For many small business owners, running their operation means they are never off the clock.
Indeed, late nights and 70+ hour working weeks are common among those striving to establish their business.
While this dedication is admirable, it can come at a cost. Sometimes to your health and usually at the expense of family time and your social life. But thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Greater efficiency is something all businesses should aspire to. Which is why we should constantly look to streamline the processes involved in running it.
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In this article, we will outline four ways to streamline operations for your small business.
Adopt these measures and you will not just improve efficiency throughout your company. But you will also suddenly find yourself with a bit more of that very rare commodity – ‘me time’.
Streamlining is essentially an alternative word for simplifying.
In the context of business, it refers to the act of reducing or eradicating inefficiencies in business processes or tasks.
This usually involves adopting current business management strategies, as well as advances in modern technology and generally being progressive, innovative and thinking outside the box.
The way we do business has changed a lot since the dawn of the digital age. Particularly in the way that activities like marketing, project management, bookkeeping and even the hiring of employees, is conducted.
For some business owners, this change has been problematic. As they have struggled to make positive decisions that shape their critical success factors.
This is particularly the case for owner-operators and solopreneurs who pretty much run all aspects of their business themselves.
Typically, the more successful ones have embraced the change by streamlining their processes accordingly. Realising that when you do this, your business naturally improves its performance.
Anytime you streamline your business processes, it provides several benefits to your business.
All of which enables you to maintain better control in terms of how your business is run on a daily basis.
Interested in how you can streamline your business processes? Here are four very effective ways in which you can do so.
One of the first things a small business owner should look at when attempting to streamline their processes is outsourcing.
This involves taking one of your business activities or processes and delegating it to an agency, freelancer or another third party.
While this might involve an additional outlay, it can have huge benefits to your organisation. For a start, the work can be done by professionals who have expertise in these areas and access to state-of-the-art technologies which you don’t have.
Also, not working on these tasks could save you a lot of time, which would be better diverted towards other more profitable activities in your business.
Some of the activities you can outsource include admin-heavy tasks like bookkeeping or payroll. It may be beneficial to farm out your social media, marketing and advertising function as well.
You can reduce costs by not having to hire specialist staff to perform these functions.
After all, this commitment comes with obligations for paying superannuation, sick leave and holiday pay.
In turn,this means you can work from a smaller office space – or even from home. And you can therefore reduce costs in terms of rent, computer equipment and utility bills.
The best small businesses run like clockwork and often this is because they have automated many of their processes.
Regardless of the business, there is sure to be no end of mundane and repetitive tasks that need doing.
This could include everything from preparing invoices and sending out payment reminders to scheduling your social media posts or manual data entry.
All these tasks can be very time-consuming, uninspiring and not necessarily directly impact the bottom line of your business. So, it is worth automating them where possible.
Although they may take a little time to set up, there are plenty of automation tools that can drastically cut down your workload in the long run. This, in turn, will allow you to focus on activities that do improve your profitability.
One of the best tools you can use for your accounting duties is QuickBooks. Mailchimp is excellent for setting up email campaigns, which automatically go out to customers and subscribers when they place an order or sign up to receive your newsletter.
For your social media platforms, Hootsuite or Buffer, both allow you to schedule your posts on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You can do this many months in advance and it even provides you with reports on how many people viewed them and what actions were taken – for example, clicks through to your website.
By automating your processes as much as possible, your small business becomes much more effective and productive.
When it comes to payment, a popular school of thought prevails that businesses should accept as many forms of remuneration as possible.
Whilst there is some logic in this – after all, there are still some customers who prefer to pay by cash, cheque or direct deposit – from a business perspective, this can involve a major cost in terms of your time. Especially if you have to keep traipsing off to the bank to deposit the funds into them or scour your statements to see if an EFT payment was made.
Many successful businesses today use technology to make the payment process much smoother from an administrative perspective. For example, using a portable eftpos machine like Smartpay to take payments if you are a mobile business, retail outlet or just conducting your business activity out of your office. Doing this also has the major benefit of better cash flow too, as you get more immediate access to the money.
In this digital age, the way we do business has evolved markedly since the turn of the century, as technology has been a real game changer.
For a small business, this presents huge opportunities to streamline its overall processes and operations.
Instead of wasting time travelling to meetings, Zoom calls, Messenger and Google Meet are now perfectly acceptable ways to conduct business activity.
Thanks in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is no longer absolutely necessary to travel to client, partner or supplier sites. You can also easily keep in contact with staff too, without them having to come into the office.
Similarly, Cloud software has made the process of storing and accessing important business information – even when you are out of the office – very straightforward. While applications like Trello enable you to assign tasks to employees and track their progress in a quick and efficient manner.
In short, the more you embrace technology, the slicker your business processes will be.
Even if your business is enjoying a period of prosperity, it is always a good idea to improve and enhance your processes.
Not only does it lead to greater productivity, greater efficiency and a much simpler operation, but it can also actively boost your overall profitability as well.
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