Running your small business as efficiently as possible is vital for its continued success in the ever-changing marketplace. Achieving maximum productivity in everything your business does is a difficult feat but it is entirely possible with the right strategy in place.
Efficiency is crucial to your success as a small business because it:
- Increases Operational Organization
- Reduces Unnecessary Costs
- Improves Customer Satisfaction
- Keeps Your Business Ahead of the Competition
Author Jarod Kintz said it best, "My goal is to do the most with the least -- get the maximum output with the minimum input. " Take this mantra into mind and adopt these five lessons in efficiency today to better prepare your small business for future challenges.
1. Consistently analyze how you're acquiring customers, whether it's foot or web traffic.
Customers obviously pay the bills, therefore understanding how customers are finding your business offline, online or both is necessary to help your business continue to prosper. To remain efficient at analyzing this data, set up a consistent process for reporting on your traffic twice a week.
For analyzing in-store traffic try one of two approaches, have all employees ask customers at the point of purchase if this is their first visit to the store and how they heard of the business. Make it clear that this information gathering is only useful if it is entered on a standardized spreadsheet and everyone is adding to it in the same way. Secondly, including an incentivized customer survey on your receipts will help gather valuable info about your customers. Use Shoppers Critique or NextPunch to survey customers at your retail location through their receipt or through a mobile or tablet signup form.
In terms of online traffic, install Google Analytics for your website from the beginning because it's free and will continue to provide in depth insights on your traffic. Analyze the inbound traffic to your website weekly to understand what social media channels, blogs, websites, emails, ads or search engines are driving traffic to your website. These insights will allow you to quickly understand if you are losing or gaining traffic, informing your next strategic step towards growing the business to an efficient operation.
2. Make it easier for your team to work together.
Collaboration is the key to efficiency. If your team isn't on the same page with the organized strategies and processes that you're implementing, then they won't work. Empower your employees with both the knowledge of the processes you're trying to standardize as well as the tools to help do so.
Communication is also a huge factor in the success of your business, which is why it's vital to rely on efficient tools to streamline your company wide dialogue. Conference call services that offer affordable pricing, like Vast Conference or join.me, ease of use in office or remotely and have high quality audio are necessary to quickly communicate with your team without any technical issues slowing down your progress.
3. Always be mindful of your employees happiness and well-being.
The happiness of your employees should be your top priority. Make your company culture like a family and less like a group of coworkers. Treat your employees with the respect that they deserve to show them they are an equal and should be treated as such. Continue to reward your team whenever you can with recognition, which doesn't always have to be in the form of raises and bonuses. Be sure to also incorporate fun activities outside of the work environment to connect with your team and allow them to connect with one another in a stress free setting.
The happier your employees are at work, the more efficient they will be in their daily responsibilities and more likely to stay with your company in the long-term which saves your business money and sets a positive tone.
4. Standardized your documents, no matter how small your business is.
Utilizing Excel or Google Drive to orchestrate standardized documents across your company at all levels is another way to ensure every aspect of your business is as efficient as possible. Whenever a new document is needed for your company, take the extra step to standardize its look and layout since this will save you and your employees' valuable time in the long term.
Apply a strict policy of standardization with all employees when it comes to every document from payroll to timesheets. Sloppy paperwork can quickly lead to wasted time and money, which is the reason why standardization from the beginning and reinforcement from leadership is critical to remain efficient.
5. Understand and analyze how your time is spent every workday.
One of the biggest enemies of efficiency is wasted time. Starting today it's time to understand where time is spent at your business and on what tasks. Purchase an online time tracking tool like Harvest or Freckle to begin monitoring your time and then analyzing the results. Consistently seeing where time is spent amongst your business will quickly help you understand what tasks your team needs to spend more or less time on, making your workday more efficient overall.
How does your business remain efficient? Share your efficiency tactics in the comments below.