scale your productivity by identifying the tasks you can perform that are most beneficial to your business.