Finding the time to build and run a successful business is not easy. Many first-time entrepreneurs can be overwhelmed by their daily volume of ‘to-do’s’, especially during the early stages of business development, when a routine has yet to be established and new time-demanding issues pop up around every corner. What to do?
There are many strategies and ideas that have been developed to deal with such problems. A quick tour of the web will give you 50 time management guidelines, 15 useful time tracking tools, 8 new year business time saving tips and 3 time management tips that women in business need to know. It's not always the 'how to' manage time that challenges business owners, but the difficulty of sticking to these strategies in a real-time business situation where the seconds are always ticking!
We'll return later to some of the more general time management strategies, but instead of trying to improve everything at once, a good approach is to improve one process at a time. Let's start with time spent banking.
OK - you've probably already heard all about the benefits of online banking, and how it can save you time (and money)...so let's move past that. Some people like banking from home, other people do not. If you're already comfortable paying bills and checking your balances online - good for you - if not, don't press yourself to do anything you're not comfortable doing, but do keep an open mind on the issue.
This is not your primary business location, so why spend more time here than you have to?
Regardless...No matter how much you love or hate online banking though, for most business owners, there will be regular trips to the bank. Home computers still can't accept cheque deposits, and even an ATM machine can't provide you with petty cash Here are just a few tips I can suggest, based on my own experience working in the financial service industry.
- Prepare yourself! Save yourself, fellow customers of your bank and bank staff a lot of time and stress by preparing your own deposit slips, transaction requests and other documents ahead of time. Deposit slips in particular are important. If you will be depositing cheques on a regular basis - you can ensure accuracy by filling them out on your own, rather than requesting the (often) rushed teller to fill it out for you.
- Ask bank staff about the busy/slow times in your branch. Every branch has a different 'peak' time of day, and you might be surprised to learn when your branch is usually the slowest. Asking when the best (quietest) time of day to come to the bank might make the difference between a 3 minute stop at 2:45 in the afternoon, or a 30 minute wait at 12:45.
- Delegate banking responsibilities to your staff. Many businesses use a 'runner' to make deposits or to process simple transactions on their behalf. Runners do not need to have signing privileges or other access to your bank accounts, but many banks do allow them to hold some sort of 'agent' or 'deposit only' card, which also allows them to save time by using the ATM for your business deposits.
- Deposit infrequently! Most business banking accounts will charge you fees based on how many deposits you are making. Instead of depositing one cheque each day, and paying a fee for each deposit, make a weekly trip to deposit an entire week's worth (ask you bank for more specific information on what they offer). Most importantly, this will save you from visiting the bank too often.
- Stand in the right line. This might seem a little too obvious, but especially for first-time business clients it can be easy to fall into the trap of waiting in the familiar 'personal' banking line-up. Most medium-large sized branches will have a specific business deposit line-up or even a completely separated business banking section of the branch. Take advantage of this added service.
Banking is just one part of your daily time-management routine - but an inescapable one for most business owners and it can be well worth knowing the tips and hints on how to bank more efficiently.
If you want more resources on time management for small business owners, you might find a few of the following books and articles helpful:
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo UW Credit Unio created by ibm4381 on Jan 12, 2009, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Last viewed on Oct 18, 2010.