This article was originally published on Fairfax Media.

Running a small business is a challenging proposition. Owners are often stretched thin handling a multitude of tasks, meaning work days are long.

But there are a number of hacks to start, scale and grow if you know where to look. Here are 10 small business hacks to help streamline and even automate processes within your small business.

1. Pomodoro

It’s so easy to get bogged down and distracted when you’re dealing with a million things, which is why the Pomodoro technique is so handy. This simple productivity method encourages you to work in 25 minute bursts to bolster productivity, then have a five minute break. Once you’ve completed this technique four times, you can take a longer break of 20 minutes. You can repeat the process a few times over the course of a work day.

2. Deputy

Managing staff can be the most difficult element of running a small business, which is why so many are turning to Deputy to optimise rosters, calculate wage costings, capture and records time and employee attendance and even utilises facial recognition for clock-on.

“The struggle of wanting to be in control but unable to navigate these complex decisions without all the facts and permutations to hand, has long been a pain-point.

“With Deputy’s auto-scheduling, small businesses have full control and visibility over their roster and team, without having to personally make the hard decisions about what is best for the business,” co-founder and CEO Ashik Ahmed says.

Productivity Small Business

3. G Suite

Trying to run your business with a number of technology players can be inefficient. A program like G Suite (formerly known as Google apps) offers flexible pay-by-the-month pricing which can be tailored to your small business. G Suite includes email, mobile device management, data migration and storage. This is great as your small business staffing levels fluctuate due to utilising contractors and freelancers.

4. Norton

Small businesses often have less complex IT needs, making Norton Security for Professionals a great fit.

The technology delivers the same security trusted by the world’s top companies, and the ability to add devices one at a time, when new protection is needed.

Norton also helps to protect business technology against viruses, ransomware, malware, spam and other online threats.

Productivity hacks small business

5. Social media scheduling

There’s a number of tools out there that enables small business owners to batch their social media scheduling, meaning you don’t have to make time to post to social media throughout the working day. Look for tools like Grum, Plann, HootSuite, MeetEdgar, TweetDeck, Bugger and SproutSocial. Facebook also has a free scheduling tool in the dropdown box next to your post’s Publish button. Also consider outsourcing the scheduling to a freelance social media expert, which can be very cost-effective.

6. Wrike

Managing projects within a small business can be a challenge, so a tool that keeps everyone on the same page is paramount. Melbourne PR and communications firm Greenpoint Media trialled ActiveCollab and Asana, before settling on Wrike. “It was the most streamlined and easiest to use. It offers a clean dashboard option, so we can view all the tasks on the team’s list for the day, and what their week as a whole looks like,” director Nicola Trotman says.

Wrike also allows the business to mark off tasks as they’re done, revealing what’s been completed each day, week and month.

7. Square

A growing number of Australian SMEs are turning to Square to accept card payments, handle online invoicing, inventory management, real time analytics and data reporting.

Coffee brewer Sensory Lab has been part of the bustling speciality scene since 2009 and utilises Square. “It was invaluable to have access to a system that would accommodate and grow with us. The ability to manage pricing, menu information and sales through one connected system has been hugely beneficial,” store manager Joshua Kite says.

Square also integrates with a number of other tech partners including Xero, Quickbooks, WooCommerce, Wix and Acuity for rostering.

8. Canva

There are times you can outsource graphic design to a freelancer, but sometimes, you can handle it yourself with Canva. This website allows you to create free graphics, or pay a fee for the premium version if you utilise it more often. This tool is especially useful for menu updates, a service prospectus, notices, social media images and more.

Productivity hacks ServiceM8

9. ServiceM8

Managing work flow via Service M8 has enabled Pristine Professional Cleaning to manage strong growth in recent months.

The Perth eco-friendly business had plateaued at nine staff, with owner Satya Bourgeot admitting existing systems were hampering his expansion plans.

“It was an endless scramble between all the systems I had in place, and we had thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices each week to show for it,” Bourgeot says.

Implementing Service M8 has helped the business double in size. The cloud-based software helps manage all aspects of work including scheduling, quoting, job management, invoicing and payment.

10. Boomerang

It’s easy to get stuck scrolling through your inbox. Like smartphones, we’ve become addicted to answering emails and it can kill productivity.

Consider pausing emails to tend to other areas of the business. Check out Boomerang, which will pause your inbox so you only check it a few times a day.

To make things easier to run your business, Vodafone has many of these cloud-based business apps^ all in the one marketplace. One place, one bill, many solutions make the process so efficient. It’s just another productivity hack you should check out.

Phone a Vodafone Business Specialist today on 1300 308 569.

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Fairfax Media

Fairfax Media

Red Wire partner Fairfax Media is a leading multi-platform media company that attracts engaged audiences right across Australia and New Zealand. It's a go-to source for news and current events.