Bike Shop Management

Easy ways for store owners to save time this year

I grew up in a town of 1,500 people. Every summer our butcher shop closed for a week over the 4th of July, so we would pre-bulk on brats and summer sausage to ensure our meat supply survived their short vacation.

- Elisabeth F. | Contributing Writer | Small Business Finance Expert

Eslisabeth F.
Author & Retail Expert
While the above scenario sounds rather idyllic, it’s not common practice. Many small business owners never take time off due to endless to-do lists and fear of lost sales. Small business owners in the U.S. make many sacrifices. One of the biggest sacrifices made by entrepreneurs is lack of personal time. With bills to pay and orders to ship, family life and personal time get shorted. 

In a recent survey of 400 small business owners by Kabbage, participants admitted to rarely taking vacation. 60% took just one vacation a year and 75% still worked while on vacation. About 25% took only two vacation days a year.

In addition to not taking vacations, nearly a third of small business owners worked over 50 hours a week and over half worked on a major holiday. Not only are they working on holidays, they’re making unhealthy lifestyle choices. Many small business owners end up skipping doctor and dentist appointments and eating the majority of their meals out. 

If this sounds familiar, keep reading. We’re going to offer a few easy ways for you to take back control of your personal time while continuing to operate your small business.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!

With tasks and questions coming at you left and right, you need to hone your skills as a prioritizer. Do the most important tasks first. Don’t even waste mental energy on unessential tasks. 

While it might be “in character” for the owner of a business to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty to shovel their own sidewalk – is it worth it to pay someone to shovel for you? Probably. Same for cleaning. Consider hiring a cleaning service instead of doing it yourself. An hour or two a week really (really) adds up.

Think about it this way:

If you spent 2 hours a day lifting weights – in a year you would be undeniably stronger. As a business owner or manager, if you spend an hour or two a day on cleaning, filing, or doing general administrative work, is it making your business stronger?

Set and Keep Deadlines in Organized Manner

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the barrage of deadlines and tasks streaming at you. But with a little bit of time upfront, you can be in total control. Use an online to-do program like Todoist and keep track of everything you’re working on. Give deadlines. And stay on top of it.

Plan Vacation Time Into Your Schedule

As an owner of a small business, no one is going to offer you vacation. You have to determine what’s most important to you and seek after it. If you want a vacation, you have to schedule it. Things won’t slow down. You have to allow yourself time to relax. 

Figure Out How to Search Effectively 

This may seem minor, but the majority of filing and record keeping is now online. You need to learn how to find things quickly. Some companies utilize formal naming conventions. Others perfect their ability to search. Rather than scrolling through pages and pages of your inbox looking for that one email, learn how to type in the right words to find it instantly. This helps on platforms like Google Drive as well.

Don’t Waste Time on Social Media

It’s easy to get distracted in this digital age.

In 2019, the average person spent about 2 hours a day on social media. 2 hours!

To stay productive, don’t open social media accounts on your phone while at work. Consider asking an employee to manage social media for you. If you must manage it, make sure to schedule time in your day and stick to an allotted time limit. 

No self control? Try a browser extension like StayFocusd (Google Chrome).

And most important of all, Delegate!

Depending on your company size and industry, this may or may not be an option for you. But wherever you can, find ways to delegate. Train employees to order supplies or let them perform month-end procedures. In many cases, not only will you save time, you’ll give employees more purpose which eventually leads to retention. (We don’t need to tell you how time consuming hiring can be!)

By prioritizing and streamlining, you can carve out time in your day for the essential. Be in control of your schedule. Maintain clear expectations and be kind to yourself. Protecting your time will benefit you and your business in the long run.