Posted 6 months ago by Tracy
Running a business is difficult. Whether it’s managing cash flow, optimising sales channels, or reviewing internal processes, there’s a lot for businesses to keep on top of.
With so much to juggle, sometimes it’s easy for a business’ efficiency to slip. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Below are six different ways to improve your business’ efficiency.
One of the easiest ways to see how your business can improve is to hold a mirror up to your existing business processes to see what is working and what isn’t.
You might want to focus your review on the internal aspects of your business; for example, your employee’s current productivity levels, or whether your business website is easy enough for potential customers to navigate.
Once you’ve identified any potential problem areas, think about how improvements can be made. For example, a re-jig of your business website might be in order, or you might want to improve staff training and development, or tweak work allocations to get the most out of your employees.
There are two main areas of inefficiency when it comes to communication in business – emails and meetings.
It’s so easy to communicate with anyone these days, whether that’s members of staff, suppliers, or customers. Whether we’re on our smartphones or laptops, there’s always a way to send a message to someone.
When it comes to inefficient working practices, one issue with this ‘always-on’ mindset is that we tend to send emails in relation to every single issue, regardless of its importance. More often than not, this leads to bloated inboxes and wasted time, as hours are spent answering emails that, arguably, never needed to be sent in the first place.
If you find that your business relies a lot on emails, think about whether there are other ways to communicate. For example, a phone call to a supplier could take a lot less time than writing an email and waiting for a response. Equally, going to speak to a member of staff face-to-face, rather than sending an email might also save you time.
Depending on the size of your business, another area that may warrant examination is how many meetings you and your employees are having. While meetings naturally serve a purpose, in that they can gather all relevant staff in one place to share news and determine what courses of action should be taken, it’s no secret that meetings aren’t always productive.
Whether it’s having too many meetings, too many attendees, or having them too frequently, sometimes meetings can actually bring disruption to a workday. In fact, Elon Musk even went so far as to suggest that:
If you don’t want to take things as far as Elon Musk, then you could look at other ways to improve efficiency in meetings, such as having less frequent meetings, or opting to have one large group meeting every day/week as appropriate to keep all staff in the loop about what’s happening in the business.
Another way to identify where inefficiencies may lie in your business is to encourage – and act on – feedback. Whether that’s gathering feedback from your staff or from customers themselves on their recent experiences with you, feedback is a great way to find out what people’s first-hand experiences have been like with your business, including any shortcomings. For example, you might discover that your staff feel over or underutilised in certain areas, or a few customers might highlight that the delivery of their products or services could have been quicker.
Where feedback has identified areas for improvement, take such comments seriously and see whether there is a way to resolve the points raised.
In the ideal world, every business would be perfectly optimised and run as efficiently as possible. In reality, you may only be able to focus on one or two areas to make more efficient (for example, due to financial constraints).
This is because the idea is to make your business more efficient, but efficiency should not come at the cost of becoming consumed by change management.
As a result, make sure to set realistic goals when thinking about what you’d like to change, and implement whatever processes work best for you and your business.
These goals should ideally be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Try to also set some time aside – for example, 6 or 12 months down the line – for you to sit down and review which changes are working and which aren’t.
Automation seems to have become the buzzword of the past few years, but there is good reason behind that. Where used correctly, automation can remove time-consuming tasks from your staff’s to-do list, leaving them with more time to focus on higher priority work.
There are many parts of a business that can take advantage of automation, including:
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that not every single process in a business needs to be automated. Sometimes, the cost of automating a particular item would prove too high, or it might be that setting up automated features is taking up too much of your time.
The goal is to strike a balance - try to automate what you can to make your business more efficient, but don’t prioritise automation to the point that it actually distracts you from running your business.
Another easy way to help your business run more efficiently is to make sure that you’re making the most of cloud-based accounting software, such as AccountsPortal.
AccountsPortal is designed with small businesses in mind. Whether you want to check your stock levels, issue an invoice, or keep up to date with your real-time financial performance, using cloud-based accounting software can be a fuss-free way to manage your business’ finances.
Find out more information about AccountsPortal, including our 30-day free trial.