In a previous article, we discussed the four secrets of small business success. Having a clear business plan and a selling strategy are among the things you need to succeed in a market as competitive as it is today. You also want to implement the right technology and make sure that the basics are covered when it comes to the legal needs of your business.
Of course, small business growth (and success) is also about maintaining an efficient operation. You have limited resources to invest in the growth of the company and you want to be meticulous about how those resources – including team members and other business assets – are utilized.
To help you boost business efficiency, here are five expert tips to keep in mind.
One of the simplest ways to boost efficiency is by automating mundane tasks. Even better, there are plenty of tools and solutions that will help you automate most of the repetitive tasks in your workflow. Automating allows you to boost output without consuming more resources; in some cases, you actually consume fewer resources while completing more tasks in hand.
Automating tasks is also easier than you think. Start by reviewing tasks that are repetitive and need to be completed often. Tasks such as sending follow-up emails, documenting sales calls, or even creating invoices for customers are among the things that can be automated immediately. Synchronizing your CRM with other tools you use (such as Kanbanize for project management) is also easy to automate.
The more you automate mundane tasks, the more time and resources you free up for other things. Team members can focus on more important tasks that require human attention, knowing that the mundane tasks they are assigned to are now fully automated.
Better Project Management
Running a business is like running hundreds of small projects at the same time. Tasks associated with your business processes can be seen as smaller projects to complete. This is exactly why good project management is crucial in every business. In order to boost efficiency, project management is the next thing that you need to improve.
There are multiple approaches and methodologies worth exploring if you want to improve project management within the business. The 12 Agile Principles, for instance, aren’t just good for software development projects. They can be adapted to other parts of the business, especially now that you can use tools like Kanbanize to visualize everything.
The Kanban methodology is interesting on its own. It can be adapted to different processes. It allows for tasks to appear visually and makes keeping track of the small projects across your business easy. The Kanban board – especially a digital one – also functions as a suitable platform for better collaboration. Add the fact that the Kanban system is easy to implement and you have the perfect solution to help you manage projects and individual tasks.
Regardless of the scale of your business, face-to-face discussions are still important. Unfortunately, many new businesses deliberately limit face-to-face conversations, thinking that they are a waste of time rather than a useful habit.
Discussions are still very important in a business. Through lively discussions, the entire team can solve mutual problems and clear bottlenecks effectively. As effective as text messages are, actually having face-to-face discussions on important matters is still the way to go.
The three elements that make face-to-face discussion effective are its real-time nature, the context brought by body language and reactions, and of course, the conversation itself. Face-to-face discussions also help eliminate frustrations; they allow for internal communications to go more smoothly, which means output and efficiency are improved as well.
The next thing you can do is eliminate distractions. Distractions negatively impact efficiency. When team members get distracted often, their output – along with things like accuracy and effectiveness – go down. I’m not just talking about external distractions either. Parts of your existing workflows may also create distractions that reduce efficiency.
For example, having team members handle multiple functions at once is exactly the kind of distraction that comes from existing processes. Switching between functions isn’t always easy. It takes time to adjust to the new set of tasks that team members need to handle. Having to make that adjustment several times a day is incredibly distracting.
Rather than implementing this type of cross-function job role, try organizing team members around projects. Each team member can handle a specific set of tasks, but for multiple projects. Eliminating the need to switch from one function to another will help clear the bottleneck and substantially boost efficiency.
Refine and Improve
Last but not least, do a thorough evaluation of your workflows on a regular basis. As seen in the previous example, unsuitable workflows can hamper efficiency and productivity rather than improve them. Work towards creating a system of continuous evaluation and improvement of business processes; this is the ultimate way to boost efficiency to a whole new level.
Workflows that take too long to complete should be shortened and simplified. Instead of asking team members to direct resources for a long, continuous time, break down tasks into smaller chunks that can be completed quickly. Find ways to boost collaboration too since working together is the best way to solve complex problems quickly.
Refining workflows also means sacrificing a few things, mainly your ideas of how a business should be run. There will be times when workflows that you have created from the beginning need to be improved or replaced entirely. These are the times when you have to think about the business more than you think about yourself as the business owner.
Utilize these five expert tips and you will start seeing improvements to efficiency immediately. These are small changes that can be implemented right away. While there may be challenges to solve along the way, those challenges are solvable when you have the support of your team behind you. Besides, the increase in efficiency is worth pursuing. When you have an efficient operation, you gain a valuable competitive advantage that helps you conquer today’s competitive market.