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Time is a precious commodity for most entrepreneurs.  Taking advantage of a few time saving strategies can help free you up for the other 1,000 things you have to do to run your business.

1.  File Sharing – Using services like Google Docs or Drop Box, you can let people share, edit or comment on documents across a team, even if you aren’t working in the same time period or the same location.  Instead of waiting for a physical document or an e-mail to “make the rounds”, empower staff to make changes on the fly.

2.  Search terms more effectively – Most businesses are using Google to search for data, company information, trends or other vital information.  But, your searches can produce an overwhelming number of results if you don’t use the right search strategies.  Use quote symbols (“”) around a word or group of words to search for an exact phrase.  Use the minus sign before a word to eliminate results with that word.  And, if you find new tech or slang language that you don’t understand, use the DEFINE feature to give you the definition you seek (for example- “DEFINE: cartography” would tell your that the word is the science of drawing maps, and provide you with helpful links).

3.  Make sure your social media is mobile –  I know that most of you use social media platforms via your phone or tablet, but if you don’t, this is directed towards you…  Making sure you have the right social media apps on your mobile devices allows you to update as you are waiting for a meeting, standing in line or doing other things that would normally constitute wasted time.

4.  Use listing or project management software – For repetitive tasks or large detailed projects, making sure everything gets done in the proper order saves time.  And, most people like “checking” something off of a list, so you’ll find appropriate software can move you through projects quicker.

5.  Use software like “facetime” or “skype” to extend your eyes and ears – Sometimes opportunities pop up and you just can’t physically make it to a meeting, to an auction or to that cool new vendor.  Using video technology that most of you have on your phones right now, you can create “tele-presence”.  Cutting down on travel time obviously saves you time, but utilizing technology can also help you take advantage of opportunities that would otherwise be lost.

6.  Keep time in mind when creating a web presence –  Have you seen those web sites that have virtually no current information on the front page, the site never changes and outdated information?  Often that’s because the site doesn’t allow easy changes.  Emporia Main Street has a site designed by IM Design Group through WordPress.  We occasionally hear “why didn’t you do something custom programmed?”  But, “custom” is often synonymous with “must make changes through the programmer” which often means expensive and slow changes.

7.  Look for efficiency –  Don’t duplicate data.  If you see yourself entering the same data in multiple areas (contact lists, sales information, inventory, time sheets, etc.) try to figure out how to make the technologies “talk” to each other.  It doesn’t make sense to enter the same information multiple times if you can help it.  Many programs have a relational database feature that allow you to import information from another source.  A few well placed questions can save you some long term headaches.

8.  Integrate Point of Sale and bookkeeping –  Work with your accountant (and business agencies like the Small Business Development Center) to combine the reporting power of Point of Sale and accounting software.  You’ll save time and get more accurate information on valuable points like cost of goods sold and true profit margins.  And, the time you save with customers when your “ring them out” with a computerized systems is substantial.

9.  Use “print screen” features to create manuals and directions – Using all these new pieces of tech does require some staff training.  Remember that old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words?”  Well, you can make system training a little easier by finding the screen shot you want to train on, hitting the “print screen” button on your keyboard (look above your “delete” and “insert” buttons) and “pasting” the image in a design program.  You can then highlight areas or add text descriptions on the screen in question.  If employees are looking at a picture of the screen they are working on in a training manual, they will probably pick up concepts faster and retain the information at a higher rate.  Faster training times mean more time for you to focus on other areas of your business.

10.  Use Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram as idea engines – Most businesses spend time in something we call “decision paralysis”.  You know you need to change out the window, but with what? You know you need to learn about a new trend, but how???  Instead of spending another ten minutes staring at the problem, look for solutions that others have already implemented on the appropriate social media platform.

Technology can be scary until you start using it consistently.  We can’t manufacture any more time in a day, so utilizing tech effectively is an important tactic in creating a more efficient work environment.  After using some of the methods listed above for a few months, you will be surprised at all the “new stuff” you can get done simply by employing the right technology.

What is your favorite tech time saver?

Find this article and more information around town in this week’s Emporia Main Street E-newsletter!