TweetChat recap on small business efficiency

May 23, 2014

Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Moran hosted a Hiscox Twitter chat with tips on running a more efficient small business.

We kicked off our first of three TweetChats with the Hiscox Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Moran. Brian’s expertise in helping entrepreneurs navigate the small-to-midsize business marketplace means he’s encountered a number of business owners who’ve needed help being more efficient. His recent post for the Hiscox small business blog highlighted four tips for running a more efficient small business. The theme was expanded on during the Twitter chat.

Below is a recap of the discussion.

What’s the #1 way small businesses operate inefficiently?

  • Many small business owners don’t have a plan on where they want to go or how they plan on getting there.
  • They make important decisions based on little or no information and it costs them time and money.
  • Time and money are the two most critical resources small businesses. They must learn to be more efficient.

Things happen quickly, how do you focus on one thing at a time?

  • My mother used to tell me “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.”
  • Another great quote is “Think quickly; act slowly.”
  • A small business must always ask “will this opportunity get us closer to our goal?” If yes, do it; if not, don’t do it.

What’s your #1 time saver for small business owners?

  • Great question. I hear many small business owners complain “I don’t have any time.”
  • Schedule your prime-time hours (9:00 am – 5:00 pm). Get big things done in the morning; smaller jobs later in the day.
  • Get rid of the “time robbers” in your day, e.g., the 30 min phone call from a friend or 45 minutes shooting the breeze with employees.
  • You can chat with people or catch up with friends during scheduled breaks in the day to recharge your battery.
  • You can’t improve what you don’t measure. If you want to “save” time you need to start measuring and scheduling it.

What tasks should small business owners definitely outsource?

  • It really depends on the business. There are very few “absolutes” in life or business.
  • If you are going to outsource anything, make it non-revenue generating work that you really don’t like to do.
  • If you earn $100/hour as a service professional, outsource the $10-15/hour jobs and focus on generating more billable hours.

How can sole proprietors motivate themselves to become more efficient?

  • If you are a sole proprietor, efficiency is critical to your success against larger competitors with more resources.
  • Here’s motivation—either become more efficient or go out of business. That’s a pretty powerful incentive.
  • Connect with other sole proprietors online to share best practices on running a more efficient business.

Most meetings are viewed as a waste time. Is a “no meetings” policy realistic for businesses?

  • It’s important to collaborate with employees on business matters. Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time.
  • Have an agenda and set a 20-minute time limit for the meeting.
  • Conduct your meetings while standing. “Standing” meetings are usually the shortest ones!

What are some simple tips to identify tasks that are taking up too much time?

  • Ask yourself, “Is this task helping me achieve my goals for the day, week, or month?”
  • Is the task something you can delegate to free up your time?
  • Was the task part of your “To Do” list or was it something that popped up?
  • If the task is eating into your scheduled prime time hours, then you need to reschedule it.

Multi-task? Yes or no? How do you do it the right way?

  • Only if you’re really good at multi-tasking, should you consider it.
  • From what I’ve seen over the years, women rock at multi-tasking; men not so much.
  • If you want to do multi-tasking right, ask people who’ve mastered it.
  • The downside of attempting 2-3 things at once is that you do all the work poorly.
  • If you’re multi-tasking to save time and it doesn’t work, how will you find the time to do the work over?

How have you streamlined your own business to operate more efficiently?

  • I keep a constant schedule of workflow to stay on top of it. Even then, work can fall through the cracks.
  • I avoid taking on more work than I can handle.
  • I schedule regular breaks in my day and use that time to catch up on personal matters.
  • I don’t always run an efficient business. There are times when my schedule blows up, but I always get back on track.

Should I get an assistant?

  • Can you afford an assistant? What about a virtual assistant?
  • How would an assistant help you achieve your goals?
  • Where will your business be in 3-6 months if you hired an assistant?
  • Hiring people for your business is a positive sign. Just make sure you’ve done your homework first.

There were also some great small business efficiency tips shared by other participants in the chat. Some notable tips are below.

@Rieva: The #1 time saver, wake up early. If you get a jump on the day before the rest of your world wakes up, you can accomplish a lot.

@LC_Fabulous1: An even more efficient and productive way to stay organized is to replace the to-do-list with a ‘today’ list.

For more insight from the TweetChat, see a list of tweets using the #HiscoxChat hashtag. We’ll host more chats in the future. Visit the Hiscox small business blog for updates about the next chat.

Do you have efficiency tips to share? Leave a comment with your insight and it may appear in a future post on the Hiscox blog.