Have you ever considered how efficient your business is? If not, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about this as businesses that are more efficient are more likely to make a profit. Inefficiencies ultimately lead to negative effects on the business, such as unmotivated staff, poor product/service outcomes and missed opportunities, all of which can be costly to a business in terms of profit and growth.
So, where do you start to identify areas of inefficiencies? The key is to look for any bottlenecks or areas that slow down the flow of your business. Some areas to consider are…
Are you trying to do too much yourself?
Maybe it’s because you’re scared of delegating and don’t trust others with your business. Or you don’t feel like you can afford to outsource tasks or take on employees. However, if you spend all your time working in your business and don’t focus on your business you’ll struggle to drive any meaningful growth and development…for example, are you dedicating enough time to finding new business and positioning your business against your competitors? Outsourcing might seem expensive at first but once you’ve got through the initial stages and start to experience the efficiencies that delegating tasks can bring you will soon recoup the expenditure.
Maybe you’re worried about embracing technology?
Manual processes can take time and it’s worth exploring technology solutions that can do the hard work for you. This could be as simple as automating reports, using an online accounting programme, a project management tool or a CRM database. The idea might seem slightly overwhelming at first but committing time and budget to automating, simple but time-consuming, tasks pays off in the long term. It’s also easy to find an expert who could manage the integration process for you so you don’t have to deal with any of the initial technicalities and teething problems.
Are you sure that you’re using your team efficiently?
If you have a team, whether they are employees or freelancers, have you considered if you are using them efficiently? Maybe they have strengths and talents outside their original remit that your business could benefit from. If so, it could be worth revising their job description to incorporate these. A win all round! Maybe your actions are inhibiting them from being able to perform to the best of their abilities, are you micromanaging or not giving them the right information or tools? As difficult as it is to hear, it’s important to encourage this feedback from the team, maybe through a confidential survey, employment costs are high so the last thing your business needs is a team that isn’t given what they need to perform.
Does your diary lack management and structure?
If you’re not using your time wisely and rushing from one meeting to the next it could be that you aren’t allowing yourself time to be efficient. The best habit to get into is blocking time in your own diary for strategic thinking, follow up and business growth. Dedicating time to these strategic activities each week allows you time to shift your focus from working in your business to working on it. A great tool to help you identify where your time is being spent is Toggl, tracking and analysing where your day goes can help you identify time-consuming tasks that might be better outsourced.
Are your goals unclear or do you lack a long-term plan?
Without clear goals and planning a business can go off on a tangent with no real focus, for example working with clients or on projects that are unprofitable or that do not fit with your companies culture and values. It’s easy to become distracted from any previous plans once this kind of issue starts and a cycle of needed to take any business available to cover costs is entered. Once goals are established they need to be ingrained in the business, all decisions should be made with the impact on the goals in mind. For example, all new business opportunities need to be reviewed with a set of criteria to ensure alignment with the business. Anything that does not fit is like trying to plug a round hole with a square peg…it won’t fit and too much time and effort is wasted trying.
Do you struggle to prioritise?
Jumping from one task to the next with nothing getting done is not an efficient way to run a business, it often means that you are spending your whole time reacting rather than being proactive. As mentioned above all this time and effort is not productive and probably means that you are unclear on the direction that you should be moving towards. Taking time each day to review your tasks and be structured in your approach is much more strategic. For example, grouping together lots of short tasks at the beginning of the day meaning that you can focus on bigger projects later on is a better way of using your time rather than breaking your flow on the big tasks.
Does procrastination get in your way?
There are several reasons why we procrastinate, but fear and overwhelm are things we can all struggle with. Lock yourself away from distractions, break big tasks down into small components so that you feel accomplished by the impact you have made. It’s also good to allow yourself rewards, once you’ve achieved something on your list, step away from work for a cup of tea or walk around the block to give yourself time to refocus and be ready to start the next task.
So, do you identify any of these areas in your business and could they be creating a bottleneck affecting the way you operate and ultimately your potential for growth? Identifying these problems is the first step to overcoming them, once you are aware it’s much easier to focus your efforts on the area where you will see the best results. If it all seems overwhelming and a little too big to deal with, I would recommend working with a specialist who can help identify these areas and implement the changes required. I promise you it’s worth it…you’ll sleep better without the nagging worries in your head.