Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.
Stress does not bring out the best in people, especially the small business owner. Being accountable to yourself, your business, your employees, and your clients nonstop isn’t easy. Managing the daily administrative tasks and upkeep needed to keep your business running while simultaneously trying to grow your business is a formidable task. What do you do when an unexpected challenge threatens to throw that already precarious balancing act out of whack?
There are ways small business owners can keep stress low and profits high so you can manage your growth – and preserve your sanity. Much of this will hinge on being most efficient and productive with the limited time and resources you have. Here are seven tips on how to start.
Tip 1: Refocus on Your Goals.
You did not start your business with the sole intent of making money. You started it so you could deliver a unique solution to your audience’s problem. In a time of high-stress and increased worry over finances, take a step back and refocus on your goals.
By taking the time to retrain your focus on something positive, it forces you to cut back on the urge to overwork. After all, overworking can be bad for your health (by making you impatient, forgetful, restless, or even angry), and by refocusing you will feel empowered to be more productive and less likely to make a mistake that forces you to do costly reevaluations or reworks.
Tip 2: Delegate.
In a survey conducted by The Alternative Board, they found that nearly two-thirds of business owners would benefit from delegating work to others. In so doing, they would free themselves to focus on more strategic endeavors for their business like:
- Sales revenue generation
- New product development
- Establishing new partnerships
Delegation also come in handy during stressful periods like tax season, as those offloaded tasks give you more time to prepare tax documentation and file with plenty of time to spare. The logic behind why delegation is beneficial for business owners boils down to the adage, “time is money.” When you know a challenge like this is approaching, begin thinking ahead to how you’ll delegate and suddenly overcoming it won’t seem quite so difficult.
“Those hours go missing from the sales, product development or marketing departments, which very likely all have higher revenue potential than the five-hour task that could be delegated. In short, business owners are missing out on increased sales and revenue because they are not outsourcing or delegating as much as they could (and probably should).”
Tip 3: Be Cost-Conscious.
While any changes you make to your budget or cost-saving efforts right now may not have an immediate impact, they will set you up for success moving forward – Start working on how to be more cost-conscious in 2017 (link to Xerox blog with the same title), and you can look forward to better profits and less stress in the weeks and months to come
Tip 4: Check Your Equipment.
While your company’s hardware might not be something you directly associate with stress, it very well could be a source of frustration and loss of productivity that’s doing just as much harm.
I would suggest you make time to do regular assessments—especially at that time of year when you are in anticipation of the tax deadline—to ensure everything runs efficiently and maintains a streamlined workflow. A simple solution to this would be to toss out old, inefficient equipment and opt for a multifunction printer, which is particularly useful for managing the paper trail you have to deal with during tax season.
Tip 5: Review your security measures.
Stress often comes about when something unexpected and negative occurs—like unintentionally compromising your company’s financial data or employees’ personal information. Rather than cross your fingers and hope that never happens, it is best to prepare to cut down on that “what-if” stress so you can focus on the tasks at hand. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using secure print services.
Tip 6: Automate your workflows.
Automation is essential to saving business owners time and reducing errors in the workflow. Much as you would entrust your responsibilities to other team members, it is important to assign your processes to software built to handle the management and automation of those workflows.
- Stay organized with cloud-based storage like Google Docs or Dropbox for secure, centralized, and organized record-keeping.
- Use accounting software like FreshBooks or Quickbooks, so you can stop worrying about actively managing your finances while remaining knowledgeable about what’s happening.
- Find a tax software that integrates and directly imports from your accounting software to free yourself from the time spent manually inputting tax information.
- Invest in a Web Capture solution that streamlines the scanning-to-web process that plays a significant role during tax time.
Tip 7: Watch how your stress affects your team.
Sure, running a business or managing a department is hard on you. Your responsibilities to yourself, you clients and your employees seem endless. Keep in mind, however, that all that stress you are harboring can have a trickle-down effect.
Some estimates claim that workplace stress costs employers between $200 and $300 billion every year. That is why it is important to watch how your stress affects your team. Another reason to do this? Because an increase in happiness has shown to increase one’s productivity by up to 12%. By keeping your workplace free of stressors and overall feeling positive, you can do a better job of maintaining a productive workforce that’s able to support the workflows essential to your business’s success.
As you manage your competing priorities, stress, and the always important bottom line, trust in your team, invest in the right tools and give yourself the room to minimize your responsibilities and stay focused and you’ll be well positioned for stress-free success.
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