Small businesses often struggle to have efficient, streamlined, and growth-oriented functions. While efficiency is vital for large businesses, many small online and in-person businesses lack the management, funds, and business education to achieve the same level of proficiency. However, by implementing a few small changes and modeling the processes that larger companies use when appropriate and possible, smaller companies can also become more efficient and achieve better growth.
Automating processes helps businesses be more accurate and save time. Repetitive tasks such as invoicing, payroll, and inventory management can be time-consuming and are easy to automate with software. In some cases, the entire task cannot be automated but parts of it can, such as organization, accounting, storage, data management, and marketing. Computer programs in combination with carefully created workflows and instructions can help make these processes more efficient and less error-prone for employees. It can also make the job less frustrating and less tedious.
Use Cloud-Based Tools
Use cloud-based tools such as project management software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and file-sharing platforms to increase collaboration and accessibility. Cloud-based tools can allow your business access to the most sophisticated and advanced software because you can often purchase only the services and accounts that you need. In addition, by using subscription or cloud-based services, you will be able to take advantage of large, advanced programs without wasting storage space on your business hard drives. Finally, you can often find specialized, niche-focused tools that fit your business needs, such as cloud-based software for behavioral health that is ready for your clinic to begin using right away, requiring less customization and set-up time compared with generic business software.
Outsource Non-Core Functions
Consider outsourcing non-core functions such as accounting, IT support, social media management, and marketing to free up your time and focus on your core business operations. Businesses such as medical clinics, stores, and offices can also outsource some physical tasks such as cleaning, maintenance, and customer service, which can relieve employees from doing tasks outside of their job description and make them happier with their position. Outsourcing can even be cheaper and more effective for your business because paying a professional to do what they are good at often means the job is done faster, more effectively, and better than when relying on employees who were not trained in that task.
In many cases, efficiency in a business comes down to processes. Map out your business processes and identify areas where bottlenecks occur, where employees are confused as to their tasks, or where overlaps are happening. Look for ways to streamline workflows and eliminate unnecessary steps to increase efficiency.
In some cases, streamlining can mean eliminating unneeded tasks, delegating them to more qualified people, or finding a way to automate them. In other cases, it might mean breaking the tasks into smaller steps and assigning them to different people so each team member can focus on one thing at a time. Finally, you can also streamline by creating an assembly-line system for processes that lets you complete small tasks in batches rather than finishing the entire process separately for each workflow item.
Set Clear Goals
Establish clear goals and objectives for your business and communicate them to your team. This will help everyone stay focused and aligned toward achieving the same targets, and will help you stay on track and motivated. Goals that are understandable and attainable are important for helping a business grow and improve.
You can improve morale and productivity by taking steps such as writing a mission statement, creating a timeline for your goals, and collaborating with your team about the direction your business is going. Celebrate your team when goals are met by throwing a party, bringing in a catered meal, holding awards ceremonies, or handing out bonuses to keep everyone motivated.
Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. Remember, we often get caught up in urgent but unimportant things and let the more essential tasks slide, which can create a backlog and cause breakdowns in customer relationships. It is also easy to allow busyness to create an atmosphere where everyone on the team feels like they are working but nothing important is getting completed. Instead, use prioritization and keep your goals in mind when assigning tasks and planning work schedules. Use a task management tool to keep track of your to-do list and your priorities, and schedule your day accordingly. Some people find it helpful to decide on the most important thing each day and do that thing first. Once you have successfully completed your most important task, the rest of the day is more likely to be productive and successful.
Many small business owners have spent years creating their companies, and in some cases, they had no employees or help for much of that time. Once owners need to expand the business and start hiring a team, many of them have a hard time giving up the work they have done and delegating it to employees. However, delegating tasks to your team members empowers them and increases their engagement and motivation. It helps them feel valued and part of the team.
At the same time, it will also free up your time to focus on more important tasks or those things that your team can’t or shouldn’t be responsible for. By choosing jobs for your team and leaving yourself with fewer tasks, you will be able to grow the business and expand in ways you couldn’t before, as well as do your job more effectively and better.
Invest in Training
Invest in training for yourself and your employees to increase their skills and knowledge. Training and education allow your team to have a better understanding of their work and function better together. This will increase their productivity and help them perform their roles more effectively. Paying for training and education that will further your employees’ careers and get them certifications and licenses can also be a good way to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Management and leadership training for you can also help your business function more effectively, help you to be a better manager and employer, and help you create better growth.
Making changes that lead to more a efficient and productive business can be difficult and take time and money. However, once the changes have been implemented and have had a chance to influence outcomes, your business will begin saving time and resources and will become more efficient.