Practical time management solutions. How to free up time using various software systems and online tools.
All of us who have started their own business want to start with a bang. Dreaming of inspiring, paradigm-shifting projects that will define the landscapes of our future. We then get the chance to pitch for one of these sought after projects only to realize that we have no way of actually producing the amount of work required with the limited resources available to a small/start-up company.
These issues are not only limited to small business but can impact any size company. The up and down cycle of our industry becomes a treacherous tight rope walk to success, trying to balance work load, profits and expenditure. Luckily this is 2016. We are in the midst of a digital age where innovative projects get launched at a staggering rate. It is time we learn how to use these technologies to our advantage or get left behind.
Most problems in the landscape industry can be traced back to time management and flexibility. The more flexible your company becomes, the better your chances of success will be.
How can we achieve this?
The following solutions are by no means the only ones available. They are the one that I have found most useful and functional with a reasonable price tag.
1. Finding your focus
Micromanagement is one of the main reasons many companies fail. It causes burnout in your top personnel and brings down the moral of the whole team. Make time to find your forte and stick to it. If you are good at landing new client and terrible at admin, then get someone to do the admin and just land more deals.
Automate as many systems as you possibly can. Automating admin, project management and time logging systems can free up much needed employee time. It is pertinent that systems are chosen that can integrate with one another – thus saving even more time. Many systems can automatically import data from other software packages and produce results without any input from your side.
You need to know how every single second of every employee is spent every day without driving yourself and your employees crazy. Luckily there are many online systems that do just that. An excellent system that we currently use is Intervals (www.myintervals.com). It provides accurate time tracking and weekly timesheets, detailed task management for teams, comprehensive reporting and flexible project management workflow. You can even set up automated Invoicing for work completed. The productivity of every employee can be measured, mapped and discussed.
Do it online. As much as possible. Set up your website and make sure it works! It is not necessary to pay exorbitant amounts to create such a site. Pop on over to www.wix.com and create your own site, for FREE. Be sure to have all the necessary information available on your website. This way you will save time on explaining the services you render and the processes involved. Add PayPal to your payment options and make it possible for your clients to pay online using various payment options.
It is now easier than ever to increase and decrease you workforce without having to bare the financial and social stresses of hiring employees or joining a partnership. The following functions can all be outsourced with the click of a button:
Sales & Marketing – Hatchbuck, Google Ad Words
Debt collection – AR Collect, DebtorDaddy, AnytimeCollect
Accounting – QuickBooks
Invoicing – Intervals, PayPal
Project management - Intervals
Landscape design & drafting – Seas of Green (That’s us, of course!)
The time spent setting up these systems are negligible when compared to the time it will free up for real work, work that will bring in money.
All these systems are there to make your company run smoothly. Not all software or outsourcing systems will work for everyone, but almost all software packages come with a free trial month. This affords you the opportunity to test the impacts it could have on your business. If it doesn’t work for you, do not hesitate to try a different system until you find you fit.