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Jan
23

3 Ways to Save Time Running Your Home-Based Business

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When you run your own business, time is a precious commodity — and it’s often a scarce one. These days, the average business owner works nearly 50 hours a week, and more than 6 in 10 business owners work 50 or more hours a week, an Alternative Board survey found. Talk about working the midnight oil.

But one proven strategy to win back time is making better use of business technology tools. Here are three ways you can use technology to save time running your home-based business.

1. Simplify Your Communication Approach

Writing and responding to emails can be one of your biggest time sucks. Today, the average executive estimates they spend roughly 20 percent of their day checking and answering work-related email.

One way to reduce time constantly checking your inbox is by making better use of email tools. Filters can serve as your most fundamental email management tool, enabling you to keep spam from reaching your inbox and allowing you to automatically categorize incoming emails and file them in subfolders. Flagging emails can also help you prioritize messages that require a response — separate from the ones that can be filed away or deleted.

Dealing with email overload? Entrepreneur and time management guru Tim Ferriss recommends monitoring your inbox but not answering the bulk of your messages for one day. This way, you can take the time to identify what types of emails you typically receive and how often you should answer them. You can then schedule two peak periods a day to answer emails, saving the rest of your day to focus on other tasks.

Another way to save time is by adopting communication alternatives to email. Digital tools like Slack, Yammer and Facebook’s Workplace are designed to replace email and provide a more comprehensive avenue for chat and project management. These tools make it easy for workplace teams to view and respond to messages in real time, as well as keep shared files in sync.

2. Automate Your Bookkeeping Tasks

Bookkeeping is another drain on business owners’ time. Most business owners spend more than 40 hours a year — the equivalent of a full work week — on bookkeeping tasks such as payroll administration and tax preparation. This leads many business owners to dread bookkeeping, with 58 percent listing it as their least favorite aspect of running a business.

One way to reduce time in this arena is by automating your data entry through cloud-based accounting software. In particular, cloud-based accounting tools like QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks and Xero allow you to automatically pull data from your sales transactions, business expense reports, payroll and other areas of your business. This can save you tremendous time on tasks such as tax preparation.

3. Outsource Your Customer Service to the Cloud

Keeping up with customer service can be another challenge for home-based small-business owners. Online businesses typically fail to answer 50 percent of customer service inquiries, according to the Online Marketing Institute. In addition to reflecting a time management problem, this can lead to customer dissatisfaction, lost business and damage to your business reputation.

But one winning strategy for keeping up with your customer service workload is by using a cloud call center solution, which can outsource these tasks to remote employees. A cloud contact center provides a virtual platform that lets your service reps field inquiries from any location.

Cloud call center solutions also allow your live agents to use a single interface to manage customer inquiries from various channels, saving your staff as well as your customers time by avoiding the need to repeat information as conversations move from one channel to another.

Adopting streamlined communications tactics, using automated cloud-based bookkeeping and outsourcing your customer service through a cloud call center are three ways to save time running your home-based business. By implementing these strategies, you can spend less time on unproductive activities, leaving you more freedom to concentrate on activities that can grow your business and increase your profits.

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