A good business strategy includes the right structures, planning, business apps and other technologies to improve efficiency. Learn how to increase productivity in the workplace, making your business faster, leaner and more profitable.
It’s the holy grail for small business owners – finding ways to make efficiency savings in all aspects of their operations. The good news is there are plenty of tools, tips and techniques available to help them make cost savings and boost productivity.
Without a business plan, an organisation is like a man without a backbone. It is a vital key to running any kind of business. It is a type of manifesto that outlines your goals, business objective and projected growth. More importantly, creating a business plan will help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals. It can be in any format like; what sales numbers you need to meet in order to break even along with specific goals you have for the growth or improvement of the business.
As one person, you can only do so much in your business, especially when you are juggling multiple roles at home and in business. So instead of trying to do everything yourself, focus on your key strengths and outsource the rest to employees, freelancers, specialist organisations or alliances, depending on what suits your business model best.
Having a strong, trusted team of people you can delegate tasks to, and the systems and procedures to support this process can help your business become more efficient and increase its capacity to earn.
Automate and systemise your business to be more efficient. Develop scripts, create templates of frequently used documents, forms, quotes and emails, and write and schedule auto-responders, social media updates and blog posts. Constantly be looking for ways to make tasks easier and more streamlined.
If you are outsourcing or looking to outsource tasks, it’s also a good idea to put together flow charts, checklists and step-by-step guides so you can outsource tasks easily with minimal direction.
Core activities are an essential and vital component of any organisation. If the organisation focus more on it and give more time into those activities, then it would help you keep ahead of competitors.
After outsourcing your non-core business activities to a third party, you would have sufficient time to manage and focus on your core business practices with using limited resources. Everyone knows that small business owner has limited resources in terms of time and cash. Therefore a business needs to use all available resources like (Investing in your most competitive capabilities to build market share, managing recessionary period, develop new products or services and move ahead of competitors.) at their disposal.
Technology can both help and hinder operational processes, so carefully evaluate each piece of tech in your company. Your tech toolbox includes everything from the apps your team uses to communicate and collaborate, such as Slack or Dropbox, to the software employees use to perform discrete work tasks. As you evaluate your technology, consider your employees’ workday and your customer’s journey. Poll your team members to get their feedback on current systems and better identify technology that isn’t often used. Upon reviewing your tech, you may discover you have too many applications performing redundant tasks. Removing one or more could minimise handoffs and reduce support costs.
You may need to rediscover what each tech tool can—and can’t—do. Many software solutions allow you to automate certain jobs, such as scheduling social media posts or team meetings, freeing workers to concentrate on higher-level assignments that require a human touch.
With laptops, smartphones, tablets and innovative programs and apps, running your business efficiently and on-the-go has never been easier.
From bookkeeping and billing to client relations and marketing campaign management, there are so many ways to use technology in your business to reduce the time you spend on tasks and make the time spent more productive.
You can uncover relevant programs and apps by doing a Google search, reading blogs and app guides or asking those you know what works for them.
On the other hand, you may have tech in your workplace with incompatible interfaces. When employees are forced to move from one unintegrated system to another, inefficiencies and errors are bound to occur. Do you have legacy software that can’t “talk” to other platforms? You may need to invest in a new suite of solutions that communicate with ease to improve your efficiency.
Having a fluid and constantly updating work system will reduce data and information loss. The ‘Cloud’ is a digital space that can incorporate the majority of business processes. From typing up content to sending and receiving emails, the cloud offers a threat and human error-free space for companies to grow. Below are some key and highly reputable cloud vendors that offer services to promote ease of use online system.
Google offers a range of software that allows for a constantly updating and saving format that just about eliminates loss. Google docs are the ‘office word’ of the future. The web-based platform allows for easy sharing and also constantly saves any progress as in real-time.
This is a secure file sharing and storage space that is easily accessible from any device that has a connection to the internet. Physical loss or damage cannot occur due to the multiple locational storage systems in place; this means that sensitive business data and information won’t be either lost or stolen.
A well rounded emailing system will allow businesses both small and large the ability to communicate effortlessly around the globe. The exchange has platforms for any device that all share and store data and content online. This safe and unmonitored communication medium promotes a seamless business environment.
The task of telling people what to do may have people cringe. Not wanting to develop negative business relationships is a good thing, but if it’s at the expense of your time, then it will impact the business financially. Here are some key factors in delegating effectively.
You wouldn’t tell your 3-year-old child to service your car; it is important to make sure the people your selection have the right qualifications and experience necessary to undertake the role. Make sure you understand what the task requires and choose the appropriate people with relevant knowledge in the subject to attend.
Knowing that people have varying skill levels is a good first step to understanding how particular long tasks will take. This is especially true if the person has never done something similar to it before. Respect the time it takes and understand from other points of view what is expected.
Everybody likes to be acknowledged when they do something well. It has been proven that maintaining a promotive and enthusiastic environment in the workplace will boost morale and also a noticeable spike in productivity.
The humble template is also a great way to boost effectiveness. Having methods to eliminate mundane tasks, for example, contact outlines with repetitive details that are used for every client already made will decrease such wasted time substantially. Re-writing content that could simply be pasted in will compound, and everyone will agree a much better way to eliminate such wasted time. Such templates to maximise efficiency are:
For businesses that have multiple similar contracts, the ability to easily switch and change the relevant words and numbers will save hours. Hours that also translates into money by way of wages. Cut your cost, maximise on efficiency and use templates.
It might seem small, but the few seconds it takes to write ‘regards etc.’ can be eliminated through settings. Those few seconds add up and when eliminated, can save countless hours in the long term.
When a small business is constantly undergoing growth and change, relying on business plans and objectives is essential—having such plans that all look the same and relevant to everybody will promote and ease of understanding across the entire organisation. This in turn, will promote communication and the changes in general.
Being informed financially is a key part of being efficient in business. When you know the financial position of your business, you make smarter business decisions, and you are more strategic about how you use your resources.
Looking at your profit and loss, assured income versus expenses, break-even point and working budget regularly, ensures you not only operate within your means but are also more efficient in getting from where you are now to where you want to be.
The office is a second home for an employee, and it should be with all modern facility and amenities. Employees are happier if they like their office space. If you take the example of Google, how they have created an employee-friendly environment wherein employee work at their favourite comfort zone like sitting on a sofa, cafeteria etc. So to run a business successfully, it’s mandatory to ensure that the employee works in a comfortable and healthy environment. An environmentally-friendly workplace not only improves employee satisfaction but also will save money after the initial investments, and it also improves your standing of a business.
It’s tough to operate efficiently if you and your team are constantly distracted. Researchers have suggested that it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from an unexpected interruption. When disturbances like unscheduled meetings and nagging email alerts run amok, they chew away at productivity. Speak with your team members about their preferred methods of halting such frustrating intrusions. Some business leaders recommend blocking off time on employee calendars for focused work, putting devices into aeroplane mode, and even working from home when projects require a laser focus.
Teach everyone on your team that it’s OK to carve out do-not-disturb time regularly to tackle their core duties. Establishing mutual blocks of focused work time for your team, once we trained people how to ask, how to set them up, and how to honour them, we found not only qualitative improvements in workers but quantitatively, one of our clients said that, if they were conservative, they estimated personal productivity shot up 40 to 60 per cent, maybe more.
Before enjoying a well-deserved glass of eggnog at your end-of-year holiday party or scheduling some late-December vacation days, take some time to plan out steps for a more efficient new year. That way, your team can hit the ground running Jan. 2, ready to handle whatever comes its way.
Communication is the foundation of every single relationship you have in either your personal life or professional life. Without effective and transparent communication, misunderstandings, conflicts among your staff, your clients or other miscommunication can occur. With poor or improper communication methods, it very hard to make an effective delegation, increase productivity and an enjoyable work environment virtually impossible.
Always use different –different communication method at the different-different level. For example, face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication is great for eliminating the time challenges that often come with the email. Another side some people use a phone or at networking to create summary emails that outline what was discussed. So this can be a great way to combine different communication methods for more effective (and less confusing) forward-moving communication.
For many enterprises, the warehouse is the centre of the company. When your operations there are efficient, your company is better able to keep customers happy, whereas warehouse inefficiencies can lead to losses and harm your credibility. There are myriad tech solutions that can boost the efficiency of your warehouse. Some of the largest brands in the world, like Amazon, have acquired robotics firms like Kiva Systems and automated a great deal of their warehouse management, while growing jobs, increasing efficiency and faster delivery times with fewer shipping errors. By using robots to transport pallets across its warehouses, the e-commerce giant can save its human workers time and physical strain without replacing them.
If robots are too big a step for your company, consider real-time location systems, which use geolocation technology to track the locations of objects in real-time. You can attach RTLS tags to things and people, helping you find what (and whom) you need in your warehouse more quickly. A strong warehouse management system will flag potential errors and recommend a plan for ongoing upkeep to ensure your warehouse stays organised. Having your team take 10 minutes a day to check for and fix minor errors is a far better alternative than spending two hours a day tracking down products that have been mislabeled or misplaced.
To make your marketing more efficient and your budget goes further, focus your marketing efforts towards the people who are most likely to buy from you. By identifying your most profitable target markets, you can determine what message to target them with and where, when and how to reach them.
When you do a little research and take a strategic approach to your marketing, you not only save more time, money and effort, you also make more money through sales due to more relevant and targeted marketing messages.
Understand your customer’s needs and develop products and services that meet those needs. You can gain insight into your customers by personalising your services and encouraging them to provide you with feedback.
Ensure your customer service is exceptional and go the extra mile when you can. Your customers will not only remember great service; they will also be more likely to refer other people to you.
Have strategies in place to nurture existing customers, such as staying in contact with them via an e-newsletter or letting them know about promotional events ahead of time.
At the same time, look for opportunities to get more work and build your customer base. Make sure you find the right balance between nurturing customers and finding new ones.
If you own or operate an Aboriginal business, you can also promote your business by taking advantage of a free listing on the Aboriginal Business Directory Western Australia (ABDWA). An increasing number of State Government and private organisations are looking to work with Aboriginal businesses and use the directory to search for relevant suppliers.
Social media is a powerful tool to promote your business to potential customers and gain valuable insight through ‘social listening’. Through social listening, you can find out what customers are saying about you, gain insight into their behaviour, identify keywords and trends that appeal to your target market and so improve your customer service. Social media can help you to build your business profile and attract new customers.
Invest time to build your networks – it’s not what you know but who you know.
Networking allows you to build relationships with other people and encourage them to refer customers to you through word of mouth.
Hosting your own event can be a great way to get to know your customers and build relationships. Invite some of your best existing customers and encourage them to bring their friends.
Building brand awareness in your local community is a great way to attract new business. Consider a sponsorship or participating in a community event to raise your business profile.
You should monitor where your customers are coming from to measure whether your marketing activities are successful or not. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Refine your approach if something is not working and focus more time on the activities that achieve the best results.
Efficiency should be one of your top priorities if you want your business to thrive and grow. Without efficient systems in place, each phase of growth will only cause more issues, perpetuating the cycle of inefficiency. Take a close look at your company. If you can honestly say that everything was designed and built for the most efficient workflow, you’re already miles ahead of your competition.
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