Time is a limited resource, yet it’s the most valuable one of all when starting a home-based business. One of the best time management strategies for entrepreneurs is to create “Time Dividends,” a concept from Laura Vanderkam’s book, Off the Clock.
The idea is simple: what you spend time and money on now can save you more time later. These investments continue to pay off by “creating time” just like investing in stocks can pay dividends.
And if you’re trying to build a home-based business while still working a nine-to-five job, capitalizing on your available time is vital to success!
These are the six best investments that pay off in time dividends when you’re building a home business.
If you’re starting a work-from-home business, it’s especially important to learn from the experts. Doing so can expedite your success while helping you make fewer mistakes – which means reading ALL the books!
Finding time to read can seem virtually impossible. That’s why investing in an audiobook service like Audible or iBooks is a must! Although you can buy the e-book versions for a fraction of the cost, being able to “read” on the go is a time management hack that’s worth the extra investment.
Suddenly your commute doubles as your continued education class, and you can “read” during your morning jog. The best feature is that you can speed up the audio which means you can get through the material much faster. Instead of taking one or two weeks of daily dedicated reading for one book, you can get through the same book in an afternoon of focused listening.
2. Idea Validation
Many ambitious entrepreneurs rush excitedly into the building and launching of a product or service without actually researching to determine if it’s a viable money-making idea.
There’s nothing more discouraging than pouring your heart and soul into something only to have it flop. Put in the legwork to validate your idea before you waste your precious time on it!
Asking for feedback on your ideas is one of the easiest (and most important) ways to validate your idea. If your business already has an audience or email list, ask them open-ended questions about the problem you’re attempting to solve with your potential product or service. Another option is to throw up a landing page with a brief description of your idea, service, or product. You can then gauge interest in your product by how many signups you get.
3. Organizational Technology
Many people shy away from learning new online business tools because the best features often come with a monthly bill, and it can take time to learn how to use them effectively. But investing in a streamlined process from the get-go will pay off in spades later. A few web tools that just about any small business can benefit from include:
- Trello: A fantastic (and free) web tool with a number of uses, Trello is a bit like a fancy to-do list that you can use on your own or in collaboration with a team of people. You can use Trello to prioritize workflow, brainstorm ideas, and manage deadlines.
- Toggl: This a time management tool that helps you track how much time you’re spending on certain tasks. This is particularly helpful if you have a service-based business that requires you to log the time spent on a project. You can also use it to track how much time you’re spending on each aspect of your business. After a few weeks of data, you can evaluate what tasks are eating up the most time and identify ways to streamline or batch-task items to make your processes more efficient.
- Zapier: This one is a time-saving powerhouse that helps you automate the repetitive (and perhaps least favorite) processes of your business. Zapier can connect just about any two web applications with another to create an automation or “zap” that will act when certain triggers are met. For example, you could connect Facebook Lead Ads to your Gmail account so that each time a lead completes your call to action, Gmail sends them a follow-up email. Or you could have that lead connect with Google Sheets to create a list of leads gained through Facebook Lead Ads.
4. Voice Typing
If your home-based business involves blogging or writing, voice typing could become your time management superpower. The good news is you don’t need any expensive equipment to do this. Google Docs has voice-to-text capabilities and is free to use from both your computer and your phone!
Even if you’re an accomplished typist, it’s not just about the speed of getting your words onto the page. Voice typing can be a different approach to harnessing your creativity. It gets your ideas down without censoring them in the way they are when you type them out.
However, learning voice typing does take some practice. You need to speak punctuation into your documents and learn the document navigation commands. But when you put in the work to get comfortable with it, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to create content!
Search Engine Optimization can be overwhelming when you’re starting, and it’s tempting to rely on other forms of traffic (social media or Pinterest, for example) in lieu of learning SEO. Although building steady SEO traffic is a slow burn, it has a long-lasting impact that social media traffic can’t hold a candle to.
You will save yourself countless hours of optimizing old posts down the road if you make a concerted effort to optimize your pages from the start.
If you’re a WordPress user, Yoast has a fantastic plugin with a free version that can help you optimize each page as you build them, making it easier to please the Google algorithm.
Sure, spending time doing keyword research to strategically optimize your posts might not be your favorite thing to do, but your future self will thank you when your website traffic takes off!
6. Social Media Tools
Although a different beast from SEO, social media can play a huge role in your digital marketing efforts. Social media tools are typically a financial investment, and some come with a considerable learning curve as well. However, wield them correctly, and you can create serious time dividends in your online marketing efforts.
Most of these tools have free versions but are relatively limited. If you’re spending hours on one or more of your social media channels every day, it’s an investment well worth making. There are three in particular worth checking out:
- Tailwind: This tool can pre-schedule pins to be posted on Pinterest when your audience’s engagement is at its highest. Pins can be scheduled weeks in advance so you don’t have to spend hours every day pinning! Plus, Tailwind tribes help your pins spread to your target audience faster. Tailwind now integrates with your Instagram account, too!
- SocialBee: Rather than logging into each of your social media platforms to review and respond to your audience’s activities, you can monitor everything in one place with SocialBee. One of the biggest time-saving tools SocialBee offers is the ability to store drafted social media updates, so you don't have to constantly rewrite and upload posts.
- Statusbrew: Although compatible with Instagram and Facebook, Statusbrew is a particularly powerful timesaver for Twitter users. It’s an excellent tool for managing your followers and automating tweets.
Related Content: How to Stop Social Media Marketing From Being a Giant Time-Suck
Being Proactive About Time Management
In their eagerness to hit the ground running, many home businesses avoid making these investments up front, only to find that there never seems to be enough time to get their venture off the ground. Yet most of these up-front investments aren’t huge asks in either time or money.
As you grow your home-based business, be on the lookout for more ways to create time dividends. There will almost always be opportunities to streamline, scale, or consolidate your processes. Good time management skills are not only necessary for building a successful business, but they also create a healthy work-life balance!
Corrie Alexander is a content creator and logistics nerd from Toronto, Ontario. Her climb up the corporate ladder cultivated her interest in the topic of career development, a passion rivaled only by her love of exercise and strong coffee. Visit her website, thefitcareerist.com.
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