A small business has to be an efficient one. When money is tight and you have only a small team to rely on, you can’t afford the slack that bigger businesses can get away with.
But improving efficiency isn’t simply about trying to cut corners and do more with less – it’s also about understanding the key components of your business and maximising their potential.
One of the simplest (if not necessarily the cheapest) ways to increase business efficiency is to look at ways in which technology can make things easier for your team. This could involve anything from introducing financial software that eliminates the need for a specialist to handle payroll, to using an ERP system to automate routine management tasks. Key things to consider are technological compatibility, ease of use, ease of getting updates and availability of technical support. Take your time when choosing, and remember that a good company will go through your specific needs with you, not just try to sell you the most expensive product.
Health and safety
Health and safety is often thought of purely in terms of expense, but in fact having good procedures in place can save you a lot of money. It often means lower insurance premiums, and it also protects you from being sued if an accident happens on your premises. Employees with good safety training are less likely to need time off and are generally more productive. If they know they’re being looked after, they’re also more likely to be loyal to you and not cut corners themselves.
One major cause of workplace absence is substance abuse, which can also impair performance and, in some workplaces, pose a safety hazard. Making an agreement with staff to introduce random checks means no one is singled out, and the process doesn’t need to be intrusive – a simple oral fluid lab test is easy to implement and yields reliable results. It doesn’t need to pit you against your employees. Rather than sacking people, you can, if you choose, get them help to support them through any difficulties they may be having.
It is vital that your employees are communicating efficiently and clearly with each other. Proper communication is one of the foundation stones of success in both life and business. Communication training can help improve this in your business, which can lead to improved team working and ultimately profitability.
Improving efficiency isn’t just about looking at what your employees can do – it’s about looking at how you can improve in your role. An attentive leader who gets to know employees can anticipate and head off problems before they impact the business. Although you will need to be careful to set aside personal time for yourself so that you don’t get overwhelmed, taking the time to be there for your employees can make a big difference to their motivation, especially if you show a willingness to listen to and sometimes incorporate their ideas. It’s often the people working at the lowest level who are the quickest to notice where efficiency has broken down, so they can have really valuable information to contribute.
Setting aside a monthly space in your schedule for efficiency assessments makes it much easier to stay on top of things and nip any developing problems in the bud. It can give your business the competitive edge it needs for success.