Entrepreneurs are often their own worst critics. At some point you’ve probably thought to yourself, I’m not doing enough or I can do this better. I've GOT to learn how to be more efficient at work.
We only have 24 hours in a day. Even with our best intentions, our task lists are never 100% complete. And then you go to bed feeling guilty because there’s more to do.
This is a challenge that many business owners are all too familiar with. However, it’s important to understand that more work isn’t the answer. Rather, it’s how you manage your time that leads to greater work satisfaction and prosperity.
If you find yourself frustrated and strapped for time, you might have three problems sapping your work efficiency. Identifying these problems in your own business will also help you learn how to be more efficient at work.
Three Truth Bombs About Your Business
What happens when you’re bombarded with new projects to start, emails to answer, and useless appointments to keep?
You lose sight of your company’s vision. You fail to fulfill your business’s purpose.
And how can you? You’re short on time. Low on energy. Overloaded with work and stress.
If you’re unhappy about how you feel about your business, you might be spending your time inefficiently. Are you committing any of these efficiency killers?
1. Your Goals Are Unclear
Operating your business without establishing your goals and priorities is like trying to exit a room wearing a blindfold. You might make it to the exit, but you’ll probably make some unnecessary stumbles along the way.
Setting clear goals helps you cross-reference what you’re doing with where you want your business to be. If there’s any disparity, you might be working on the wrong thing.
2. You’re Not Charging Enough
If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are that you want to work less and live more. The easiest solution to working less is to charge more. If you want to steadily decrease the hours you were per week while making the same amount (or more), this is the most efficient way to accomplish that.
Also, more time means more freedom. You have more space to think about your business and more time to devote to your clients.
3. You’re Busy, but Not Productive
The first step to learning how to be more productive at work is distinguishing busywork and productive work. The majority of your time should be serving your client. You’ll be shocked to learn how time-sucking administrative work can stunt your business’ growth.
Evaluate How You’re Spending Your Time
These three things all return to how you’re spending your time. Are you doing the important things that will scale your business? Or are you wasting it on tasks you can eliminate or outsource?
Below is a breakdown of the steps you need to know on how to be more efficient at work.
Step #1: Determine Your Priorities
Many entrepreneurs probably have this on their list of business goals: make more, work less.
But let’s explore this goal a little more. Is it that you want to work less overall? Or maybe it’s that you want to work less on all the stuff you don’t want to do.
Let’s assume that you run a consulting business but struggle with publishing regular content. You’re annoyed about constantly networking to find new clients. Also, you’re too overwhelmed to even consider building an email list.
Those are the things that you don’t like to do. So, what would you rather do instead? What made you decide to launch a business?
For a consulting business, that might look like working with more high-paying clients to improve their businesses.
Identify that reason and figure out how you can do more of that. If business coaching is your true passion, then do your best to not bury that passion under administrative busywork.
So, your first step: determine what your priorities are.
Step #2: Raise Your Rates
Telling small business owners to raise their rates is sure to trigger sweaty palms and nervous twitching.
It’s scary to raise your rates, but why? If you raise your rates, what could happen?
- Your client decides to terminate your services or
- Your client agrees to your higher rate.
We’re afraid that our clients will fire us, we’ll go broke, and the sky will come crashing down. Okay, maybe not the third scenario but you get it: we always imagine the worst.
However, you can’t operate your business from a place of fear, not if you ever want to thrive.
Because think about what happens when you raise your rates.
Yes, some clients may fire you but some clients will retain your services. More importantly, you’ll have more time. You’ll have more time to devote to the clients that stick around, the quality of your business skyrockets, and you make space for higher-paying clients.
You build efficient work habits because you can dedicate more time to refining your skills and working on your business.
Before Your Raise Your Rates…
Raising your rates should be something you prepare for. Before you raise your rates, you should consider having the following in place:
- A healthy savings account: The reality is that you might suffer a temporary loss of revenue when some clients cannot agree to your higher rates. Having some savings to cushion the financial dip will help you out.
- You’ve chosen a niche: The specialist often charges more than the generalist because the specialist have a specific skill set. A bakery that specializes in wedding cakes probably charges more than an off-the-shelf cake at a general bakery. When you choose a niche, you can command a higher rate.
- Your current rates are steady: If you find that you’ve been getting ongoing business at your current rate, it may be a good time to increase your rate. Your increased experience and refined skills should command a higher rate.
Email Your Clients About Your Increased Rate
The Drafts folder is often a virtual limbo where emails that you should be sending get stuck. When you’re emailing your clients about raising your rates, don’t let it get stuck in virtual limbo.
So, what should you include in your email?
- Summarize your work history: Reciting your extensive and fruitful relationship reminds your client why your services have been so valuable to them.
- Emphasize increased quality: With more time on your hands, you can deliver increased value to your clients. Exceptional clients will understand that this is a business decision and will accommodate your higher rate.
- Offer advanced notice: You’ll want to offer at least one to two month’s notice when increasing your rates. This gives your client ample opportunity to adjust to your new rate.
All that’s left is to press Send. (Again, very important you actually press that Send button!).
(Ah, working more at premium rates and working less for peanuts. Sounds like an excellent adjustment, yes?)
Step #3: Eliminate (or Outsource) the Busywork
When you’re operating a business, many time-consuming, but low-return tasks will pop up like moles. You know what they look like: answering emails, data entry, bookkeeping. And the more your business grows, the more you’ll see of these pesky moles.
Even if we carve more time after raising our rates, it’s too easy for busywork to occupy your newly reclaimed time. We get bogged down in all the stuff we don’t want to do. That’s why you must be vigilant about distinguishing the busywork from your life’s work.
Start by identifying all the mental clutter that blocks you from doing more of what you want in your business:
I’m too busy finding new clients. I’m thinking about starting a podcast. I need to plan an online membership on my website. I’m researching conventions to attend. Networking is devouring my schedule.
While all of these can be important at certain stages of your business, it’s best to secure your foundation before building on top of it.
If your business is financial coaching, then coaching your clients should be where you spend the bulk of your time. Refine your skills and after you’ve developed a stable revenue stream, then you can pursue other projects to expand your brand, like podcasting or publishing more content.
The Power of Outsourcing
After identifying your busywork, start outsourcing it to third party agencies. Outsourcing is a great way to reclaim your time while fulfilling necessary business operations. In fact, 24% of small businesses outsource to increase work efficiency.When you’re seeking to outsource some of your business operations, you should consider the following:
- The task is easy and repetitive: This can be screening and responding to emails or basic data entry.
- You need to consult an expert: As a business owner, you don’t know everything. Sometimes you’ll need to rely on a marketing expert or a lawyer to advance your business.
- A team of specialists will better serve you: Sometimes it’s more efficient to outsource a certain business operation, like accounting or customer service, rather than hiring and training in-house staff.
How to Be More Efficient At Work: The Bottom Line
Increasing your business efficiency is more than introducing a couple of productivity hacks. It’s about executing business decisions that revolutionize how you spend your time.
Learning how to increase work efficiency is simpler than you might have thought: get paid more and work less.
But simple answers can be difficult to execute. If you’re still conflicted, remember that your business’s mission is to serve your customers. You better serve your customers when you have more time and energy to dedicate to your business.
Remember: In a competitive market, your best weapons for a thriving business are always quality service and satisfied clients.
Still figuring out which clients you want to serve? Download our free guide to help you identify your first product.