Save Time, Make Money (but be careful what you outsource)

Time is Money!

Of course it is, and it’s well proven by a calculation we’ll look at in just a moment.

Wasting just a little time each working day doing jobs that don’t return profits can have huge ramifications for your profits. Especially now there are so many simple tasks that could be outsourced for a couple of pounds at sites likeFiverr.

The calculation to consider is based on a sole business owner wasting just ten minutes every day by reading unproductive emails, for example, or searching for new business ideas when they already have enough to keep them going for years.

Those ten wasted minutes – which for most people is probably many times higher – work out at fifty minutes lost each week, based on a five day working week. Over a 50 week working year that adds up to 2500 lost minutes, about 41 hours (50 x 50 divided by 60 for minutes per hour) and longer than the average working week for most of us.

Those ten minutes require readjustment, given that The Telegraph says about the average employee wastes up to 759 hours each year reading emails and telephone texts and looking out of the window.

The figures are from research carried out among 2,000 people by the personal financial management service Think Money.

For similarly worrying results but this time breaking lost time into profits forfeited by business owners, pay a visit to: Answer-4u

I don’t know how accurate the statistics are but merely seeing how the number of minutes wasted loses us many thousands of pounds profit annually is enough to make most of us try to save time in our own business ventures.

The Biggest Problem: The Answer-4u site says the average small business owner in the UK wastes 16 days each year answering and responding to uninvited and non-productive sales calls.

The majority of cold sales calls arrive because most businesses, including on eBay, must provide a telephone number to benefit buyers, which in turn tempts hundreds of calls every year from firms wanting to sell us stuff we don’t need, don’t want and in most cases can’t even afford.

Case in point: The latest big time-wasting telephone sales call I’ve had recently (and you may have had too) is from a lady offering to take over all your telephone and inside eBay communications with enquirers and buyers and so save time in your business.

The lady has phoned several times offering to answer all communications from my eBay customers and enquirers and pass the details back to me.

When I suggested I don’t receive enough telephone calls from enquirers and customers to warrant delegating the task, she continued selling her service, beginning ‘How many telephone calls do you receive each month?’ I replied ‘Anything from none to one’, followed by ‘and I am certain having an outsider communicate with another person’s enquirers and buyers is outside eBay’s rules.’

Warning: When you receive that call and key in 1471 for the caller’s return telephone number you’ll find there isn’t one.

Solution: Put your telephone on answer and inside your eBay listings say something like this which you are free to copy:

‘Please telephone me if you need clarification about anything in my listing. I am here every weekday waiting for your call between 9am and 6pm. In order to dedicate all my working time to you and my other enquirers and buyers, you may find my telephone is set to answer to avoid long and unwanted cold sales calls. When that happens, please wait for the messaging part to kick in and say something like ‘I want to ask about one of your products on eBay’ or just mention eBay and I will pick up right away. Thank you.’

So although it’s vey important for us all to stop wasting time on tasks that could be outsourced – dealing with your eBay account queries is one area I wouldn’t recommend it.

Tips

• Do not ever let an outsider perform tasks inside your eBay account or deal direct with your buyers and customers. The money you lose and the time you spend appealing a suspension by eBay will be much longer, more painful and much more expensive than doing all the communications yourself or having a trusted family member do selected tasks for you.

And if the outsider has broken an eBay rule inside your account you probably won’t be reinstated at all – ever!

• Sellers who do receive copious calls from buyers can compile most frequently asked questions and their answers into a short section at the end of each appropriate product listing.

• Most of us work more efficiently and perform more tasks at certain times of day than others. For me, it’s round about 6am when no one is likely to telephone and the family is still in bed so they can’t bother me either. Find out when your most productive time is each day and use it to perform important and productive tasks.

• Write a ‘to do’ list for the next hour or so but no longer. This is because looking at the longer list and picking and choosing tasks and being frightened by the sheer volume of work to be done can lead to stress and exhaustion and poor productivity for the remainder of the day.  Break your day into one hour lists and each task completed on time will give you a sudden boost and burst of energy and make the hours that follow even more productive.

• Here’s an idea I don’t personally agree with but I found the same tip mentioned on several professional research company websites I studied today. The tip is to do just enough to create a nice product or complete a given task, and just enough to keep your enquirers and buyers happy. Spend the absolute minimum time performing business tasks or as one website puts it ‘Do just enough.

Unnecessary quality is wasted time!’ I don’t agree but you must decide for yourself.

• Most people think emailing is faster than telephoning, when the opposite is sometimes true. That’s because some people like to perfect their email messages and many of us take minutes to correct spelling mistakes and typos and accentuate certain words that would otherwise be emphasised by body language in person or spoken by telephone. 

And that means, in the absence of needing a copy of what was said in a two-way communication, telephone is very often faster than email.

• Numerous research sites suggest holding meetings over the telephone instead of in person will save time otherwise spent travelling to meetings and incurring expenses on route.

Just remember, every ten minutes wasted each day adds up to a full working week each year. Waste more than ten minutes every day and you are seriously limiting your annual profit turnover.

That proves time really is money and we must all use it wisely.

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