If there is one thing that makes small business owners go crazy, it’s inefficiencies in their business. Inefficiencies cost money, time, and even clients. Each dollar and each minute of your day counts when you are a businessperson. The worst thing you can afford is business inefficiencies, primarily when streamlined alternatives exist.
Most small business owners feel free to change, but they do not always know where to look for it or how to achieve it. After all, keeping your daily operations floating is a full-time job in its own right. This makes it difficult to find time to step back and look at the processes of your company and workflows to find areas of improvement.
Every small business is unique, but most experience similar operational setbacks and inefficiencies. This is especially true when interacting effectively, delegating authority, managing inventory, and managing small business investments. Here are five easy ways to make your business more effective, regardless of your industry.
1. Don’t be afraid to kill underperforming products
Writers have a saying about how to manage plot lines and characters that do not fit: “Kill your darlings.” To kill your darlings is to get rid of what does not work. And as a small business owner, sometimes you have to kill off an underperforming product or service.
Letting go of what doesn’t work frees up bandwidth, budget, and attention for the parts of your business that are driving revenue and bringing in new customers. It’s not always easy to kill your small business darlings, particularly if what’s on the chopping block was once expected to be a blockbuster success. Maybe the product or service in question was what you used to launch your business, but you’ve found that it just doesn’t fit your business model anymore.
As hard as it is to cut it loose, it’s what you need to do to make your company more efficient. It’s better to make these tough choices than to fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy, business-speak for throwing money at failing ideas and funding plans that don’t return dividends.
2. Embrace digital platforms
If you have not ditched paper and pen to run your business yet, you’re missing out on an important efficiency opportunity. Paper records are hard to organize and easy to misfile. They can even lead to missed business opportunities if your relevant business card ends up in the circular file. It might seem daunting at first to onboard small business management tools (especially if you’re a technophobe), but the ounce of pain you feel at the beginning is better than the agony of disorganization.
Business software and platforms can replace just about anything you currently manage by hand. You’ll free up your time to focus on other elements of your business, and you’ll get a better record-keeping system that reduces the risk of human error. Plus, you can tout how digitally savvy your company is, which gives you an edge on the competition.
3. Use communications and productivity software
Digital tools don’t just help you manage business operations. They can also make communication easier for your staff. Email, although vital for every business, can be a challenging way for your team to communicate.
Instead of blasting out yet another email, modern communication platforms like Slack can help employees talk in real-time, reducing the need to read and reply to personal emails.
4. Track your cash flow
Although technology gives a lot of efficiency opportunities; there are other tactics you can use to make your company run more effectively without having to onboard new platforms. In fact, one of the major efficiency boosters is keeping better track of your finances — and for that, you will want to look at cash flow.
There are various ways to take control of your cash flow analysis. Some are digitally made and come as part of an accounting platform or software package. Others can be self-driven by way of spreadsheets that you operate manually. No matter which cash flow analysis method works good for you, be sure to keep an eye on this important metric if you want a better view of potential financial inefficiencies within your business.
5. Empower your employees
The best thing you can do, as a small business owner, is to empower your best employees to make their own decisions. As long as you have a few trusted employees who know the business almost as well (or, ideally, just as well) as you do, you can provide them with the autonomy to handle on-the-fly situations and make decisions.
Delegating responsibilities isn’t just great for your workflow. It’s also an excellent way to keep your best employees engaged and motivated in their roles.
No matter which tactics you embrace to make your business more efficient, the most important thing you can do is keep an open mind. The small business owner who isn’t afraid to innovate, take risks, and think like a scientist (that is, experiment and review results) is the entrepreneur who may find new opportunities as a result. Even if some of your efforts don’t pay off immediately, you’ll prime your company’s mindset for future growth through innovative thinking. Eventually, you’ll find the efficiencies you’re looking for.