Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:10

Personal life high on small business agenda


Australian small business owners want to work smarter not harder, investing time savings into an improved lifestyle, not into growing their business, according to a newly published report which also reveals that SMEs actually started their business because they thought it was the best way to manage a good work life balance.

A survey by Telstra of more than 1,000 small business owners also found that when asked what they would do with a hypothetical extra hour in the day 43% of small business owners said would choose to spend the time with their family, with only 14% opting to put all the time back into their business.

To find this elusive extra hour, 35% of the small business owners surveyed said they are planning to invest in better technology solutions over the next 12 months.

And, 70% of respondents said they actually started their business because they thought it was the best way to manage a good work life balance.

According to Telstra, the survey showed that most small businesses understand the power of mobile technologies to save time, with 80% using laptops, 75% using smartphones and 40% using a tablet. However, the average small business still spends almost half (47%) of their time on administration tasks, including creating paper based invoices.

“Finishing jobs sooner or getting more done each hour is imperative in any business and the easiest way to do that is by reducing time spent on administrative tasks,” said Will Irving, Group Managing Director, Telstra Business.

“Small business owners are half way there. The survey shows they are using a smartphone or tablet for 8.5 hours during the working week, but they are not taking full advantage of these devices, as only 46% are using mobile business applications and only 25% are using cloud computing to be able to efficiently share critical business information amongst their team.

“Mobile business apps like Canvas, for example, produces invoices on the spot from your smartphone or tablet and makes carbon copy books and re-typing orders into a computer later, a thing of the past. It’s these smart features on mobile devices that have the potential to give businesses back at least an hour in their work day,” Irving said.

Irving says that, with Christmas just around the corner, “getting some extra time to spend with the family is especially important.”

“Cloud computing software such as Microsoft Office365 combined with mobile tablets or laptops lets you get out of the office but keep on top of urgent emails and documents from wherever you are on holiday.

“Mobile solutions can unlock the extra hour for small businesses to invest back into their lifestyle, which was one of the reasons they chose to set up their own business in the first place.”

And, Irving’s offers his top time saving tips to beat the clock:

1.     Own your technology, don’t let it own you: Make sure that the technology tools you choose are set up specifically for you and your business. Get expert advice on making the most of each device using apps and functions that can save you time and money.

2.     Don’t tie yourself to the desk: Cloud computing and mobile devices such as tablets now let you run the business or be on call with the ability to quickly do real work if needed, whether at the office, at home or while travelling.

3.     There is a business app for that: Business apps can make doing business easier when out of the office. Telstra’s Mobile Business Apps including ARISapp, Canvas and GeoOP, take business processes mobile, even replacing pen and paper forms – so you can work during traditional ‘down time’ as well as save time on admin.

4.     Take the time to be flexible: The old notion that a full-time working week is nine to five, 40 hours a week, tied to one location, is fading fast, as customers expect 24/7 service with both employees and employers are seeing the benefits of harnessing a more flexible culture – which in turn improves work/life balance.  

5.     Beat the traffic: Face-to-face time is crucial in building relationships in business, but travel time is often lost time.  Making the most of mobile apps while travelling, or even better, using high quality video conferencing to avoid business travel will save not only travel costs, but also get you home earlier at the end of the day.

6.     Get savvy with Christmas gifts: Personally I will be test driving the brand new Telstra Mobile Wi-Fi 4G Advanced mobile broadband device that lets you connect up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices – perfect for travelling on summer holidays.  Then there’s the new wave of integrated tablets and laptops such as the Toshiba Portégé Z10T which is a fully featured Windows 8 notebook with keyboard when you need it.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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