Want to Run Smarter? Increase Your Efficiency
As a small business owner, you can only do so much. You’re on a tight budget, there are customers to service and employees to pay. How do you make the most of your time and money to get the results you want?
The key is increasing your efficiency. Getting better, more efficient results may take a few steps but once you know what goes into improving your processes, you’ll never go back to the status quo. Beyond saving you time and money, a more efficient business is a more valuable business. Here are some things you should keep in mind if you want to increase your business’s efficiency and overall value.
In order to improve your processes, you need a clear of understanding of what they are. You need to have a documentation system in place to both hold your company and staff accountable and make sure that you are providing consistent service.
Document every one of your business processes. How do sales interactions play out? What is the installation process of a new customer? What roles do your employees play? Write them down and post them so that everyone knows what task they are responsible for and you can track any weak links. You can start with the basics but ultimately having robust documentation in place allows you the opportunity to examine each step and determine if it can be simplified or executed in a smarter way.
Having proper documentation is also your insurance policy in case you lose an employee. If only one person knows how a particular task is done, your business is at risk.
Embrace Billing and Accounting Software
Are you using one repository for all of your payables and receivables? Do you have to check three different places to track a customer’s billing and payment history? Are you still keeping payments in a notebook?
Invoicing, billing and collections can drag any small business down. Manual, inefficient management of the cash in and out of your company eats into valuable time you could be spending in product development and customer sales.
Make your billing and accounting software do the lifting for you. Quickbooks and Probill and are just a couple of options. Do your research, compare prices, and ask around to find the best program to fit your needs. And keep in mind that what you get out of these programs is only as good as what you put in!
Add to Your Tool Box
And no, we don’t mean Phillips head screwdrivers. Look at the interactions in your customers’ lifecycle; from awareness marketing, sales follow up and customer onboarding, to on-going customer retention, communication and feedback.
Automation tools are available for every stage that will raise the quality and consistency of those communications. For instance, marketing automation software like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign can make sure you stay in touch with potential customers giving them personalized follow up until they are ready to make a buying decision. Scheduling programs like Buffer or Hootsuite can increase your presence on social media, raising awareness while decreasing the time needed to do so. Tools like Eloqua or Marketo can help you manage marketing campaigns more holistically, by monitoring email and analytics.
It may take some time to find a program or set of tools that work best for your company’s needs. But the time spent will allow your team to better monitor your company’s reach with customers, and help to stabilize and increase incoming leads.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource
Any task you do repetitively is an opportunity for delegation. Always be on the lookout for tasks that are keeping you away from higher-value activities. Whether you outsource internally or solicit the work of a freelancer, don’t fall prey to the excuse that “It’ll take longer for me to tell them what to do, than to just do it myself.”
True, the first time through it can take some effort to document your process and train someone to do it (unless you’ve already applied the first tip above), but it’s worth the effort. It’s the only way to free up your time so you can take care of what’s important – formulating short term and long term strategies for your business.
If you’re distracted by the small stuff that comes at you daily (and that happens to every business owner), you don’t have time to focus on the big picture. And if you don’t make the time to work on the activities that increase your sales and profits, who will?
Adopting new tools and software, documenting your processes, and outsourcing tasks that allow you to focus on higher-value activities are simple but effective ways to make an incredible impact on your business’s efficiency. Each process you document, manage and improve not only saves time, but continues to multiply the value it brings to you and your company.
What have you found that has helped you increase your company’s efficiency? Send us an email and continue the conversation.