In this guest blog, entrepreneur Dror Wayne revisits the very first workshop he delivered at OneCoWork in 2018 and looks at six ways to increase efficiency in your business.
As the old adage goes, time is money. Whilst it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, it can help a lot – paying for good healthcare plans, a nice place to live, education for our children, and plenty of luxuries in life. That spa treatment. That trip to Thailand. A night out with friends.
With rent rising and more competitive markets than ever, it’s easy to get so caught up in working hard to make money (which undoubtedly, is still important) that life flies past. In many ways, this problem has been made worse by the advent of technology, as we’re constantly connected and often expected to respond instantly.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, hard work is important. But you as an entrepreneur have every right to enjoy life, as do your employees. The following advice is not a collection of cop-outs or just for “lazy millennials” (a term I will argue against in another article… one day). These sensible steps to making your work day more efficient will enable you to make more money in less time.
“Yes, hard work is important. But you as an entrepreneur have every right to enjoy life, as do your employees”.
What comes next is up to you. Do you spend your newfound freedom working to make more money or do you spend it spending that money? (I keep saying spend, but saving is also important, remember). You’ll probably strike your own balance. But without further ado, let’s jump straight in to 6 ways to increase the productivity of your working day.
In my book, I speak a lot about dichotomies and knowing when to go with which side – this is the perfect example.
On the one hand, you need to recognise the signs your body gives you and obey them. If you’re too tired to work, don’t force yourself. If you need to get out for a walk and leave the screen behind, do it – don’t just focus on the deadlines. Pushing yourself to work when you just can’t is not efficiency – it does more harm than good.
On the other hand, you need to be the one in control and set yourself up for success. Rather than caving to laziness, overcome your mental barriers and prepare your body for a good day. Start healthy habits – morning exercises, balanced meals and less screen time. Break up your day at the desk by taking 5 minutes every hour, on the hour, for a bit of exercise.
When I was writing my thesis, I kept an exercise mat by my desk. Every hour, I’d do 15 push-ups, 15 sit-ups, 15 squats and 15 star-jumps. Nothing too strenuous or sweaty. After lunch, I’d go for a 15-minute walk for fresh air. If not for these habits, there’s no way I could have rewritten and researched the dissertation in under a week.
Managers also have an important role to play in keeping your team in top form. I still remember the time in high-school when I had a week’s work experience at a global travel media firm. After Monday and Tuesday in Finance and Creative departments, I transferred to Sales on Wednesday. I walked into the office and to find a tennis ball suddenly flying straight at my face. This was how the Sales team kicked off the morning – by throwing a ball around.
What habits will help you focus? What will improve your mood?
At around 15:00, when everyone was hitting the mid-afternoon slump, the Sales Manager made everyone put down their phones and positioned an empty recycling bin on his desk. We spent ten minutes playing paper toss with ping pong balls and went back to work – refreshed, energised and ready to kick-arse.
A month into my internship at OneCoWork, I had everyone – IT team, Accountancy team, Executive team and more – meet on the top floor at Plaça Catalunya for the same games. I had been to Decathlon the night before to get the ping-pong balls. Luckily, it went down well – everyone enjoyed it and had a great day thereafter.
Think about what you can to do give yourself the best fighting chance at work. What habits will help you focus? What will improve your mood?
On the other side of the dichotomy, remember to recognise when you’ve reached your limits and stop working. Rest up and have a great day… tomorrow.
I’ve said a number of times on my show and I’m constantly reminding people – if your business isn’t generating revenue, you’re not running a business, you’ve got a hobby.
It may seem harsh and needless to say, you may be investing in a slightly longer-term strategy so you’re not yet generating revenue, but exceptions aside, it holds true.
You need to apply the same principle to your tasks and customers.
If it generates revenue, it has a place in your business. If it doesn’t, cut it out.
Think of the 80:20 rule (the Pareto Principle). According to Italian economist Pareto, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The numbers might vary, but you can apply this to your product lines and services.
Let’s say you have 5 products and you spend one day a week on each.
Product A brings in £80K a month of your profits.
Products B, C, D and E bring in £20K all together (£5K each)
If you cut out the other 80% of your products (B, C, D and E) you’ll be able to spend the entire week on Product A.
You’ll be multiplying Product A by five, bringing in £400K a month.
We can flip this the other way, also. Let’s say the 5 Products bring in the same revenue, but Product A takes up 4 days a week whilst Products B-E take up 1 day a week.
Cut out Product A and you’re working a 1-day week. How awesome is that? Either you can enjoy the free time by helping to clean up Barcelona’s beaches… or you can invest it in the other 5 Products. Once again, you’re sacrificing a measly £20K from Product A, but your overall revenue from Products B-E goes to £400K.
I used to freelance as an MC and entertainer for private events. I had two main types of client – direct, booking me for their own parties, and indirect, event businesses booking me for their clients’ parties.
The direct clients took a lot of time and effort – meetings, emails, sales and planning. I had to write contracts and promote myself to find them. I had to follow-up on our negotiations, often to find that they decided to book someone else.
The indirect clients were easy – after the first time we worked together, they’d email or WhatsApp me with dates to check my availability and again once the booking was confirmed, with the venue, times and any other details, such as dress code. I’d turn up, perform, leave and they’d pay.
Given that my fees were per night, I’d make a lot more money from indirect clients than direct, for far less work.
What’s more, the indirect clients kept coming back. Some would provide me with events every week or month. But the direct clients rarely came back – once the wedding was over, there was no repeat business.
Eventually, I gave up on direct clients. It was hard – part of me wanted to chase all the business I could get. But I made almost as much money in half as much time.
The same can go for any part of your business. Which marketing channel works best for you? Which social media platform returns the best results? Which clients occupy your employees’ time disproportionately?
If you run a small business, you probably find yourself repeating many tasks daily. If you run a bigger business, ask your team.
Could you save time by templating? If there are certain emails you’re regularly sending, try saving them as word documents in a folder, from which you just copy and paste them.
When I invested in a new CRM for MAGNIV, the business I co-founded that now has a team of 20 and is the biggest provider of event magnets in the UK, I spent 4 consecutive evenings and an entire Sunday sitting in the Hot Desk area at OneCoWork Marina Port Vell writing out emails.
I wrote scheduled notifications, that automatically went out to our customers with important information in the run-up to their events; service emails, such as confirmation of booking and receipt of payment emails that sent automatically and lastly, canned responses, which my sales representatives and I used for following up and answering common inquiries all the time.
I can’t begin to tell you how much time this has saved us since. What’s more, all our emails have been uniform, in brand language and spelling-mistake free.
Even if you don’t have a CRM to automate the sending, preparing your templates can help save time at work. Put time into getting them right.
Bonus tip: WhatsApp Business also offers template messaging. You use the forward-slash and a keyword for the canned message to fill out. Perfect for sending out prices, answers to FAQs, and essential information.
It’s a sad reality that the communication technology designed to empower us, now controls us.
Sure, the high-speed transfer of information means the world is a better place now than when the only way to send news from one city to another was to write it on parchment and hope that the messenger on horseback made it alive.
But we’ve become slaves to our devices. We feel obligated to respond to emails as and when they come in – no matter what we’re doing, no matter what time of day.
WhatsApp and Instant Messaging are even worse – I noticed myself reacting ever so slightly each time my phone vibrated in my pocket, even when I had chosen to ignore it. My hand just instinctively twitches to answer messages.
All the messaging and emails is taking over our time and destroying our efficiency. Here’s how you can take control.
Start by checking your emails only at set times during the day. Schedule one, two or three half-hour periods for emails. Don’t worry about receiving replies in the time in between – if anything is that urgent, they’ll phone.
Use the Do Not Disturb feature on Slack liberally. The feature allows your colleagues to override it and send you a notification if anything is both urgent and important. In my experience, people don’t tend to abuse the override.
Don’t respond to work messages in non-work hours. As difficult as this is, your teams and clients will get the message and begin to respect your time more. Remember, someone might message you at 23:00 because it’s convenient for them – but that doesn’t mean you have to read or reply.
If you do want to read the message and show that you’re not ignoring them, you can always reply, “thanks for the message – I’m not at my desk right now but will read this properly in the morning”.
If you’re a freelancer or nomad using your mobile for work, consider getting a virtual telephone number that redirects to your mobile. I use Cleartone, which allows me to set office hours (sending callers straight to the answering machine out of hours) and has loads of other useful business features.
I’ve linked my Cleartone virtual telephone numbers to WhatsApp Business and when I don’t want to receive work notifications, I turn off notifications in my iPhone settings for WhatsApp Business only – without affecting my personal calls and messages.
Cutting corners that save time in the short-term often backfires. Above all, when it comes to tax returns for small businesses and freelancers.
This is a simple question of discipline. If you can discipline yourself enough to look after the book's day-to-day, preparing your self-assessment tax return is a walk in the park.
I take a photo of every business receipt and save it in a specific folder on my OneDrive. Then I add the payment to an Excel spreadsheet, with the date, description and amount. I copy the filename of the image into the spreadsheet, so I can always find the receipts and invoices if needed.
Sure, this costs me a few minutes a day. But I’ve been able to do all my tax returns without the need to hire an accountant or bookkeeper, at the cost of thousands of pounds.
The same applies for many other areas of business. Do things once, properly – it will save you time and money in the long run, as you won’t need to fix previous mistakes.
I’ll only touch on this lightly and if you want to get into greater detail of how you can make more money from your existing client base, you should check out Episode 1 of my podcast.
If you’re a quality service provider doing good marketing, you should be able to increase your prices without losing too much of your client base. I haven’t collected statistics, but I get the impression that most SMEs are undercharging.
Remember, there’s always the option of offering discounts for customers who just can’t afford your prices… but you can’t bump up the price just because you think the client can afford more!
Upsell extra products to your existing client base, so that you capitalise on all the time and resources spent on acquisition already. EasyJet are a great example of automated upselling – during the booking process, in the run up to the flight and even on the plane, they’re offering you extra features such as seat selection, speedy boarding and luggage. They send emails promoting car rentals and hotels, which you can be sure earns them a commission. They’ve even started allowing you to buy refreshments in advance of the flight!
After leaving the OneCoWork marketing team in 2019 to head back to the UK, Dror Wayne has continued growing his own businesses and advising others. His newly released book, Business Doesn’t Grow On Trees, provides a comprehensive introduction to using marketing to grow SMEs and is available to purchase via Amazon here. Dror also hosts a digital talk show called Acumen, discussing Leadership, Business and Marketing. Acumen is available via YouTube on all major podcast platforms.