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Running your own business is a dream scenario for many people, and it seems it's fast becoming a reality for more entrepreneurs. Last year the UK saw a record number of new start-ups formed, with more than 657,000 businesses created, up from 608,000 the previous year.
Whilst there are many benefits to being your own boss, there are also drawbacks, and one of the most common is difficulty in maintaining a good work-life balance. According to Bizdaq's Small Business Owner Wellbeing Report 2016, small business owners in the UK work an average of 50.5 hours a week - over 13 hours more than other Britons. As a result, 1.7 million small business owners say they are unhappy with their work-life balance.
So what can be done about this? There are lots of ways small businesses owners can claw back time and regain a healthy work-life balance. Here are our five useful tips to show you how:
1. Keep an eye on your time
How often do you start what should be a small task, only to look up to find hours have gone by and the light is fading? Time management can be a major headache for business owners and it's all too easy to lose track of how long things should take. One solution is to use an app such as Timely to log your hours, allowing you to see exactly where your efforts are going. Doing this can not only help ensure you're billing clients appropriately, but can identify activities that are taking longer than they should.
2. Automate your everyday activities
However, there are a number of solutions available to help automate processes like data entry and accounting requirements. For instance, tools that integrate areas such as sales platforms, CRM platforms and accounting apps mean you won't have to re-enter data between different programs.
And this is far from the only solution you can turn to tech tools for. For example, if you're still scheduling tweets or sending off email campaigns manually, you could really benefit from tools such as Hootsuite or ActiveCampaign to take the hassle out of this.
3. Get faster connectivity
Another serious hindrance to a good work-life balance can be slow connectivity. If you're spending time waiting for a file to download or struggling to maintain a good wireless connection to respond to customer queries, this can quickly add up to hours wasted over the course of a week, which will have to be made up when you should be enjoying downtime. But with so much business activity now taking place online - particularly with the rise of cloud-based tools and VoiP technology - a fast and reliable connection means you can get everything done much faster and free up time. You can find out more about the range of connectivity services TalkTalk Business has to offer here.
4. Be flexible
For many people, the commute to and from work can be one of the most unpleasant parts of their day, but it doesn't have to be. Being a business owner means you don't have to stick to the typical nine-to-five, and with a range of web and cloud-based tools including Hosted Voice that can be accessed from anywhere, you don't need to be at your desk to manage the running of the company. Whether it's checking up on things via smartphone on the morning train or logging in from home so you can spend more time with your family, flexibility is essential to maintaining a strong work-life balance.
5. Know when to say no
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of running a small business is knowing when to switch off. Even if you've followed the tips above and regained time, it can be all too easy to turn this spare time back into the business instead of taking a much-needed break. Business owners often face demands from all sides, so it's essential that from time to time, you're able to say no to requests. Don't be afraid to delegate tasks to your employees where possible - it'll lighten your load and give you more time to devote to yourself.
Register for more tips and advice here
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As homeworking becomes the new normal, TalkTalk Business explores the technology and connectivity to make it work.