Business owners who ‘work smarter, not harder’ tend to be more successful than other leaders because they understand how to delegate and know when to ask for help, says Teresa Campbell.
Business owners often struggle to manage multiple demands on their time. It’s all too easy to ‘fire-fight’ your way through the day, rushing from one crisis to the next. We call this spending too much time working ‘in’ the business and not enough time working ‘on’ it. It’s a common problem and, unfortunately, it’s bad for your business and can adversely affect your health as well as your personal and financial well being. The question is, how do you break the cycle?
Every business owner is different and certain strategies that work for one individual or that work in one sector may be less effective for another. Nevertheless, there are key actions most owners can take to make it easier to ‘work smarter, not harder’ as they develop and grow their businesses.
10 ways to work smarter, not harder
1. Know your strengths and weaknesses and learn to delegate. No one is a master of all trades. Recognise that there are some tasks which others can carry out more effectively or efficiently than you can. Where possible, you should delegate these tasks.
2. Seek independent feedback to sense-check your decision making. This could be as simple as seeking advice from your accountant or it could mean appointing an independent board member with experience and knowledge of your sector.
3. Eliminate distractions. Learn to manage demands on your time including limiting social media and email interruptions.
4. Consider outsourcing functions such as HR, payroll and accounts so that you can invest your time in more profitable activities.
5. Be open to learning. Look for new ways to innovate and become more efficient.
6. Prioritise customer care. A happy customer is easier to manage than a dissatisfied one and repeat business is easier to find than new customers.
7. Discourage gossip. Office politics creates disharmony and is time consuming and expensive if it culminates in disciplinary problems.
8. Use technology to make life easier, but choose your systems wisely keeping in mind that third party suppliers bring with them risks that could impact your reputation if things go wrong.
9. Optimise your work processes, eliminating duplication and time wasting.
10. Foster a culture of continuous improvement and trust where people are comfortable owning up to their mistakes and learning from them.
As well as learning to work smarter yourself, you should also consider setting smarter goals for your team. Earlier this year, PKF-FPM shared tips on how to set goals and align individual goals with your business strategy. For more information on these topics and to find out how PKF-FPM’s leadership advisory and mentoring services can help your business succeed, please contact a member of our team.
Teresa Campbell l Director