How to work smarter, not harder: three productivity tips for small business success

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As a small business owner the management of your building business can quickly become stressful. The list of responsibilities seems to literally grow by the minute – business development, cashflow management, client and project deadlines are only the tip of the iceberg.

Productivity specialist and Principal Consultant at Lingford Consulting, Geoff Prior explains, “the challenge for small business owners is often keeping the business ticking along while simultaneously working on business improvements and marketing.”

“I find most small businesses suffer because they are too busy working in the business, not on the business,” says Geoff.

To combat the deadline-driven nature of the building and construction industry and allow yourself some time to work on business development, marketing and growth strategies, here are a few tried and tested tricks of the trade.

1) Make a to-do list

A to-do list is organisation 101. One of the most utilised tips, Geoff says it’s a favourite because it works!

Clear your brain of clutter by simply writing out a list of everything that you need to get done. Then, make the most out of your time each day by selecting just two or three things to prioritise and place these at the top of your list.

“I create a to-do list every morning. The top three things are what I aim to achieve that day. Everything else is simply a bonus,” says Geoff.

“The fact is, when there isn’t a clear focus most of us will pick and choose to complete the easy stuff while the tasks that may be slightly more difficult or time consuming are left to the side.”

2) Lock it in the calendar

Make time to plan for the future of your business by blocking out time for this activity in the work calendar.

“By placing a meeting on the calendar it assumes a higher level of importance,” explains Geoff.

“Take this time to work on your marketing strategy, the improvement of your website content or business development. Update your online photo gallery or contact past clients to request a testimonial.”

“If you don’t make a time for these tasks in the calendar you run the risk of never making them a priority.”

Remember, for the best results stick to achieving one task per meeting! Biting off more than you can chew can leave you feeling stressed with little ticked off the list.

3) Consider outsourcing

If you have the budget, don’t be afraid to outsource – website content, a marketing strategy, accounting or even writing your business plan can all be undertaken by an expert who will get the job done right, and faster.

“There are many factors that work together to help your business grow. Outsourcing can provide you with a time and cost effective means to focus on the future of your business while also nurturing your current client base,” says Geoff.

And finally…always maintain a strategic focus

Although it can be easy to drift into a daily routine, managing the numerous challenges that come with each build and client, a strategic focus can help you to get the most from your building business in the long term.

“Taking time out to plan for the future of your business is vital. Stop and think about what is important in the long term and be strategic about what you need to achieve next for business success,” says Geoff.

Start by considering your current client base and then determine what exactly is creating revenue and where the bulk of your expenditures lie. The closer you are able to align your business model to match the needs of current and prospective clients, the better.

“By taking the time to step back and examine factors such as cashflow, client needs and competition you are better placed to understand what changes you could implement to benefit your existing customers and identify any possibilities for expansion.”