Your company may be running smoothly, your website is looking great, your staff is happy, and customers are buying what you’re selling. But even when things seem great, it’s likely that certain aspects could be improved further. Whether it’s an overrunning project or an unproductive meeting, these issues can soon be rectified by improving business efficiency. The following are some top tips from a number of entrepreneurs as to how they keep their businesses as efficient and productive as possible.
An obvious tip for improving business efficiency is automating whatever you can, whether it’s paying employees or sending out receipts. FormSwift’s Sathvik Tantry highlights the value of automation in saving employees time, allowing them to concentrate on more productive tasks. Despite an initial cost outlay, automation is sure to reduce long-term expenditure, as well as heightening efficiency.
2. Talk face-to-face
While using an instant message or email to communicate with a colleague may seem more efficient, the back-and-forth which usually ensues can often take longer than a face-to-face encounter. Talking in person can allow problems to be solved and questions to be clarified and answered in a more concise and time-efficient manner. This will improve your business’ efficiency by preventing simple problems from turning into a long email thread, all thanks to a quick chat.
3. Minimise Interruptions
If your staff is struggling to complete their tasks efficiently, there’s a high chance that this could be due to constant interruptions. According to Boomerang’s Alexander Moore, you can try and avoid this by scheduling meetings on the same day, instead of throughout the week. However, constant notifications can act as a further distraction interrupting the workflow. To combat this, Alexander suggests using the tool Inbox Pause which reduces notifications to keep your team free of distractions.
4. Daily Micro-meetings
Stop your meetings from taking up too much of the day by swapping them for shorter and more efficient micro-meetings which cover all of the basics in just 10 minutes. Holding a 10-minute meeting at the start of the day ensures that everyone is kept in the loop, accomplishments are celebrated and opportunities identified. This approach encourages a streamlined meeting process and prevents any unnecessary time from being wasted.
5. Focus on one task
It can be a common misconception that multi-tasking equals greater productivity. Whilst your team may be juggling several tasks at once, this may, in fact, be preventing them from being as productive as possible. Avoid this by focusing on ‘single-tasking’, which refers to the act of concentrating on one project until completion, before beginning the next. This approach prevents projects from being neglected in the latter stages and ensures maximum output and concentration on the task at hand.
6. Reduce unscheduled meetings
Spontaneous meetings can often be the biggest offenders when it comes to inefficient use of time. In reality, limited productivity can be achieved in a spontaneous and brief meeting and such meetings can often overrun and become even more inefficient. Opting for quick, pre-planned meetings with a defined time span and topic guarantees that you are more likely to stay on track and accomplish the goals you set out to achieve.
7. Maintain existing processes
If a project is in progress, attempting to speed things up can lead to corners being cut and quality being compromised. Sticking with the process which has already been established prevents anything from being missed or costly mistakes being made, leading to things going more smoothly. Of course, you can change your processes, but try to avoid doing this on a whim, or because you’ve fallen behind schedule.
8. Use task management software
Email is not the most favourable method of collaboration or communication. Using task management software such as Trello ensures that all communication is in one place. This type of software can allow all team members to work together increasingly efficiently, tracking progress and staying on task. It also avoids the need for multiple emails going back and forth, enabling progress to be tracked more effectively.
9. Have a culture of communication
Encourage open communication between your employees and ensure that they feel comfortable voicing any concerns, giving feedback, and discussing ideas. A culture of open communication can encourage growth, as well as boosting business efficiency.
10. Know when to stop
Although it is important to improve efficiency where possible, you should also avoid trying to automate every process or becoming too stringent in your pursuit for efficiency. In reality, not every meeting will end on time and not every process can be drastically improved. It is also important to ensure that efficiency does not distract from other important areas of your business, most importantly growth.
To strike a healthy balance, consider focusing on efficiency in key areas, whilst keeping overall goals in mind. This can prevent the goal of efficiency from overshadowing or negatively impacting your other business goals. A process of trial-and-error, combined with employee feedback will allow you to see what is and isn’t working and improve your efficiency as a result.