If there is one statement that holds true for all startup founders regardless of industry, it's this—there just aren't enough hours in the day. Between developing and promoting your product managing finances and fundraising, and overseeing vendors, clients, and employees (not to mention living your personal life), you can’t get it all done in a day. Thankfully, technology can alleviate some of that burden and help you work more efficiently. Here are five ways technology can help you add hours to your day..
1. Automatically track your time
So much of our time is spent figuring out how to manage our time! Time-management programs can help automate this for you. To best learn how to maximize your time, you first need to determine where you waste it. Use a program that monitors the time you and your employees spend on certain activities, such as Toggl, Time Doctor, or Timely. When you take a step back from your work and examine how you spend your day, you might discover more ways to streamline your work. It helps to keep yourself—and your employees—accountable for their time and shows you where efficiencies are needed.
You can take this a step further by locking yourself out of distractions. Some apps allow you to block yourself from time-wasters like social media accounts. Use the same app on your phone. You would be surprised if you knew how much time is wasted just "checking in" to social media, email, or news sites throughout the day.
2. Amp up your phone and internet service
As a business owner, you likely have to duck out of the office and attend meetings, chat with clients, and perform a half-dozen other tasks—and that's just before lunch. You don't have time to wait around for an important call. Run-of-the-mill business phone lines just don't cut it anymore. At the same time, if you use your personal cell phone as your business line, you can say goodbye to work-life balance.
Think about upgrading your business phone to a service that forwards your calls to your mobile device. That way you can always pick up when a client calls your business number, even if you're not at your desk. Another perk of an upgraded phone service is that many of them transcribe voicemails, so rather than listen to a long message, you can glance over it while you're on the move and decide whether it needs your immediate attention.
In addition to your phone service, consider how the quality of your Internet service affects your efficiency. As the number of employees grows or the work you do expands, you may need to upgrade to a service like Comcast Business, so that your bandwidth isn’t at is max or your connection speed isn't bogged down. No one has time to wait for a website to load like it's 1998 with a 56K connection.
3. Automate the most common aspects of your business
Some tasks are so simple yet so time-consuming. Automate these tasks and add time to the clock. One way to do this is with apps like “If This, Then That (IFTTT).” These routines simplify the most common business to-dos by allowing you to set up automatic responses to a given action. Say you receive an email with an attachment from a specific address—like an invoice from a vendor. IFTTT can automatically download the attachment to an “Invoices” folder that you only need to look at once a month.
The most beneficial part of IFTTT is that you don't need a ton of technical experience to make it work. The recipes are set up so that you tie them to an email address and choose to turn them on or off. They take effect immediately, with minimal setup on your part.
4. Streamline office operations
How much time does it take you to set up your office at the start of the day? How many minutes do you spend making coffee, locking up for the night, or arming your security system? These small, day-to-day activities may seem like they take no more than a few seconds at a time, but over weeks and months it adds up from minutes to hours.
Smart technology can be used to streamline your life. With the right combination of connected devices, you can program your office to operate almost completely without you. Program smart lights to come on at a certain time (and go off at another), while a connected coffee maker can brew that morning cup of joe at 6 AM exactly. You have a business to run. Why waste time on things that can be done for you?
5. Keep track of your expenses
Numerous software applications and programs, such as Concur and BizXpenseTracker, allow you to calculate business tax and keep track of your expenses. It's much easier to add up all of your qualifying and deductible expenses throughout the course of a year than it is to do it all at once at the end. Best of all, if you use one of these programs to manage your expenses, the program will add it all up for you—and give you a report to work with at the end of the year.
If you run a startup, these programs are vital for sending reports to investors. You can demonstrate where all of your business expenses are going and how much revenue you earn during a set period of time.
When each hour counts toward growing your bottom line, finding smart ways to maximize your time is essential to your business' success.