Updated: Jul 6
There are a lot of decisions that go into running a business. From big choices about your company's direction to daily operational decisions, it can be easy to feel like you're constantly carrying a heavy workload.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks and responsibilities you need to manage, there are some actions you can take to help lighten your load and free up more time to devote to the activities you enjoy. Here are four ideas to get you started.
1. Optimize Costs
Small businesses are staring down their future with significant concerns. In 2022, the percentage of business owners who expressed worry over inflation and business expenses rose from 31% to 54% before Q4.
This is the kind of worry that sits the heaviest among business owners because it isn’t something that can be easily shifted. Many new companies have a tough time staying afloat for their first few years; 20% of small businesses shut their doors after two years of operation, and a surprising 45% go out of business within five years.
The expenses you face may be growing every day, but there are ways to cut costs to avoid over-extending your expenses. By supplementing your budget during strategic periods, you can keep your momentum going. Evaluate your current spending and identify areas of your budget that can be reorganized and adjusted to your business’s needs as you head into each fiscal year.
Some examples of where you can cut back on spending are:
● Taking your business remote
● Closing your storefront, and moving online to an eCommerce model.
● Taking on fewer, but larger-paying accounts
● Switching to contract-based employment for certain roles
There are many ways to cut down on costs, but what if you need to bring in a large amount of income to invest in opportunities that allow your business to grow? Carefully consider how much you’re willing and able to pay on credit card or loan payments each month, research different lines of credit for small businesses, or consider taking on investors as options for bringing in the capital you need.
Once you’ve optimized your expenses and cash flow, you’ll be able to breathe a little easier knowing you aren’t one bill away from having to permanently close your doors.
2. Automating and Streamlining Processes
Obsolete processes are a common area where business owners see most of their time disappear; at this point, they now have little time left for innovation or growth. What may have begun as a necessary process with little to no other options, may now be something that can be completely automated!
To get started, go through your current workflow and identify key areas where you spend the most time. Does it take forever to get your inbox down to zero? Are you constantly having to manually follow up with employees to check on tasks and project statuses? Look into software based on your industry standards for customer service and management programs.
Sometimes all you need is good project management software to help streamline processes and stay in touch with stakeholders to cut execution time significantly. There are great writing programs or A.I. plug-ins that can help you generate copy for marketing content to help respond to common questions with pre-written scripts and alleviate the stress your customer service department may face.
The goal is to find as many ways possible to spend your time doing what you do best, instead of wasting time on necessary but time-consuming tasks.
3. Delegating Work Internally
Burnout is a common theme among business owners, and it can trickle down through the ranks of internal employees. While it’s tempting to think you’re the only one with the passion and drive to get your business where you want it to be, this goal doesn’t have to come at the risk of creating an overworked culture within your company.
When you started your business, it may have been possible to handle most tasks in management, services, fulfillment, and more. Now, it’s time to take the weight off your shoulders and any other leaders who have been with you since day one.
Hire additional employees to split up tasks previously owned by one or two people, and reevaluate everyone’s skillsets to see where they can be more effective by shifting them to new roles or responsibilities. A review of this kind can reveal shortcomings in current staff and, if not remedied, might require letting someone go to replace them with a better-qualified individual.
4. Outsourcing Tasks
You may still shoulder an unnecessary amount of responsibility even after automating processes, redistributing the workload internally, or hiring more people. This source of stress typically happens when you have a skills gap in your company. Often, businesses reach a phase of growth where new departments are required to handle complex tasks that your team can’t address.
It could be that up to this point, you’ve been the only one who handled the finances, but now your business is so large you need to hire an accountant to ensure nothing falls through the cracks during tax season. Perhaps your business needs to create an app to better serve your customers, but no one working in the business is trained to develop one.
Whatever the reason, if you don’t have the bandwidth to learn to code or to spend hours reviewing your accounts while simultaneously running your business, it’s time to outsource duties to people who can help.
Outsourcing is the practice of hiring a person or another company to take care of a task for you. Typically this is for a set amount of time, with a specific project or goal in mind. You can hire anyone from a content writer to help you craft high-quality and interactive content for your customers or an entire marketing firm that handles your social media and paid advertising.
Too often, business owners try to delve into areas of their company where they have little to no knowledge and waste precious time trying to learn or supervise projects. Ultimately, this can lead to ineffective departments and projects because they aren’t under the oversight of someone with the necessary experience.
Deciding to outsource specific tasks can help to free up your time and allow you to focus on other tasks. Doing this can save your budget, as you don’t have to hire a full-time employee to do the job. Automating processes can also help to save you time when it comes to mundane tasks.
Delegating work to capable individuals can help to give you more time to focus on the things you love. Lastly, cutting costs can also help to lighten your workload by eliminating unnecessary expenses, allowing you to focus on more essential tasks.