It’s the goal of most business owners to serve their customers efficiently and cost-effectively. Inefficiency, in its many forms, can be the demise of even the most ambitious entrepreneurs. In fact, inefficiency costs companies on average a whopping 30% of their revenue each year, according to IDC.com.
As a small business owner, it can be a bit overwhelming to keep tabs on all the different components of your operation. Efficiency is all the more important because, compared to your large-sized counterparts, you have a slimmer pick of resources.
You’ll want to find the pitfalls quickly to avoid falling into ineffective habits, whether that’s among your employees, equipment, products, or services.
5 Tips to Make Your Small Business More Efficient
These are 5 ways you can do just that. Plus your customers will be better served, and you’ll save yourself time and money in the long run.
1 - Plan, Plan, and Plan Again
Having a plan is absolutely crucial to the long-term success of your small business. If you don’t already have one, make a business plan, and stat. Outline your goals, benchmarks, and projected growth.
This can be a combination of both personal goals for your company, and specific metrics you want to hit on your journey to the proverbial top. Just make sure your goals are realistic, specific, and measurable, so you don’t set yourself back by overworking your employees or under-utilizing your potential.
2 - Outsource When Applicable
A difficult concept for the type-A entrepreneur is letting go of control, but it can be a much needed boost to overall efficiency. Knowing where you and your employees have expertise, but also where you don’t, is a vital component to outsourcing.
You can work with a firm to find the best deals on certain functions, such as human resources, accounting, administration, payroll, or online marketing (more about that in the next section). A recent study found companies spend an average of 120 days just on administration, and an estimated two months working to file taxes.
That’s valuable time you could be spending on your actual product or service.
By outsourcing some of the more standard tasks, you and your employees can focus on the more specific tasks that are important to your customers.
3 - Use Your Digital Resources
It’s no surprise that online marketing is an unwritten requirement of modern-day business success. Having an active website and social media presence can not only help drive people into your store, but it can also help you make the actual transactions. Job scheduling apps can help you save time too.
Know how these platforms can be used to your advantage, and if you don’t know, use that handy outsourcing idea to connect with someone who does. The return on investment will prove its worth.
We should also take this time to note that if digital platforms are going to play a starring role in your small business, you should invest in fast, reliable broadband.
Technology can be helpful beyond just marketing your business; you can use the technologies at your disposal to automate menial tasks.
Such digital integration allows for better communication and collaboration among employees and customers.
4 - Build Community
Just as when you were looking for a job, networking is key to boosting your small business. Invest effort in discovering experts and niche business owners who can help you establish presence and build roots.
You can join a small business association or reach out to local business publications. Even taking part in events going on in the community is important so folks learn to recognize you, or even better, align your name with what you can provide them.
You should also be looking to create a community among your customers. Seek feedback from your clients. You can find out what they do and don’t like, and increase chances of repeat purchases.
Also seek to create interaction among your customers. Doing something as simple as creating a hashtag for customers to use can help you find a consistent brand and build word-of-mouth recognition. Or consider creating public forums for discussion, which improve upon old ideas and even generate new ones.
Customers in communities spend as much as 19 percent more than other business consumers. Simply put, you’ll get out of it what you put in.
5 - Invest in Your Staff
This may seem like an obvious step toward efficiency, but keeping employees happy will also keep them working hard. And this goes beyond a few free snacks or casual Fridays. The best-performing organizations provide continued training and mentoring opportunities.
By training your employees thoroughly from the get-go, you can avoid missteps later on. Better trained employees can perform tasks quicker and more effectively.
This is not to say that some of those creature-comfort perks won’t be helpful. Do your best to ensure your staff is working with modern and safe tools and technologies. An employee-friendly workplace not only improves employee satisfaction but also will save money after the initial investments.
Keeping these five tips in mind is bound to get you on the right track toward total business efficiency, increased productivity, and strong profits. Small businesses have limited resources, but that doesn’t mean you have any excuses not to operate at your fullest potential.
Learn when and how to use your resources most effectively and create opportunities for yourself to succeed.
Our guest author Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.