Small business owners are working longer hours than ever as economic tough times force them to try to survive. Unfortunately, all too often this comes at the expense of a small business owner’s personal well-being. According to a survey conducted by ERP firm Sage, small business workers are working 42% more hours each week than only five years ago, with at least 40% less vacation time. Most small business owners are giving up nights and weekends, as well, with 72% reporting that they work longer days and more weekends than five years ago.
Part of this has to be attributed to technology. Consider the fact that most small business owners reported using a phone or other mobile device to access work-related information when they weren’t at the office. While most business owners reported that they believed technology has helped them be more productive, it also creates an “always on” business world where business owners eventually feel burned out.
If you’re a small business owner, you likely know the importance of always being available. But at what expense? Your family demands your time, as well, and vacations and “fun time” can help give you the balance you need. But if your smartphone is constantly in front of your face, chances are you aren’t enjoying that “time away” from work. Plus, your friends and family might actually want to have a conversation with you without having to wait for you to finish sending an e-mail.
Believe it or not, technology can help your small business survive without driving you and everyone you love crazy. Here are a few tips for using today’s tools to survive tough economic times:
- Delegate. If you’re trying to do everything alone, you’re hurting yourself and your business. If you’ve hired workers, use your electronic devices to pass some of that work on. Review all of your daily processes and determine which of those items could be handed off to someone else in your organization. If you’re a one-man operation or your workers are too busy, check to see if moving to a Cloud-based automated solution might save your business money on such things as printing costs, reduction in fuel, and server storage.
- Set limits. Many of us find ourselves compulsively checking our e-mail throughout the day. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll only check it once an hour. This is especially important if you’re on vacation or trying to spend time with your family on the weekend. If you need an extra dose of willpower, consider leaving your phone in a different room or in your car, only checking it occasionally. Even during the work week, you’ll be much more productive if you can concentrate on the task at hand rather than constantly refreshing your inbox.
- Use technology as a tool. Whether you’re using your calendar reminders or downloading an app that can help you avoid traffic on your morning drive, your smartphone, tablet, or PC is a tool. If you can search for the best free or low-cost apps that improve your productivity, you’ll reap the highest rewards from today’s technology.
The results of Sage’s survey are in the below infographic: