Overwhelmed? 4 Ways to an Efficient Small Business
In the swirl of activity and excitement of launching a business it is easy to become overwhelmed with day-to- day activity. This occurs even to the point of the business owner wishing they could spend more time on value added activities like strategic planning, business or product development and more. There is always a lot to be done and very little time to do it in. This is where efficiency comes in.
Efficiency means to minimize waste in effort, materials, energy, money, and time in producing goods or services. Large businesses have incredible difficulties in improving efficiencies due to their own bureaucracies, regulations and possible labor collective bargaining agreements. The good news is there is hope in improving small business efficiency. The small business model is a lot more flexible and has the ability to make changes quickly.
Here are 4 ways to an efficient small business:
1. Hire the best and develop the rest
Think big. Don’t limit yourself in your ability to hire the best talent. The truth is many people have become disenfranchised with the big corporate business model. Especially after the great recession many people would much rather plug into to a business that connects them to a greater purpose. The more your team members know how to do, the easier it is to accomplish business objectives. Further, you can delegate tasks so that you can focus on higher level strategic planning and business development activities.
Don’t forget to develop your team members. Through cross training team members, your business can overcome absenteeism and be flexible to rising above unexpected peak customer demands.
The key to this strategy is to hire people who are flexible and willing to learn new things. Communicate clear expectations with you team that learning how to do more than one function with upbeat enthusiasm is a key to success at your company.
2. Outsource to become both efficient and competitive
Non-core activities are day-to-day routine tasks that do not add value to your customer, your brand, or your profits. On the other hand core activities are tasks that drive value and profits. It is a myth that one should only outsource non-core activities. In some cases businesses may have options to outsource both non-core and core activities to not only become more efficient but also more competitive in one fell swoop.
Let’s face it as an entrepreneur it is sometimes hard to let go. Many times that is how the business started, by one or a few, doing it all. There is a saying that I have found helpful, “you can be good by yourself, or brilliant with others.” Carving out tasks and freeing up your time to focus on business development, customers and strategic planning can have significant benefits for your company.
To get started evaluating if this is the right option, sit down and consider how outsourcing my link to your overall strategic plan. Evaluate whether the task will bring a competitive advantage and if you have strong internal resources to optimize the task. Determine which tasks will benefit your organization the most by being done internally or externally.
3. Technology should serve your business, not the other way around
Don’t invest in new technology just for the sake of it. During sales conversations, there are a lot of promises made. There is nothing worse than investing in a new solution just to find that it doesn’t live up to what was promised or that it hinders versus help your ability to drive business results.
One key tip to make sure your technology investment is worthwhile is to check into the references of the technology provider. Ask the provider for a list of clients and conduct actual site visits. See for yourself how the solution works and doesn’t work. Ask the provider’s client if they had to go back in time and make the decision all over again, would they go with this same technology solution.
Also it’s important to factor in the cost of training as well as the purchase price of the new software. Look for ease of use of the product and whether or not the vendor also includes training for staff. Make sure the product really does reduce time spent on non-value added tasks versus adding burdensome processes to your staff.
4. Tame the spam and clutter monsters
According to studies spam amounts to about 14.5 billion messages per day which makes up about 45% of all emails. While we have spam filters on many business leaders feel spam still has a negative impact. Radicati Research Group Inc., a research firm based in Palo Alto, California, estimates that spam costs businesses $20.5 billion annually in decreased productivity as well as in technical expenses. Further research estimates that the average loss per employee annually because of spam is approximately $1,934.
The ultimate risk for the small business owner is having valued messages being drowned out by meaningless noise. Have you ever accidentally delete an email that contained important information in the quest of clearing out unwanted messages?
The step I take to combat this problem is an annual event. At the beginning of every calendar year I like to opt out of spam messages and organize my email box and well as my files in general. This step is not just about deleting emails, but it also is about starting the year out on a clean slate. Seeing less meaningless email activity and more messages from those we want to hear from can be completely energizing. Plus this helps put you in the mindset of accomplishing more.
Take charge. Remove meaningless activity from your day and spend more time on building your business. Taking these steps should put you on the path of efficiency.
Special Note: Kabbage is a valuable resource for small business owners in need of funding – their loans can be used for anything a small business needs to grow. Whether it’s used to hire new talent, outsource tasks, or invest in technology, a small business loan from Kabbage can provide the capital a growing business needs.
Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry.
Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite (www.hrcsuite.com). HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result.
She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.