Written by Alex Hodgkinson.  This article is part of our Red Papers business content series.

Well done SME, your entrepreneurial flair and hard work mean you are officially the backbone of our nation, and indeed the entire business world.  Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) now contribute 57 percent of Australia’s GDP, creating millions of jobs in the process every year.

You’ve achieved a lot but you also have a lot of weight on your shoulders. SME owners work hard and long.  Nearly half report working 60 to 80 hours a week, and more than one in 10 say they are putting in 80 plus hours a week. The health effects of all of this can be diabolical, not to mention a waste if you’re too busy to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

How you manage your employees, the finances, your goals and the day-to-day can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. And doing that effectively, means balancing your time, and your efforts.

Here are some simple and effective ways to help your business thrive, and get you home in time for dinner.

Learn to say NO

Be a little more like billionaire Warren Buffett and leave large gaps in your diary for creative thinking. Breathing space during your day gives you time to think of creative ways around problems that tend to keep you awake at night, like cash-flow and business leads. If you’re struggling to find time for anything other than work, it’s likely because you’re saying yes to too many offers of lunches, coffees, meetings, or phone calls.  Yes, they may lead to opportunities, but be strategic – not just helter skelter.  Replace your busy schedule with a hand-written list of manageable tasks for the day.  If it works for Warren, it can work for you.

Articulate your vision

No one will ever care about your business as much as you do, so it’s on you to be the source of ambition and drive.  As the leader of your business you can decide what you want your business to be.  It’s then up to you to communicate that vision to your employees and be the driving force behind everything you do.

Promote transparency

Establish a culture of transparency within your organisation and ensure your employees understand the direction and strategy of your business. Documenting all your business processes, and creating a book of standard operating procedures will give your business a framework for your employees to follow, without them always needing to check in with you when they make a decision.

Learn how to delegate

It’s a big one, and necessary for the growth of your business.  And to give yourself back some time. Accept that you’re not going to be best at everything.  Many business owners are so attached to their ‘baby’ that they struggle to see when to let go and let others help run a project or an idea.

It’s essential to empower your employees to build on your vision for your business. Take a step back and imagine your business without you. How would it go on, and who would be in charge of what? Never underestimate what your employees already know about your business and what they can contribute.   Delegating, and allowing them to shine and share their insights can lead to a happy, loyal team environment.

Leverage technology, and keep your overheads low

Do you need that expensive office?  If you’re work is mostly in the field, create a virtual office that will still provide you with a very professional sounding voicemail and auto attendant message.  Replace the landline with an Internet-based phone that’s Use cloud-based business management tools instead of computer servers. Your time and effort should be spent moving your business forward not doing mundane business tasks.

Look for personalised service and tech support

You are at the helm of a business providing personalised service to your customers, but what about your own customer experience? Who is providing you with the personalised service you need? Vodafone offers 24/7 support, plus a personalised service for SMEs with a dedicated Australian-based Personal Account Manager.  You can click, call or come in store to have your questions answered, or for support.  It’s that simple.

Look after Number 1

It goes without saying that exercise and a healthy diet helps good business acumenJust as important though is your mental wellbeing, and that of your employees. A small business can be like a family, and a downturn in someone’s mood – including yours – will be noticed.  So, learning how to recognise signs of stress, and how to have the right conversations to properly support staff is to everyone’s benefit, and the benefit of your business.

Measure the Wins –  and the Failures

Team meetings can be very beneficial if they’re done right. They’re all about goal setting and team building.  Have everyone involved in setting a quantitative goal and a specific focus for the work week.  Then at the end of the week, thrash it out in an all company call to talk about the hits, and the misses. Acknowledging big wins is important, but so is acknowledging the failures.  It’s an opportunity for everyone on the team to grow, learn and develop personally and professionally. Plus, it means that each week, issues are sorted and put to bed.  And there’s no reason to waste time worrying about them any further.

Find out how you could be eligible for great savings by signing up to our new Business Plans. Just leave your details in the form below and one of our Business Specialists will get back to you.


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