Running a home business is a lot like plate spinning. There are so many tasks that you need to keep going at one time, and failing to pay proper attention to any one task can result in something breaking. This is especially true if you’re a solopreneur that has to wear all the hats in the business including bookkeeper, marketing manager, product/service supplier, customer support, and more.
While hiring virtual support can help, if you’re not at a place where you can outsource work, and even if you are, you can save time and money by adopting a few hacks to help you run your business.
Here are 16 hacks to help you achieve home business success.
Use a Second Monitor
There are several benefits to having a second computer monitor in your home business, such as:
- Reducing or eliminating the number of open tabs in your browser, which can slow your computer down
- Making it easier to refer to resources needed to complete your work
- Increase ROI by thousands of dollars each year, according to a 2005 Pfeiffer Report
- Increase productivity up to 42 percent, according to Jon Peddy Research
- Fewer errors, as found in a study by the University of Utah and NEC, which also provides information on the best screen size and resolution to maximize your results
Of course, most computers now allow you to split your screen; however, even on a large monitor, the smaller size of the added screens may not help you achieve your goal of getting things done faster.
Delete Phone Apps
In Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, authors Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky make a bold suggestion of deleting phone apps. This includes social media, email, games, and web browser.
If you travel or need to use your phone to do business, this may not work for you. However, you should take a serious look at how often you use your phone, for what, and if you really need to do it. When you’re working on your business, unless you’re conducting it through your phone, you don’t need the distractions that phone apps bring.
Turn off Notifications
You may not be able to delete your phone apps, but at the very least, you can turn off notifications. The truth is, in business and in life, you don’t need to be “on” 24/7. Further, when you are working on your business, you should focus on the task and goals at hand, and not be distracted that a Facebook message has come through. While you’re at it, turn off your phone ringer. Anyone who calls can leave a message.
Don’t just turn off phone notifications, but also, turn them off on your computer.
Is your inbox inundated with newsletters, ads, and more? While you may have wanted to sign up for these resources initially, if you’re not reading the content being sent, these emails just litter your inbox. You end up wasting time deleting them.
Use a tool like, Unroll Me, which will unsubscribe you from emails that you don’t want, and delivers the subscriptions you do want in a daily digest, which you can schedule to read at one time.
Stay Focused on the Work at Hand
There are a ton of tools that will block you from web surfing and other online distractions. You set a timer and all you can do is work (unless you decide to let laundry distract you). A few you can test are SelfControl and StayFocused.
Reduce and Automate Social Media
Social automation tools have been around for a while and are helpful in scheduling your posts. However, even with tools, social media can end up taking the time that could be better spent doing something else.
Do a social media plan revamp to make sure you’re using it and its accompanying tools to the max. Choose two to three platforms that are bringing you results and drop the others. Will you lose some business? Maybe. But if you rock the few you do, you’ll make up for that loss.
Once you have the few platforms you’re going to focus on, choose tools that offer the most and easiest automation. Some things to consider include:
- Works with the platforms you use
- Bulk loading of posts
- Reposting or recycling of evergreen content
- Browser app for easy sharing across platforms
Make Your Website Work Harder
While direct contact with your potential clients and customers is important, you don’t want to waste time answering questions and delivering information that your website can do for you. Some things your site can do for you include:
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Make appointments
- Take surveys
- Collect forms
- Manage pre-sale and customer service questions with a tool like Quriobot
- Provide meeting and event times and locations
- And more
Get Apps to Work Together
There are more and more all-in-one services or tools that integrate to help you in your business, but sometimes, there are tools that you want to work together that don’t. When apps don’t work together, it often means more work for you to get things done.
Using a service like IFTTT, allows you to create integrations between a variety of apps including Gmail, Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Slack and more. You can even use it connect your appliances and car if they have apps. Basically, IFTTT works by having a trigger (if this happens) and an action (then this should happen) Examples of IFTTT recipes include:
- If you take an Instagram photo, send it to Dropbox
- If you get an email from a specific person, send an SMS to the phone
The number of recipes you can create is endless. If you find yourself wishing that one digital task could automatically be sent to another, check out IFTTT.
Zapier is another workflow automation tool that works with tons of apps, and like IFTTT works on triggers that generate action.
If you find yourself writing the same types of things over and over, it’s time to create a template. For example, if you answer the same email questions all the time, create a template of that answer. If you use HARO to solicit publicity, create a template that has your media information so all you have to is add the pitch specific info your query.
You can use templates in blogs (WordPress has plugins to duplicate or copy a post as well), invoices, and more.
Make Scheduling Easy
As previously mentioned, your website can become your appointment maker. You can use tools such as Calendly, Assistant.to or BoomerangCalendar that allow your leads and clients to schedule appointments.
Get Your Calls Anywhere
While you don’t want to feel compelled to respond to your phone 24/7, there may be times that you need to be available. You can use a tool like Grasshopper to route incoming calls to mobile or home phone lines or your Skype account.
Automate Supply Delivery
If you find you go through a lot of supplies and have to run out to the office store to restock, consider setting up an automated delivery. Both Staples and Office Depot have subscription services that will automatically send you supplies. Amazon has a recurring delivery for its business accounts, as well.
If you use a lot of ink and have a wi-fi printer, you can sign up for HP Instant Ink which will deliver new printer cartridges to you before you run out.
Use Digital Signatures
Avoid printing, scanning, and emailing (or faxing) of signed documents by using RightSignature, which emails files needing signatures, and receives the signed documents in the same account.
Find Your Stuff Faster
Do you ever lose your keys and they are late to an important meeting? Can’t find your laptop bag? If you’re often late or frustrated because you can’t find your stuff, consider adding a tracker.
Tile offers trackers you can attach to just about anything, keys, phone, bags, tablets and more. When you can’t find the item, tap the corresponding option on your phone and the tracker will ring or give you a location if you left it somewhere else. If you lose your phone, you can tap the tracker (i.e. on your keychain) and your phone will ring, even if you’ve set it on silent.
End Trips to the Post Office
If you’re an e-commerce business that has to ship a lot, you can save time by having your delivery service pick up your package for you. Both the United States Postal Service and United Parcel Service offer package pickup.
Even if you don’t ship a lot, you can still save time on your business (and personal) mailing needs by ordering stamps online. For bills, consider using your online banking service to pay and mail them, or set up automatic withdrawals or other digital payment options.
If you send greeting cards to thank your clients, wish them a happy birthday or some other reason, you can save on stamps and trips to the post office by creating your greeting cards online with a company that will print and mail them, such as Postable or Overnight Prints.
Have Someone Else Take Care of Errands and Busy Tasks
A virtual assistant service such as Fancy Hands allows you to use an assistant as needed for things like scheduling appointments, research, and more.
Using a service like TaskRabbit, you can have someone run errands, as well as take care of home projects like furniture assembly or heavy lifting.
The more you can get done in the least amount of time means more time for money making tasks or with your family. Many of these hacks are free so there’s no reason not to try them. Some hacks take some time to set up, but once you do, they’ll save you time and allow you to avoid tedious tasks.