When you’re a kid, it can feel like time is stretched out, never-ending, slow like honey. Especially when you’re grounded or waiting for school to end. But as adults, we don’t have that problem. Time just flies. That’s especially true for business owners, who have the herculean task of getting three days worth of work done in a single 24 hour period.
It would be a lot cooler if we were here to share a time-slowing or stopping secret with you — and if we did, this post would probably go viral — but we’re realists. We know we can’t alter our reality or yours, but we can certainly make use of time-saving tools, tactics, and apps to make it seem like we’re slowing and stretching time. And that’s good enough for us.
So what are some of the best time-saving tools, tactics, and apps for business owners?
Managing your business & your customer data
Running a business is never easy, but with the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, it can be easier. Tools like Housecall Pro and Jobber allow you to easily manage your team, send quotes, schedule, send invoices, and get paid. Both also sync with Quickbooks, saving you the extra step of adding the numbers after a job is done. If you’re ready to save hundreds of hours and free up some time, you need a good CRM, so check these guys out.
Keeping your eyes on the numbers
Every growing business needs accounting software that will grow with it. That’s where Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and other similar tools come in. Easily track income and expenses, send estimates, send invoices and accept payments, organize receipts, manage bills, track time, and more. If you’ve been living spreadsheet to spreadsheet, save yourself time and headache by switching to accounting software. Plans are affordable and there’s something for every business, regardless of size.
Managing company files, data, and SOPs, while using a professional company email address
GSuite is Google’s solution to data and storage management, but it also allows you to create multiple “@yourcompany.com” email addresses so any customer-facing employees can send professional looking emails to customers (for example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also create group mailing lists, manage mobile devices (even erase data), and store important company documents that your team needs access to on the go.
Communicating with your team
Communication only gets harder with each employee added, but with the right tools, team communication can be simplified. Need to alert your whole team to a change or issue or create specific groups? Even if you’re out on the job and don’t have time to take off your gloves and type it all up, there are ways to get the message out there to everyone you need to communicate with. For text-based communication, there are apps like Slack and GroupMe, and for voice-based communication with the option for text, try Voxer. All three allow you to share photos and videos and communicate with groups or individuals, but Voxer and GroupMe also allow you to share your location, which is a bonus for service area businesses.
Managing HR & benefits
Everyone knows HR can be a real headache, and the more employees you have, the harder things get. But with GoCo, an all-in-one HR platform, it’s easy to manage payroll, time off, benefits, etc. You’ll have all of your employee information in one place, and there’s even a built-in compliance component so you know your butt is covered.
Managing team and personal tasks, lists, and projects
No one wants to micromanage, but every business owner wants to know what’s getting done, when, and by whom. That’s where project management platforms like Trello, Wunderlist, Teamwork, and Monday come in. Trello allows you to create boards, lists, and cards, and is great for visualizing where you are in a process and what’s next. Wunderlist is great for creating and assigning lists and tasks, and setting reminders for yourself or others. You can also add due dates, comments, and tags. With Teamwork, you can create projects, assign and check off tasks, comment, and view workflow by individual, due date, and project. You can also set it up so that email notifications go out to the responsible individual every time a task is assigned to them. Monday is similar, but what makes this great is that you can view things six different ways, so no matter how you prefer to conceptualize projects in your mind, Monday can accommodate.
The best news? All of these platforms are accessible from your phone, desktop, or tablet, so no matter where you are, you can see what’s going on and what needs to be done.
Managing your time
Need to buckle down and spend some time in the office? Wondering how long your day-to-day tasks take? While some of the tools we’ve already listed have time-tracking features, if you’re looking for a tool that does that and that alone, try Pomodoro Tracker, Tomato Timers, Toggl, or TomatoTimer. All of these apps are based on the Pomodoro Technique for productivity, and break down work into intervals with short breaks. Great for hunkering down, focusing, and getting higher-quality work done. Plus, they help you get an idea of how long each task takes, so you can better plan and schedule in the future.
Managing social posts
A lot of business owners hate the social media aspect of business management, but you’ve got to be where people are looking and engage with your customers and potential customers. That means you need to be regularly posting on the social media channels that make sense for your business.
But figuring out what you’re going to post on social and making sure it gets scheduled and posted doesn’t have to be super time-consuming. Tools like Canva make it easy to create graphics and find photos for social posts, and Hootsuite and Buffer make scheduling, posting, and analyzing performance/engagement simple and fast. So if you’ve been overwhelmed trying to manage social media in-house, rest assured, there’s help.
Managing trip details and hotel arrangements for conventions, expos, and that dream vacay
The devil’s in the details, and whether you’re trying to keep track of your own travel arrangements or the arrangements of several people from your team, it’s easy to miss something, lose something, and get overwhelmed. Take the stress out of things by using a tool like Tripit. Simply forward all of your booked arrangements to email@example.com and receive a master itinerary that’s accessible from any device. The pro version even allows you to receive real-time flight alerts, locate alternate flights, find out if a better seat is available, get fare refund notifications, share plans, and track rewards. Forget about printing all the details and fumbling through your bag to find the information you need. Keep it all together with Tripit.
Managing your knowledge and growth
As a business owner, it can be hard to find the time to invest in learning and growing as an individual and a leader on top of everything else. And it can also be hard to ask your team to invest in growth when they already have packed schedules. But thanks to podcasts and apps like Audible, it’s easy to learn and grow on the go.
Driving to or from a job? Sitting in traffic? You and your team can make use of this otherwise wasted time by listening to an audiobook or podcast and adding to your knowledge. Now, there are no more excuses for why you didn’t finish that business book. You can even pay for Audible memberships for employees as incentives!
Managing follow-ups and open estimates
While CRMs like Housecall Pro and Jobber can help you send invoices and quotes, you still have to manually take care of the follow-up. That means either setting aside time every week to go through the stack of open estimates, make calls, and send emails, or just hoping that anyone who’s interested will eventually call to schedule. Neither is a very good option, and you could end up leaving some big money on the table if you’re doing things that way.
Closing Commander is a system that automatically follows up with every customer you add up to 7 times, and makes it easy to track opens, responses, and won bids all in one dashboard. The best part? All emails come from and go to your business email address, so nothing looks automated or spammy, and you won’t miss a single message. Save time, close more estimates, and know the follow-up is getting done.
Now Go Forth & Save Time
Well, that about wraps it up! We could, of course, make this list longer, but this is all about time-savings, so why would we? Thanks for sticking it out with us, and let us know in the comments what your favorite time-saving tools and tactics are!