Our Top Time Saving Tips for Small Business Owners

time saving tipsSome of the best time saving tips are those that at first appear counterintuitive. How can doing less and working fewer hours help you get more done? It may sound too good to be true, but we’re going to show you just how easy working smarter, not harder, can actually be.

Work Fewer Hours

Think of it like a race – if you only have 7 hours to get everything done, as opposed to 12 or 14, you’re going to focus your attention and do everything you can to meet your deadline. When there is no time for daydreaming or procrastinating, you’ll be surprised how quickly things can get accomplished! So go ahead and make dinner plans, then do your best to finish everything before stepping out the door.

What Would a Successful Person Do?

Our time saving tips are all about helping you become the powerhouse small business owner we know you are. So why are you spending hours a day creating invoices, managing your social media accounts and updating your website?

It’s time to delegate, my dear SBO! Learn to let go, especially when it comes to menial tasks, and hire a virtual assistant or two to take the load off of you. Your time is valuable, and the less time you spend tweeting, the more time you’ll be able to spend actually making money. Do you think Warren Buffet does his own invoicing? How about Richard Branson? Of course not! Hop on to Elance or Odesk and start telling people how they can help you already!

Prioritize

Sure, you have 10,000 things on your to-do list, most of which really need to get done, um, yesterday. But be honest with yourself. If you could only do three things today, what would they be? Choose the top three things on your to-do list, and knock those out first thing in the morning. Then the rest of the day, you can rest easy knowing that at least the big stuff has been taken care of.

Unplug

Time saving tips often mention limiting the time you spend on the Internet, and for good reason. With a literally endless supply of distracting entertainments, the Internet may just be the easiest way to get absolutely nothing done on a given day. What’s worse, there is something about the act of being on the computer that can make you feel like you’re getting work done, even when the fact of the matter is that you’ve just spent about 5 hours on Facebook. Oops.

If you don’t need the Internet for research, turn the dang thing off. Close your browser (if you have that kind of will power), or unplug your wireless router altogether. You may turn it back on when you are finished with said project.

Label, Filter and Archive All Emails

Time saving tips for streamlining your email experience center around reducing the number of emails in your inbox at any given time. Create filters for emails you may want to refer to, but don’t need to look at immediately. You can also create labels to group certain emails together, making them easy to find at a later date. Gmail’s archive feature even makes pulling up old emails incredibly simple, even if they haven’t been labeled. Of course, you have to remember what to search for, so assigning a specific label to each email is always a safer bet.

Finally, unsubscribe from the junk mail you never read! If you keep getting emails that you find you never open, take two seconds and unsubscribe from the list. It will save you tons of time in the long run.

What are some of your most creative time saving tips?

photo credit: stylelist.com

Holiday Ghost Town? Quick! Get Organized!

get organized
Is your assistant in the dog house?

This year, when everyone else is indulging in an embarrassing amount of sugar and gifted electronics, you will be taking advantage of the holiday ghost town in order to get organized! When your clients, partners and customers have unplugged to enjoy some offline holiday fun, you can take advantage of silent night after silent night by taking a good, hard look at your small business’s systems.

Step One – Don’t panic!

Yes, your inbox isn’t as bombarded as usual. No, there aren’t any phone calls to return. Yes, the number of emails opened and the number of orders placed is clearly lower than it normally is.  But don’t panic! Everyone checks out during the holidays, giving you some much needed down time to take stock of the way your run your business, and to finally – finally! – play catch up. So relax. No one else is making any money right now either.

Step Two – De-clutter your desktop

Set aside a few hours (maybe more if things have gotten way out of control) to de-clutter your desktop, and get organized when it comes to your personal computer. Sure, you have folders assigned for specific accounts, and you know where everything is. But in the busy months leading up to the holidays, did everything belonging to Client A actually make it into Client A’s folder?

Take a good, hard look at your desktop. If it looks more like a crater-faced teenager than an inviting computer screen, it’s time to do some damage control. Crank some tunes, grab some hot chocolate, and make sure all of those icons find their proper home.

Step Three – Unsubscribe from email lists

If it’s been more than six months since you’ve opened an email from the folks at, say, Groupon or Expedia, it might be time to unsubscribe. The holidays are a great time to organize your inbox, since you won’t be inundated with new emails as you’re attempting to purge the old.

While you’re at it, delete your old emails! Every single message should be:

1. Answered and/or…

2. Labeled and archived or…

3. Deleted!

Fight the urge to ask “But what if I need it?” Unless it’s related to money or something legal, chuck it. At the very least, archive it to make room for all of the fantastic, lucrative emails that are waiting to appear in a clean shiny inbox with lots of room.

Step Four – Gather the troops

A great way to get organized during your holiday downtime is to combine the various accounting, administrative, and organizational forces that have been working for you throughout the year. From your Shoeboxed account to your FreshBooks account to your PayPal account, the holidays are a great time to start taking stock of year end numbers. Make sure all invoices are marked as paid (and if they haven’t been paid, starting hunting those naughty clients down!).

Begin gathering totals, crunching numbers and preparing tax treasures for your accountant. If you do it now, you’ll be free to enjoy a fresh start in 2013, and your accountant will love you for not giving her a frantically scribbled spreadsheet come April.

Step Five – Get critical

The end of the year is a great time to evaluate what’s working in your company, what needs to change, and what (or who) may need to go.

Do you absolutely love your invoicing application? What about your CRM software? Come to think of it, what about your assistant?

Get honest with yourself as you weigh the pros and cons of the various components that help your business run. It may be difficult to let go of a program (or person) that you’ve been with for a while, but if you’re anything less than stoked, there’s just no reason to be spending your hard earned money on mediocre products and services.

If you only had time to do one thing to get organized during the holidays, what would it be?

photo credit: dailymayhem.com

12 Self Employed Tax Deductions You’re Not Using (But should be!)

There is something about taking self employed tax deductions that makes small business owners and solopreneurs start shaking in their boots. Maybe it’s the fear of making a mistake. After all, when you work for yourself, there’s nobody else to blame if there is a snafu or two on your return come tax time. But the self employed have some incredible tax opportunities that regular employees don’t get to enjoy. Are you taking all the deductions you could be?  Check out what Shoeboxed has to say about our first six self employed tax deductions by clicking here.

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