Inefficiency can cost your business up to 30% of yearly revenue. So are you a small business, a large co-operation or a medium enterprise? It doesn’t matter; we can all be a little more efficient when conducting business. It is paramount to employ great business efficiency strategies.
So what is business efficiency anyway?
On the real though, since we can’t accurately quantify input work, we can just say that business efficiency is the ability to get maximum returns with minimum input. The success or failure of your business is largely dependent on this one factor.
So where should we start? As old Benji once said, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Business plan you say? Well, not really, that depends on who you are. If you’re a Start-Up, please stay away from the business plan. Contrary to popular opinion, business plans are only practical for more established businesses. Remember, a small business is not a Start-Up.
A Start-Up has no/very few tested assumptions, so a business plan for a Start-Up is equal to building castles in the clouds. Start-Ups could benefit from simpler templates like the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder or the Lean Stack Canvas by Ash Maurya. Still, even for an established business, it’s important to remember that the business plan is a DYNAMIC document that needs to change according to market needs.
You Need To Introspect
We can’t possibly plan without knowing exactly where we are. So I’d suggest you do this first. Introspect like a Buddhist monk on a dry fast somewhere in the cold mountains. By introspect, I mean as a business. Look at what has not been working well and why some of your customers have been taking money to your competitors. Customers are only loyal to their needs so zero in on these needs and make meeting these needs your priority.
Think of it like this, if you were an investor unattached to the business, would you invest in your business? This will help you identify any loop holes you might have missed. This is not a one-off thing either; make it a routine practice to remain optimized and relevant as a company.
Keep track of things. Be it by having regular meetings, requesting daily reports or investing in in- depth analytics software. Only you can determine which one (or all) of these options will be best suited for your business. Consider what drives in the most profits and reconsider your highest expenses.
Now that we know exactly where we are, we can better understand how to get where we need to be, and that is; at efficiency. Efficiency means maximum profits, and I believe we all like the sound of that, I know I do.
Do Proper Benchmarking
Benchmark but avoid copy-pasting. Knowing what your competitors are doing will ease the labor of keeping up with the latest tools and strategies in your industry. Make sure you implement these tools and strategies in a tailor made fashion befitting your exact business needs.
Automate And Delegate Tasks
The essence of increasing business efficiency is the elimination of redundant and unnecessary processes and the adoption of needful ones. A lot of people feel like computers are taking over the job market due to their lower long-term costs as well as their notorious reputation for delivering quick and accurate results.
What I’m more afraid of is the fact that human beings have become more like machines that are given commands and perform tasks as mechanically as robots do. It’s time we leave computers to do what they do best and leave to humans what humans do best.
Look for avenues where you can automate tasks. This will free up employee time, making them feel less pressured to do menial tasks and more energized to perform more complex “human-only” tasks. Research on the best software, applications, platforms and practices available that are suited for your industry and business needs. Be sure to do the math and consider if this will in fact be the best decision for your business in the long-term; as with any business decision, or any decision for that matter.
When it comes to delegating tasks, this is more than just a human- computer issue. This calls for mindfulness. Be mindful of each of your employee strengths and assign tasks according to this knowledge. Which leads to my next point…
Consider Outsourcing Tasks
You may need to Outsource. Outsourcing has numerous benefits including getting the best services for much less of the cost, compared to if you hired the guy(s) to be your permanent employee(s). If you’re not open to outsourcing, you’ll be limiting yourself to the knowledge base and skill set of your current employees. Don’t get me wrong, your employees are amazing, but there comes a time when you momentarily need a little more than they can offer.
This is where outsourcing comes in. Outsourcing leverages on the idea that there’s a company/ individual out there who has specialized in solving your current problem. Problem solved with little to no learning curve and zero expenses of buying accompanying tools to perform the service? Yea I’ll take that any day, with a lemon on the side please, thank you.
Network Like Crazy!
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is what only Start-Ups should do. As billionaire Ashish Thakkar said, “The minute your arrogance or ego sets in, it’s over.” You might as well pack your ring binders and get a rocking chair on your way home. Join all the strategic business groups, forums and magazines. This will help you stay up to date with current events, including where to buy supplies at the cheapest rates and the current market value of your product.
Business efficiency, productivity, relevance and sustainability all depend on one thing; how connected are you to the current truth. What is really going on? Networking keeps you up to speed with this while giving you the opportunity to form beneficial alliances. Attend all the community events you possibly can, it’s not just about knowing but being known. This is also a very good marketing approach considering its subtlety.
Optimize your business Website.
If you don’t have a live website for your business, what are you doing with your life? Get off this blog and go get one NOW! Most, if not all of your current and potential customers are online and if you’re not “Googlable”, your perceived value goes down immediately. It’s more than just having a website though; it’s about having THE website. Customer experience is key and if you win in this area, the opposite is true. You build trust with your customer and they can tell how particular you are about quality from something as simple as your web interface.
Formidable Social Media Presence
Needless to say, a website goes hand in hand with a strong social media presence. This not only improves the ranking of your website, it also improves your relationship with your customers. Creating online communities around your business or products is beneficial in quite a number of ways. For starters, it gives your customers an open door policy if you will; a virtual door where they can come in, air their concerns as well as celebrate you publicly.
This move will directly impact your ratings, especially if your customer service department responds to issues promptly and kindly. Communities can help customers encourage each other to make product purchases along with give you fresh ideas from the very mouth of your target audience. How cool is that? A Group Study by Aberdeen revealed that a strong online presence, increased customer retention by about 30% and revenue to up to 55%, it’s your call.
Communication Is Key!
The glue that holds everything together, you can ask the earth’s magnetic field and the boundary of the sea. Cleaning out these lines within your organization will ensure quick response-time and thus enhance business efficiency. This may also include devolving power to shorten the decision-making process especially when it comes to less pertinent issues.
Sense Of Ownership
Give your employees a sense of ownership of the business. Nothing is harder than finding someone who can care about your business the way you care about your business. They may not match up to your interest, considering they have limited interests in the business, but a sense of ownership sure goes a long way. It’s a self- motivating factor that ensures your employees offer quality work and remain loyal to the business.
Increase focus within your team. This will include setting up blocks of time for specific tasks. For example, distracting an employee who’s in the zone with a work-related question even, will hurt his/her production rate at the end of the day. It may seem miniscule, but the time it takes to regain focus could have been spent in deep work. Set a separate time for answering e-mails, for meetings, for co-worker interactions and phone calls. It’s also imperative that you only focus on your strengths and play them up. You can glance at your weaknesses and come up with ways to mitigate them but focusing on the positive always yields better results and keeps everyone in a good mood.
Get A Trusted Assessor
When you’ve done all you possibly can, invite a trusted outside assessor to take a look at all the cogs and gears of your business. He/she can offer an objective and honest opinion.
Take it slow and implement any new strategies with careful consideration. Tie any loose ends and make sure all your solutions are end-to-end.
A business’ only hope for long-term survival is its ability to adapt to change while keeping its core values intact. So be brave, take that needed risk and listen hard at what the market is saying. Always remember to enshrine business efficiency into the fabric of your cooperation.