Six easy ways you can save time and make more money in business
If there’s one thing most entrepreneurs would love more of, it’s time and money. Discover six easy ways you can increase the availability of both.
I’ve been running my own businesses for 16 years now, and in that time I have learned a LOT about the value of time, and the connection between the availability of time and the amount of money I am able to make.
Put simply, if you aren’t working smart enough, the chances are you are missing out on income your business could be bringing in. Or your business is so inefficient that you are wasting too much of your hard-earned profits. You’re probably working harder than you need to, to earn what you are currently making, too.
In this article I am sharing six big lessons that have helped me make simple changes to my own businesses that have left to more time AND more money. I hope you find them helpful too.
1) Identify your money making tasks (and ditch the money wasters)
If you want to make more money with less effort you need to make sure the time you spend on your business is in the right places. Too often I see entrepreneurs working hard but in the wrong areas. So they FEEL like they are working and indeed, are putting the hours and effort in, but can’t understand why they’re not earning more.
My goal for myself and for you is always to maximise your income while minimising your effort. I was able to do this for myself and others by this simple, three-step exercise:
- Keep a time sheet of everything you do for two weeks. Allocate your time in 15 minute chunks.
- Then make a list of all your ways you make money, and work out how much time each takes you. Use your time sheet for reference.
- Find the things that make you the most money per hour and build up those.
When I did this exercise a few years ago, I realised that, per hour, my biggest earner was advertising and working with SEO agencies. And yet my focus was on selling courses.
I switched my focus a little and set up some systems to bring more work in, and make it easier to manage – this included email templates for common queries. Today, that side of the business brings in several thousand pounds a month for an hour or so a day.
So what untapped potential lies in your business? Can you ditch some tasks or products and focus more on ones that bring you in more money?
2) Use a calendar and list
Your time is your most valuable and finite resource. Spend it wisely and you’ll grow profitable business in the time you have. Waste it, and you can spend many hours working but without much to show for it.
It’s easy to waste time. But there are some simple strategies I have learned to use over the years that mean when I am at work, I am working productively. And the simplest of all is by using a to do list. I can tell the difference between the days I set myself a list to work to, and ones I don’t!
So why do lists work? They focus our attention on what needs to be done and prevent us from adding in time-wasting activities. To me they act as a small niggle – I know I have to complete the list before I can leave so I may as well get started on it.
It also gives me the opportunity to review what I need to do, and organise it in terms of complexity and time. I can decide whether I want to race through the quick and easy tasks first, or get the tricky ones out of the way.
My decision on this is based on how I feel that day. If I am uninspired and lacking motivation I will usually start with routine, easy tasks like bookkeeping. Or if I am feeling full of energy and ideas I will tackle a bigger task first.
I also plan my week out if I have a lot to do; for example if I am planning a course launch. For this I use my Google Calendar and chunk my time. I will block out hours or half days for projects or tasks. This ensures that I spend that dedicated time on that particular task, and get it done.
This strategy means I spend far less time procrastinating. If I am at work, I actually want to work – otherwise I am just killing time in my office when I could be doing something more interesting instead!
We’ve all had days when we’ve sat at a desk for several hours but not made headway, and that feels frustrating. This system prevents this for me and is pretty foolproof.
So use my system or create one of your own to identify the tasks you need to complete this day or week. Make a list of those tasks and decide when you will tackle them. Then write that down and follow your plan. If you like, you can try using a Success List.
3) Automate as much as possible
There are three ways you can save your own time at work:
- Ditch tasks
- Delegate them to someone else
- Do them better
I am a big advocate of the first two. Stop wasting time on tasks that don’t need to be done – sometimes we can use these as procrastination. The washing up, for example, never looks as attractive to me as when I have a big work tasks I need to get started on!
For the second, hire people if they can do an important tasks better and faster than you, and the time you save can be spent bringing in more money than you are paying them. I outsource design, social media and website development, because I either can’t do them or don’t have the available time to do them effectively.
The rest of the business I run myself with the help of my technical ‘assistants’. For me, doing tasks better usually means finding software that shortcuts or automates tasks so I don’t need to do them. This means I can run Talented Ladies Club pretty much single handed while working part time.
Here are some of my tech short cut recommendations:
- Use Zaps to automate sales. When someone downloads a freebie or buys a course, Zapier adds a tag to their email address in Drip, our email software, and that sends them an automatic email.
- Use Calendly to set up meetings. If I am busy and someone wants to book a time to speak with me, I give them a Calendly link. This connects with my Google calendar to only show them times I am free. I also set Calendly to only offer times in my work hours so I am in control of when I am available.
- Schedule as much as you can ahead. I bulk write emails, blog posts and social media and schedule in. This means I can work in flow and let my business run itself day to day. I am also in control rather than having to be responsive. Email software and WordPress all have scheduling abilities.
4) Track your money
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Talented Ladies Club started making money once I began tracking our income and expenses. This involved creating a simple spreadsheet that records my monthly income and outgoings. Every sale goes into it, as does every expense. (You can get your own copy of my profit and loss sheet here.)
At any given point in any month I know exactly how much I have made, and how much I have spent. My spreadsheet even works out my tax, VAT and profit margin.
Why does this work? Firstly it keeps my focus on money so I make decisions that bring more in and stop spending too much. I don’t make any decision on a new expense without considering its impact on my bottom line.
It also motivates me to take actions that will help bring more money into the business. For example, in 2016 I hired my first proper business coach. She cost more than we were turning over a month but I had a few months of numbers to show me that there was no consistency in our profit, and no sign that would change without some kind of guidance.
I continued tracking my numbers and within a few months we were easily making the coach’s fee and more – and our turnover and profit has continually grown since then. I would never had had the confidence to hire a coach had I not had a clear picture of our financial position.
Tracking our money also motivates me to take action when I might not feel like it. Plus, as our income is now more predictable I can plan it around my life. I took most of this summer off because I had planned my income.
Just think: what will tracking your money tell YOU? Will it show you where you need to focus your efforts? Will it give you the confidence to make some tough decisions? Will it show you expenses you need to drop? Or your prices rise?
If nothing else it will show you if you are indeed making the money you want or need, and enables you to make important, informed decisions if not.
5) Know your goals
When you apply for a job you always ask about the salary – you would never take a job without knowing how much you will earn for the time you put into the job. And yet when we start a business or go freelance we often don’t think about this.
How much DOES your business really earn you an hour, day, month or year? (If you have followed the last tip you can quickly and easily work this out.)
Is that enough? Can you thrive on that income? Does the financial reward match your effort? Do you earn the same or more than if you were to be employed? Are you HAPPY with it?
Too often when I start working with people they are shocked to find out how little they are actually earning – and have been for years without realising it.
That’s why recommend you start out with goals. Know how much money you want or need to make a year, and what that translates into each month. Then you have to set yourself monthly income goals.
This way you can see how far you are currently from what you need to earn – or how close you are to it! And if you are off you can look at ways to bridge that gap, including raising your prices and focusing on more profitable customers or clients.
Being aware of what you need to bring in in order to earn the income you want or need will also motivate you and inspire you to take action when it comes to sales. Personally I set myself myself monthly goals that give me the income I want plus extra profit to put away for future investment and into my pension.
Having that goal helps motivate me. For example towards the end of one November a few years ago I realised we would be around £1,000 short of our goal. So I quickly put together a Black Friday promotion on our masterclasses, and it brought in an extra £600. I didn’t reach my exact goal, but I was £600 better off than I would have been without that goal.
Do you have an income goal? And a profit goal? If so, are you reaching it? If not, what can you change to get you closer to it? If you don’t have a goal, I recommend setting one.
6) Creating email templates
And finally, having to create the same thing over and over is a waste of time and energy, and also leads to a lack of consistency. That’s why I rely on templates as much as possible in business.
For my emails, I have a template for general emails, and one for our weekly newsletter. This means we can create our weekly newsletter in about five minutes. And it always looks the same which builds brand consistency. People know what to expect each week when they receive our newsletters, which gives them confidence in our brand.
Because it’s quick and easy to create our newsletters it means we never miss them. They’re not onerous to create and they go out at the same time each week so they are built into our calendar.
Another form of email template I use is within Gmail, which is where emails that come into the business go to. I have dozens of emails every day from companies, and many of them asking the same questions or for similar information.
I used to reply individually which took time. But then I sat down and worked out template replies I can send out. It takes me a few seconds now to reply. This means I spend less time and can respond to more queries – which brings more money into the business.
Other templates that work for businesses include creating design templates on software like Canva, so you can just tweak a template to create social media posts and more.
What templates can you create in your business to help you save time, and create a more consistent brand experience for your customers or clients?
How can you save time and make more money?
I hope you have found these six tips helpful. As I have explained, each one has enabled me to save valuable time in my business – to the point I now work part time four days a week, while earning more than I have ever done so working full time.
So please do take whatever is useful to you and take positive action. See how much time you can save, and more money you can make.