As an entrepreneur, you probably already understand that time literally means money. That means one of the most productive things you can do as a self-sufficient business owner is to make the best use of every minute, day, and hour you have to earn income.
When you maximize the use of your time, it increases your efficiency, which, in turn, makes every business hour more likely to generate income. Which, in turn – you guessed it – increases your productivity. Here are five simple tips that can help you work more productively and efficiently.
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Build Value Fast by Focusing on What You Do Best
Your income as an entrepreneur is dependent on your ability to market your services, create return business from your existing customers, and obtain new customers on a regular basis. These facts can make it tempting to accept every new income-generating opportunity that comes your way.
A more productive way to generate regular and consistent income is to figure out an area where you can quickly create value for a niche your competition is ignoring, and avoid spreading yourself too thin. In other words, to turn your skills into a niche market.
Creating a niche market allows you to fill your client funnel with people who know what you do, exactly what you charge, and why you’re worth it. Think of it this way – you create a consumer image of yourself, not as Walmart, but as Apple. Sure, you can buy a smartphone from either one, but the expectations you have of each is very different, right?
Give yourself that same marketing edge and make your workload easier. Instead of being known as an all-purpose graphic designer, you become known as the graphic designer who specializes in visual representation for law firms. Instead of being known as a general writer, you market yourself as a writer for small business topics. Not only does your specialization make your business easier to market, but it also makes your workload easier by allowing you to home in on the work you do best.
Practice Personal Accountability
While you’re reining your specialty in, work on creating efficiency in all areas of your business. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at the amount of time you can generate simply by streamlining operations and holding yourself accountable to the processes and policies you put into place. For example, far too many entrepreneurs spend endless hours preparing quotes for individual clients and projects.
One of the most effective ways you can streamline your business is by creating a rate sheet. Your rate sheet doesn’t need to be a fancy document – it doesn’t even need to be seen by anyone other than you.
Simply determine the amount you need to charge for each type of product you create, assign a profitable dollar amount to that project, and stick to your pricing. With a rate sheet, clients know what to expect and when they recommend you to others, they can give them an idea of your rates. You’ll also avoid spending hours in front of the calculator every time a new project comes your way.
Another way you can use self-accountability to your business’s advantage is by setting clear goals. Business goals help you define your growth trajectory and keep you focused and on track while income goals help you accurately quote projects and meet personal and business financial goals.
Limit Time-Draining Distractions
Okay. Now comes the hard part. With access to so many different things at a time these days, it can be extremely easy to fall down a rabbit hole and waste time on things like social media, endless email loops, text messaging, and outside requests for help.
As an entrepreneur, you definitely need a plan in place to limit these distractions because a quick check of your social accounts can turn into a lost hour in no time flat.
Here’s how to tame those time-draining distractions: Schedule a half-hour in the morning, in the middle of the day, and at the end of the day to read and respond to emails. You should also practice checking social media updates during your downtime.
In other words, on your break or in your free time – not during your self-imposed business hours.
Another great way to work smarter, not harder, is to learn to say no – especially if you work from home like so many people do these days. You can easily lose huge chunks of time by saying yes to time-robbers. Think about it, if you say yes to every request that comes your way, you’ll eat into your time and into your productivity – which will eat right into your income.
Besides, those people (even fellow entrepreneurs) who want to “pick your brain for a minute” should be paying for the expertise they clearly know you have. Guard your time like your business depends on it, because it does.
Leverage Your Power Hours
When someone else pays for your time, they, not you, get to dictate your working hours. Part of the joy of entrepreneurship is working when you feel like working. If you pay attention to your natural rhythms (or your energy levels) and keep track of the time of day when you’re most able to easily crank out work, those are the hours you should be working on your most important projects and tasks.
If you’re a natural night owl, setting your work hours for the evenings or even overnight makes sense. If you’re a morning person, the same rule applies. Eschew traditional work hours and work at the time of day when you can be your most productive.
Forcing yourself to comply with traditional work hours – or with any work schedule that doesn’t take advantage of your physical and mental body clock – can only lead to frustration and to a decrease in productivity.
You can also take advantage of scheduling tools that make it look like you’re working even when you’re not. Social media and email schedulers are only two of the tools you can use to streamline your business and use your body clock to your best advantage.
Keep Both To-Do Lists and Done Lists
Many entrepreneurs use to-do lists to help organize their days. To-do lists have their place and can actually be quite beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Want to make a traditional to-do list more effective? Start building your to-do list at night instead of in the morning and avoid adding to your to-do list throughout the day. Doing so can make a steadily growing list seem overwhelming which can actually decrease your productivity.
A done list can also be beneficial because it lets you see your accomplishments (versus scratched out items on a to-do list) and can be a tool of encouragement. A done list can also help you avoid repeating tasks you’ve already taken care of and can be an effective tracking tool as well. Like a to-do list, a done list can bring structure and organization to your workday.
As an entrepreneur, you are a business owner. That means you carry the weight of your business – no matter how large or small – on your shoulders. When you put the best tools, tips, techniques, and tricks into practice, work becomes simpler and more fluid and productivity naturally increases.
Avoid making your workday more complicated than it has to be, focusing on goals you did not create for yourself and your business, or letting outside demands on your time interfere with your best income-generating hours. You work for you, right? Then create the systems that work for you and find out how much more effective and productive they can make your entrepreneurial journey.