I’ve never met an entrepreneur with extra time on their hands, and we here at ICM love time-saving tools. Every few minutes we can shave off of routine tasks means additional time available for building your business, spending with family, or recharging for another busy day.
Here are five time-saving tools to save five hours a week for your small business.
1. Google Canned Response
Do you find yourself sending the same basic emails over and over again throughout your week? Cut your typing time down to a minimum with Google’s Canned Response feature in GMail: basically a way to quickly insert pre-written text into an email. This will save you time responding to frequent questions about location, policies, and features or services you provide. You can choose to insert the canned response into a customized email (so that you don’t look entirely like a robot), or set rules for GMail to automatically send an entire canned email based on rules you specify. Wikihow offers step-by-step directions (with pictures) for setting up canned responses.
If you spend three minutes per email sending the same response to 15 emails per week, you just saved yourself 45 minutes.
Asana is a team-based project management tool that enables you to set projects; track time to clients; add team members, due dates, and nested tasks; and track communication about each project in one easy place. See your own task calendar — or any teammate’s — at a glance to see how all your projects fit together. Asana is free for up to 30 team members. Paid versions offer extra features. We highly recommend this time-saving tool to anyone who manages projects at work.
Asana can save your team members 90 minutes a week sorting through communication, tracking project time, and maintaining an accurate to-do list.
Social media is no longer optional for a small business hoping to engage with customers. But managing accounts and maintaining a professional online presence can be exhausting. Hootsuite’s social media management platform will help you keep track of your accounts in one place: schedule a month’s worth of posts at once, monitor and engage in conversations about your brand, and track your growth all in one place. Hootsuite interacts with all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Basic Hootsuite will allow you to connect three social media accounts for free. A pro account will let you manage up to 50 accounts for $100/year.
Collectively managing your social media accounts can save another 90 minutes each week.
Forget flash drives and internal storage servers. DropBox offers 2GB of free, secure online storage. Team members can easily share folders (and even create public folders, accessible by web link) to share documents. You can download DropBox apps to your computer and mobile device, as well as access it from any web browser. A basic account is free, while DropBox Pro gives you 1TB of space for $10/mo or $100/year.
Sharing team files in one place can save about 30 minutes a week.
5. Mobile Banking
Deposit checks, transfer funds between accounts or to vendors, and pay bills in an instant. Most banks offer these services for free through their mobile banking app (which you can download for free to your phone) but check with your institution to confirm whether any services will incur fees.
If you eliminate one trip to the bank each week, you’ve just saved another half-hour.