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How Using Technology Gave These Small Businesses Their Precious Time Back

Giaco Furino for Mailchimp
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Illustration: David Saracino
Get Ready To...Get Ready To...Running a small business is hard work, but we're here to help. Welcome to Work Smarter, your one-stop-shop for tips and tricks to help small business owners save time and energy.

There’s nothing more precious to a small business owner than time. When it’s all on you to keep a company running, it can be hard to manage your workload effectively, and the smallest unexpected roadblock could wind up sinking your day. So how can small business owners protect against wasted hours? It’s all about using technology smarter to keep from working harder than you need to. To that end, we’ve put together some helpful tips to keep your days from slipping away.

Let Social Media Do the Heavy Lifting

As a small business owner, staying in touch with your clients and potential customers can seem like a true time drain, but it’s crucially important.

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For Carrie Gravenson, owner of Unjumbler Professional Organizing, continuing the conversation with her customers is vital to her business. “Former clients are reminded that you exist, and you’re fresh in their minds,” explains Gravenson. “A lot of my clients are fascinated by my life, I tell little stories about that and other ways that I keep my own apartment organized.” To do so, she uses social media to add a personal touch to her brand and keep her name in front of clients. This saves her time by not having to reach out individually and on a case-by-case basis.

Mailchimp’s social media tools are a great fix for this, where you can create ads and organic social posts for Facebook and Instagram, retarget people who visited your website, and track their performance, all in one place.

Use Calendars and Auto-Scheduling to Find Pockets of Time

As a small business owner, sometimes “9 to 5” can turn into “7 a.m. to midnight.” Sticking to a strict schedule is crucial to maintaining that ever-illusive work-life balance. Though it may seem obvious, keeping a tight digital calendar is a crucial first step.

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Michelle Higa Fox, the founder of animation company Slanted Studios, knows how essential this can be to your work-life balance. While it’s hard to stick to a calendar, setting a good precedent with her coworkers and clients is important for maintaining boundaries. “We [schedule] things to be emailed during work hours so that — both internally for our team and externally for clients — we understand that email correspondence will happen during the work day, as opposed to the crazy 10 p.m. or 1 a.m. email,” she explains. “We’re trying to keep the majority of business happening during business hours.”

The key to keeping your days structured and more productive is in careful calendar management. By planning out the day and utilizing all the features of a digital calendar — like linking to reference materials needed in the description of a calendar event, or blocking off time to get work done — it’s easy to keep an unwieldy day on track.

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Cut Time With Pre-Built Campaigns

Crafting the perfect brand campaign from scratch can be an arduous and time consuming endeavor. But choosing a pre-built campaign that can see you through from concept to launch can shave hours off your workload and make you look more professional throughout. With Mailchimp’s campaign templates, you can choose from over 100 designs to fit your brand style and identity, drive app downloads and launch new products, and promote sales in record time. Any way that you can take some of the design burden off your small business will always be a huge boon to your workflow, and trusting a platform with smart design sense will ensure your brand looks sharp.

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Use Automation to Do Your Job for You

Emily Izakowitz is the founder of Events By Emily, an event planning and consulting company in Durham, North Carolina. In her business, the status quo is generally not the most tech-forward. But Emily embraces tech, saying, “my clients appreciate that I have a technology-based system, instead of just paper.” She explains that this helps keep things organized, and makes paying vendors painless. She uses several different event planning-specific programs, which all utilize automation to keep things running smoothly. One of her favorites is a platform that automates seating charts for venues, pulling in and digitally representing blueprints. “This just allows for a lot more creativity if I’m not bogged down with logistics. It allows me to focus more on design work.”

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Another area where automation can really help is marketing. Whether you’re an event planner, running a design firm, or own your own small retail shop, utilizing Mailchimp’s always-on marketing platform will save you tons of time as you let tech handle your busy work. From abandoned cart emails (reminding people to complete their purchases), to customer re-engagement and date-based automations (sending happy birthday notes), automation can make your business run smoother and give it a more personal feeling.

For easy-to-use, all-in-one marketing solutions, give Mailchimp a try and see how they can help you with a full suite of time-saving tools, from smart recommendations to start-to-finish campaign programs.

Giaco Furino is Senior Writer for Studio@Gizmodo.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Mailchimp and Studio@Gizmodo.

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