What do small business owners sacrifice most in running their enterprises? “Time for myself” was reported by 57 percent of 1,300 small business respondents to a 2012 survey reported in the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Following that response were 37 percent who said they give up keeping physically fit and 18 percent who forego maintaining healthy relationships with a spouse or partner.
These statistics show how consuming small business ownership can be. Along with those sacrifices comes a lot of stress that can undermine not only an owner’s health but ultimately—and most ironically—the health of their business, too. That’s because stress can lead to short tempers, general crankiness and impatience, all of which can turn-off both employees, causing their turnover, and customers, causing them to go elsewhere.
So, what kinds of practical, work-day things can small business owners do to keep stress away? Here are three ideas:
• Establish systems. Every business, small and large, has routine procedures for getting work done, but they’re often not documented or practiced systematically. In fact, a multibillion-dollar, global industry called “ISO 9000” arose decades ago around the simple rule, “document what you do and do what you document.”
Problem is, small businesses often do the same thing uniquely each time, when they might take a hard look at eliminating the steps involved and follow the streamlined procedure each time thereafter. Even saving 15 minutes a day over a 300-day year is 75 hours—enough to take some time for yourself perhaps?
Systems can be as simple as checklists for opening and closing a store, a log book for phone messages, or your daily login procedure for the cash register. Sit with your employees and brainstorm everyone’s daily activities to determine those that may be totally unproductive (to be eliminated); marginally productive (decide if it’s worth keeping); and highly productive (systematize, if not already). Also, you could try to contact owners of successful, long-standing small businesses in your area about the systems they use to save time and get more done each day.
• Delegate. If you have employees, use them. This seems like common sense, but many small business owners don’t use employees to their fullest potential. They think they’re too young, too lazy, lacking experience, or don’t have the smarts. In some cases, these might be true but more often than not, employees want to expand their responsibilities because doing so makes them feel more important and part of something bigger than themselves. So, take a serious inventory of everything you do as a small business owner. Then assign the easiest tasks to your employees. Remember, just saving 15 minutes a day adds up fast.
• Outsource. Whether small business owners know it or not, all of them outsource part of their operations. Electricity, for example, is outsourced to the local utility. Trash pickup is likely outsourced to a waste hauler. Finances might be outsourced to a bookkeeper. But the task many small business owners overlook for outsourcing is cash management.
Why? Because they consider cash too critical to delegate or outsource. Or, they’ve never checked out just what it costs. Fact is, turning cash management over to Garda’s professionals can cost not much more than monthly trash pickup. And it can save a small business owner as much as 30 minutes or more each day—as much as 150 hours or more a year. Plus it’s much more secure. To find out more, check out Garda's CashLINK, a closed-loop system that controls cash from point-of-sale to bank deposit, or Garda’s armored transport and coin services, visit garda.com/cashlogistics.