It’s common knowledge that small business owners wear multiple hats. It’s part of the excitement and challenge of building your own business. But while it’s fun and rewarding to develop a strategy, work with clients, carry out marketing plans, improve your offerings, and track finances, it’s also time-consuming. Sure, most entrepreneurs can move mountains, but the last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day.
Finding enough time in the day to check off important tasks is a huge challenge for small business owners. Prioritizing and trusting your intuition to determine what needs to be done (and when) is a constant juggling act. Still, even the most intrepid, energetic entrepreneurs can’t keep all those balls in the air forever. Sooner or later, they realize that there’s too much work to be done and not enough time to complete it.
What’s a small business owner to do? Adding hours to the 24-hour day is probably not going to happen, but there are some other alternatives that can allow you to make better use of the time you already have.
SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE TO THE RESCUE
Modern technology has provided us with myriad options for making our lives easier. However, certain advances are particularly helpful for small business owners. One recent change that has been instrumental in helping save time is the advent of software as a service (SaaS). SaaS platforms allow entrepreneurs to pay a small monthly fee for the use of powerful, cutting-edge applications. And SaaS tools are web-based, so the days of loading software or maintaining your own server are over.
Even though there are many types of SaaS systems for businesses, two stand out in saving small business owners time: online appointment scheduling software and marketing automation applications.
ONLINE APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING SYSTEMS
Scheduling, changing, or canceling appointments can be incredibly time-consuming. For most small business owners, these tasks take valuable time out of their day — time that could be spent focusing on bigger-picture issues.
But for many small business owners, the thought of clients and prospects booking directly into their calendars sends a shiver down their spines. Online scheduling software companies know this, so they’ve designed features that provide built-in controls.
Online appointment scheduling programs are rules-based, which means you can regulate who can book with you, when they can book, and what they can book. You maintain full control of your calendar even though you’re letting others schedule directly into it.
Most entrepreneurs who try online booking overcome their fear of lost control quickly, especially when they realize how much time they regain. Plus, your customers will like the convenience of being able to book appointments easily and on their own.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE
Most small business owners aren’t marketing gurus. Even so, marketing is a necessary part of running any business, so it’s one of their key responsibilities. It’s necessary, but it’s also time-consuming, especially if you’re not skilled at it. That’s where marketing automation software comes in.
Systems like HubSpot, Hatchbuck, and others enable you to create set-it-and-forget-it emails that contact your clients and prospect on a preset schedule, such as when a prospective client signs up for your mailing list. These types of tools also allow you to send regular newsletters or one-time email blasts. Another benefit is the systems’ ability to provide detailed analytics on your marketing campaigns, letting you easily track each initiative’s effectiveness without spending a lot of time compiling data.
FIND THE RIGHT SOFTWARE VENDOR AND START SAVING TIME
Whether you decide to move forward with a marketing automation system, an online scheduling application, or a different time-saving tool, selecting the right one is critical. Software applications can vary greatly, so be sure to properly analyze your options.