It’s officially December which means the holidays are just around the corner and Q4 is coming to a close. Between holiday stress, distracted or vacationing employees, unusual sales patterns, and managing your year-end budget, the fourth quarter isn’t the easiest time of year for business owners – especially the small business owner. Not only is everyone looking to you for answers, but keeping your business running smoothly while also trying to grow (and maintain a sense of balance) is no easy task.
But keeping stress low and profits high doesn’t have to mean adding items to your To Do list. The following tips can help you boost efficiency and preserve your peace and sanity in Q4 and beyond.
Tip #1: Shift Your Perspective
Most entrepreneurs founded their own businesses out of a love for the work they do and the customers they serve. Don’t let the day to day minutiae of running your business distract you from the joy and pride you feel in owning it.
Make time in the fourth quarter to retrain your focus on your goals for the coming year. Start by examining the successes of the past year. What did you do well? What do you want more of? Then explore the challenges. What can you do differently? Where should you delegate or reach out for support? Then finish by setting 3-4 measurable, trackable goals for next year, to help you recharge your excitement for the work you do and the population you serve.
Tip #2: Delegate
A survey by The Alternative Board found that nearly two-thirds of business owners would benefit from delegating work to others so that they could focus on more strategic endeavors for their business like:
- Sales revenue generation
- New product development
- Establishing new partnerships
Delegation is especially helpful during stressful periods like year’s end, or again during tax season. You’ve spent considerable man hours finding and training the right people. Leverage them.
“Those hours go missing from the sales, product development or marketing departments, which very likely all have higher revenue potential than the five-hour task that could be delegated. In short, business owners are missing out on increased sales and revenue because they are not outsourcing or delegating as much as they could (and probably should).”
Tip #3: Say Thank You
Showing some appreciation for your team can help you feel supported as well. By acknowledging the skills and value they bring, you may just find yourself more comfortable delegating, and feeling more secure in your decision making as 2020 rolls in.
Show your appreciation by bringing in a catered lunch for a large crowd, or taking your small office out for a meal; set aside some time for team-building activities; or give them a little something to show your tanks such as a Starbucks gift card or movie tickets. You don’t have to spend a lot to show people you care!
Tip #4: Take a Break
Small business owners are more likely to struggle with work-life balance than workers in other roles. In fact, entrepreneurs overwhelmingly report that the running their business is more stressful than raising children. It’s essential they take time off. The 1992 Framingham Heart Study, which still stands as the gold standard for long-term health studies, tracked workers over 20 years and discovered that men who don’t take vacations were 30% more likely to have heart attacks. For women, the number went up to 50%.
Taking regular vacations from the office benefits more than just your physical health. Taking regular vacations can actually improve your business’s productivity. Though it may feel like there are countless things to do, year’s end is a great time to take a break so you can come back and start the new year rested and refreshed.
Tip #5: Incorporate Simple Security Measures
Talk about stressful: cybercrime is increasingly targeting small businesses. In the past 12 months, 47% of small businesses have suffered at least one cyberattack, according to a survey by Hiscox. Of those, 44% suffered between two and four attacks in that time period. Cyberattacks are more than just an inconvenience: Small businesses in the survey say the average incident cost them nearly $35,000. That’s not counting the additional fallout, such as losing customers, losing income and losing productivity while recovering from the attack.
Tip #6: Automate Your Workflows
Automation is the best way to save time and money, and to reduce errors. But the software you choose is just as important as the team members you hire. Make sure it is built to handle the management and automation of the workflows that keep your business running.
- Stay organized with cloud-based storage like Google Docs or Dropbox for secure, centralized, and organized record-keeping.
- Use accounting software like FreshBooks or Quickbooks, so you can stop worrying about actively managing your finances while remaining knowledgeable about what’s happening.
- Find a tax software that integrates and directly imports from your accounting software to free yourself from the time spent manually inputting tax information.
- Invest in a Web Capture solution that streamlines the scanning-to-web process that plays a significant role during tax time.