Running a small business is time-consuming, and efficiency is key to turning a profit. Companies are increasingly looking toward software, the cloud, and automation, relying on computer intelligence to make the most of the workday.
By handing off repetitive tasks and turning to outsourcing when you extra help, these life hacks for small businesses can make you more efficient and find ways to free up time for more important and rewarding work.
Small business automation
The average day can quickly fill up with repetitive tasks. What if you could offload that busy work? Automation can help reduce or eliminate some time-wasting chores. While it may seem like something reserved for large firms with big budgets, there are simple ways for small businesses to see the benefits, too.
Automation web sites like IFTTT (If This, Then That), Zapier, and Microsoft Flow use simple, sharable scripts to automate tasks. One event triggers another, so you don't have to. IFTTT calls these events "recipes," Zapier refers to them as "zaps," and Flow calls them, well, "flows."
For example, you can:
- Create a flow that enters your work hours in a timesheet when you arrive at your office.
- Use Zapier to star Gmail messages, which then become an item in project management software, like Trello.
- Use a pre-made recipe in IFTTT that puts an event on your calendar when you receive an emailed meeting request from a coworker.
- Utilize specific tools to automate the work of scheduling meetings, like ScheduleOnce.
Outsourcing for small business owners
Many small businesses can benefit from hiring freelancers with skills that you - or your team - may not have. Or, maybe you need to ramp up quickly when your workload grows and easily dial back your labor costs once the rush is over. If hiring a contractor can help you deliver high-quality results with less expense, it may also help you outperform competitors.
Upwork and Fiverr are both good choices for finding reasonably priced contract work. You can get help with web design, writing, marketing, and other services, and both services also feature accountants, bookkeepers, and different business-specific roles.
Time-consuming work like transcription or data entry can be taken off your plate and sometimes done overnight, depending on where the freelancer is located. You can even hire a virtual assistant to help get the job done. Freelancers receive ratings and reviews, so you can browse for the right candidate online or post a job and have them come to you.
Cloud-based small business productivity software
It’s simple and cost-effective to offload your business-grade hardware and software needs to the cloud. There’s no need for expensive equipment and tech consultants — most small business owners can easily use cloud-based services to set up accounts for office software, sign electronic documents, back up important data, or create a web site. User-friendly cloud-based tools make quick work of creating a professional presence or simply sharing files with coworkers and clients.
Many small businesses have no IT staff, but they still face serious, costly threats to their computers and important files, including financial data and sensitive documents. A subscription to Norton Internet Security helps ensure your computers and software are secure and free of viruses and malware. Mobile threats are a growing concern as well. F-Secure Protection Service for Business may be a good choice for businesses that rely on mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Finally, bundling your phone, Internet, and cloud services may save you time managing different services from different vendors — and boost your bottom line. Comcast Business offers small business phone solutions, including office and mobile service. You can use our fast business Internet and cloud-based software together in a package, or select a la carte based on the needs of your small company.