Getting It Done: Efficiency is an Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

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You always wanted to be your own boss so you saved, borrowed from friends and family, maybe even raised some angel funding to get your business off the ground. Now, you discover that working for yourself really means working to keep the doors open and the staff paid. So, instead of attending power meetings with prospective clients and running the business, you find yourself constantly putting out fires because something critical didn’t get done or wasn’t done right. You spend your days rushing from crisis to crisis and find yourself doing a lot of the skunk work that was assigned to an underling in your business plan. If you want to get ahead and outmaneuver the competition it’s important you find a way to work smarter instead of harder. Implementing procedures that help improve the efficiency of your operation not only helps your business survive and grow but reduces your reliance on crisis management. Efficiency also means you get more done with fewer people, so it saves you time, as well as money.

Stop leaving your future up to chance and begin taking control of your business and tasks starting today by applying these efficiency tips. It’s important that if you want to succeed in this day and age you learn how to get your work done more efficiently at your business so you can thrive.

efficiency

Building efficiency into your business

Streamlining your operation is a function of proper planning and implementation. Build your business plan based on a thorough review of your existing operation (including result metrics) and elements of the external environment that might impact your operation, such as:

  • new laws and regulations
  • changes in consumer needs, values, and attitudes
  • the economy, including consumer confidence, inflation, jobless rates, etc.
  • technology, including automated options, cybersecurity, and other ways technology can streamline your operation
  • competitive environment including both existing competition and the potential for new competitors. It’s important to look not only at competitors who do the same thing you do but those who solve the same consumer problem that you solve — consumers buy solutions not products. Thus, a restaurant is a form of entertainment, not food. Hence, you compete against other restaurants but also compete against other forms of entertainment such as sporting events and movies. Porter’s 5-forces model offers a good framework for analyzing your competition.
porter's five forces
Image courtesy of Oxford

Contingency planning

Building contingency plans should be a natural part of your planning process and works toward increasing efficiency. If you planned for something to go wrong (as things inevitably do from time to time), you can jump into action to fix the problem without all the confusion and wasted effort that accompanies an unplanned problem. And, just like a first responder, practice for when something inevitably happens so everyone knows their responsibilities in a crisis.

Not only does contingency planning improve efficiency, but it also ensures you deliver high-quality to customers time after time.

Here are some other tactics for improving efficiency.

Define roles & responsibilities

It’s wise to begin by defining roles and responsibilities clearly at your workplace. Make sure each person is aware of what they’re expected to do, along with metrics they should optimize, and no one duplicates efforts or wastes time on things that don’t matter. Have meetings and discussions about projects to ensure there is no confusion about who is doing what and so you stay on track based on your timeline. Project management software helps manage the project between meetings and may even eliminate a lot of wasteful meeting time.

Encourage your employees to ask questions and break down silos between departments so each person knows what’s happening on each project at your company. Set reasonable goals during performance reviews so that you understand what types of resources are in need and each person can plan their time and schedules accordingly.

Do more online

Get your work done more efficiently at your business by doing more online, like implementing project management software as I mentioned above. Use technology to your advantage and start working in the cloud instead of using manual processes and procedures that limit access to information and may result in mistakes when handwritten information is unclear or when information is retyped in a different format.

When you begin working in the cloud, you should look into Escrow cloud-based software as a service to help better protect your business and ensure there is no significant disruption to your workflow if there is a hiccup. When you plan for the worst, you can restore function and get back up and running as quickly as possible. Also, consider the security of your information online as well as who needs access to which pieces of information.

Have processes & best practices in place

Another way to work more efficiently at your business is to have processes and best practices in place. You should not only hold discussions regarding appropriate processes and best practices that involve the folks actually performing the work, but document them.  Share best practices and procedures with everyone involved in performing related roles as well as including them in training for new employees or in refresher courses.

As with anything in your business, you need to review these procedures periodically to ensure they still reflect best practices in the industry and avoid potential problems. Be open to suggestions for improvement and gather feedback from your staff once they begin applying procedures to see what’s working and what isn’t. Establishing procedures not only helps you work more efficiently in the present but it’s easier to onboard new employees at your company when you have best practices and policies and procedures in writing.

Improve Your Environment

Create a productive and inviting environment for your employees to work in each day if you want to improve efficiency. Make sure the office has enough lighting options and that it’s kept at a comfortable temperature. Confirm each person has their own personal workspace and the right equipment they need to perform their jobs. Keep your office space and business clean and organized so everyone knows how to find what they need quickly. If you have an open-concept workspace, consider allowing your employees to wear headphones if they want it quiet and need to concentrate better.

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