My Executive Assistants | How We Solve The Top 5 Business Time Wasters
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15 Aug How We Solve The Top 5 Business Time Wasters

Many small businesses are caught in the same conundrum: they don’t have the time to grow their business because they are too busy taking care of existing customers. Often, it comes down to the top 5 business time wasters. Just about every business is guilty of one or more. Here they are and how we solve them:

1. Repetitive Customer Questions
You care about customer service (or you should), so answering customer questions is a big part of your business. However, it is time-consuming and many of the questions are the same ones, over and over again. We solve the problem by adding more information to your website and providing an email template with pre-written responses. In fact, we can design a flow of information, including website and email contact forms, return forms, shipping tracking forms… everything you need and your customers need to keep your business in good working order.

2. Checking Email
Email is one of the biggest productivity traps on the planet, but many businesses don’t realize it. According to a 2011 study by Fonality, small business workers spend 50% of their day on “necessary but unproductive tasks,” including email correspondence and trying to contact customers or colleagues. A more recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that office workers spend 25% of their day (2.6 hours) reading and answering emails, most of which are redundant or could be handled in other ways. At the very least, if your email and that of your staff are set up properly, you won’t have to spend time slogging through irrelevant email. We can do that easily, but we can also set up more sophisticated cloud-based systems, which allow your employees to connect more efficiently with your customers, vendors, and each other.

3. Meetings
Meetings gobble up time like nothing else. The average office worker spends about 16 hours a week in meetings, and about 4 hours of that is wasted time devoted to small talk and irrelevant topics. Face-to-face meetings are important, but they need to be managed like everything else. Remember, time saved in meetings is productive time returned to your company. Forbes has these steps, which we use, to make meetings more efficient:

  1. Have a clear agenda with clear objectives, include salient points such as sales figures, and circulate it in advance so meeting attendees are on the same page and have the information needed to be helpful.
  2. Invite only the key players, because meetings with fewer people tend to be shorter, and send the rest a summary email of what was accomplished. Be sure someone is assigned the task of taking notes and composing the email.
  3. Schedule the meeting for half the time you think you need! When people know the meeting is short, they’ll focus on achieving the goal rather than engaging in banter.
  4. Start on time, no matter what, and after a while people will understand you are prompt and respect you for it.
  5. Hold stand-up meetings, whenever logistically possible. Studies have found that stand-up meetings can achieve most goals in one-third less time, with no loss in the quality of decisions.
  6. Often, there is no need for a face-to-face meeting. Staff memos, for example, can replace many staff meetings. Visual meeting tools can make client and vendor meetings more efficient for both of you; Skype is a very basic one, but free. My Executive Assistants, for example, will usually meet with a client before taking a project, but after that we run our business virtually so we can pass along lower costs to our customers.

4. Multi-Tasking
Believe it or not, people who multi-task are less efficient and productive than people who complete one thing at a time. Studies have shown multi-tasking cuts productivity by 50% and makes people unaware of their own procrastination. Multi-tasking is common in smaller businesses because owners and employees wear many hats. We can take over many of the ongoing, repetitive chores that mire your business in inefficiency, such as data entry and bookkeeping. On average, we save businesses 100 hours a month and cut costs by 50%.

5. Micro-Managing
Small business owners can find it difficult to let others assume responsibility for things to be done in the company. This is natural if you started out as a one-man show, but it hinders the growth of your company and wreaks havoc with employee morale. In a similar vein, small business owners are likely want to do things themselves, instead of delegate. Some business owners have an innate distrust of the ability of others. More often, a business owner thinks doing it himself (or herself) is cheaper than hiring someone else. This can be disastrous when a business owner tackles something in the public eye, like marketing or social media, and botches it. We’ve been doing advertising and marketing for years, and are certified social media experts. We don’t work for free and hopefully neither should you.

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