Time passes, whether you use it wisely or totally ignore it. Maximizing your efficacy across time separates a successful business endeavor from those that fade away.
Time management isn’t just about effort though, it’s about technique. The best ways to run small business operations rely on doing more with less and always simplifying.
Simplifying is another thing you should know all about. You have already got a lot going on and finding your zen is important. When you feel active and mobile in your life and your business then you can navigate any challenge.
Read on for tips and tricks to streamline your business.
Small Business Operations Streamlined
Streamlining systems already in place at the business will take you a long way. Most streamlining is achieved through a combination of technology and know-how. But, like so many things, it is easier said than done.
We’ve broken the following into a few categories to give you some laser precision in finding what you need to keep your business humming along.
1. Improve Communication
A business is no place for a game of telephone. Every person and every department needs to know what is going on and how to find out more information when needed.
Confusing e-mails, unanswered phones, and poorly explained details all contribute to big losses for a company. Anything that gets communicated poorly the first time will need to be sent again.
That is time and effort wasted on something that would have been simpler to complete in one go. Consistent style policies and communication training can save a lot of time and frustration in your business.
2. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
Speaking of time, keeping track of all the different activities and employees moving around can be taxing. Slack time means something somewhere isn’t getting done.
Consider using any of a variety of software that makes it easy to schedule and register tasks. This also improves communications trends an employees are aware of what stage a process is in and can check what was last done and by whom.
Electronic schedules also help employees to maintain focus by knowing what is expected of them and also give estimations on how long it should take. While you should definitely allow for some adjustments over time and use such schedules for performance as guidelines, rather than rules, the employee benefits.
Scheduling software can also be integrated into payroll software allowing you to close up the loop on yet one more task.
3. Make Meetings Matter
Unproductive meetings suck up an enormous amount of time and money for businesses. For those looking to streamline operations, meetings need to hit hard and motivate rather than distract.
Research shows that employees can spend up to an entire work week’s worth of time in meetings.
While getting everyone on the same page is important and meetings themselves are hardly useless, not all meetings are created equal. To make the most out of a meeting they need to be short and direct.
Consider if the topic of a meeting can be better handled by an email or a memo which covers the highlights in a bullet point. Provide time for employees to read and engage with the information in at-desk time rather than having them migrate to a meeting room.
This saves the time of gathering people. Meetings drain productivity by interrupting the flow of a work day and taking people away from tasks and forcing them to pay attention to things that sometimes only affect them in the tertiary.
4. Stay on Message
With so many business and so many information channels in today’s society, it is important to stay on message. Losing sight of the product or service and how it gets delivered internally can’t possibly help the consumer understand what they want and why they want you to deliver it.
This isn’t news to you. You know that everything needs to make a statement. So bring that same focus to messaging for your business. Consider what each channel needs to be saying to keep your branding and your product on-point.
What works for a website will not necessarily work for direct mail. What you need your employees to understand is not what you need the customer service to be explaining. Each of these channels needs specific messaging to shape your overall goal.
Sometimes, the best way to go about simplifying a business involves breaking it down into parts. This allows each part to do its job thoroughly with your overall guidance and not have to fit together at every moment.
This has the added bonus of not confusing employees who might not understand how their role interacts with another department or arm of the business. A well-connected communications stream keeps everyone moving without overloading them with things that they don’t need to fulfill their role.
5. Strategic Hiring
Hiring policies can take a lot of time and effort to put in place. Once established they tend to be env harder to change. The short-sighted policy becomes the enemy of the long-term goal.
Work to make hiring policies functional for more than one situation. To do this, consider what you don’t need more than what you do.
Many employees can fit the bill and you want to be able to find someone that can adapt to the way you do things while keeping their own mobility.
You don’t want an employe too set in the way that they do things that will disrupt your flow. You also don’t want to be so inflexible that you won’t adjust to a good idea when you see it.
A hiring policy that looks for employees before you need them can get you new personnel in time for launching new products or enterprises. Getting employees before they are needed will cost a lot of overhead for not enough production. Too late and you will be behind on the new endeavor even as it starts.
6. Take the Money
Payment systems must be robust. Even though check and card payments continue to decline in the wake of electronic transfers, they still exist. The temptation to go scorched earth in streamlining systems needs to be avoided in this case.
Make your payment options clear and while you can provide incentives for one type or another, be careful to never make a payment type a punishment.
That tells customers you don’t want their money.
7. Join the Cloud
Between data storage and program distribution, the advantages of the cloud are too great to ignore.
Saving data on the cloud allows you to access everything from anywhere, meaning you can do as much work on the road as you can in the office. One of the perks of being the boss.
Distributed programs through cloud servers allow you to keep a tight control on what programs each workstation has available. Eliminate waste of effort and focus from employees loading extraneous programs on systems.
Don’t pay for programs for a department that doesn’t need it. Your art and graphics department may need high-end expensive software for creating content, but your warehouse doesn’t.
8. Master Instead of Adapting
On the note of business software, it is better to master a program and teach your employees to do the same. While upgrades to the software are inevitable, that doesn’t mean swapping up to the newest version of everything each time.
Understand the limits of a program and the efficacy. use a program to its limits before updating. This saves money in software licenses and purchases but also saves time in learning new systems.
9. Keep Shipping Under Control
Your warehouse and supply chains already benefit from standardizations of practices. Your office should do the same. Don’t waste time and effort with getting correspondence and packages mailed piecemeal.
Invest in a one-size-fits-all mail service. Working with companies that provide one-cost Certified Mail Labels means knowing the time and cost of the things you send out. This takes the guesswork out of explaining to customers and trading partners when a parcel may arrive.
Anything that can be done seamlessly should be. Especially when it comes to developing reports and keeping track of data related to the business.
Don’t pay someone to create these reports manually. Don’t take your own time to put them together. Invest in integrated software that can deliver this information in digestible forms with the touch of a few buttons.
11. Set Aside Time
An hour in the morning of quiet time without phones, computers, or meetings gives you time to digest what is happening. Take this time to gauge the day and build a strategy for yourself.
This may sound common sense, but many business owners get lost in the bustle of the day and forget to focus themselves.
Take a similar stock after lunch. Dedicated regrouping time of even 10 minutes beats all day worrying when it comes to creating a strategy and solving problems.
Do It For You
Running a small business takes tact, guts, and tenacity. You have to focus on the day to day fo small business operations and also the long-term goals. Simplify and streamline by knowing what to prioritize and keep problems from arising, rather than putting out fires.