Being business owners, we get to wake up every morning and be excited to go to work because we love what we do. While the love for our products or services drives our motivation, there are certain essential tasks that must be done to keep the lights on and the money flowing. These are your basic business operations and they include everything from bookkeeping to inventory management.
Essential as they may, business operations also take vital time away from doing the work you love and the work that brings in profits. The key to running a successful business is to streamline these processes as much as possible. To do this, here are four tips for improving efficiency in your business:
1. Create a To-Do List AND a Schedule
Everyone who works in your business – including you – benefits from having a to-do list. There are many pieces to building a successful business. Though it may seem daunting to write them all down, it’s the best way to ensure that none of those pieces are lost. Start by separating tasks into categories, such as routine work versus special projects. Next, prioritize these tasks and create a schedule for completing them. Having a to-do list is good, but having a schedule is even better. Having deadlines and building in routine tasks will help you to stay on track, and eventually learn what can be productively delegated or outsourced as your business grows.
2. Organize Your Files & Inventory
If you can’t find what you are looking for within a few seconds, you probably need to improve your organization. As a business owner, you should know where everything is in your business. Whether it’s a specific product, file or replacement ink cartridge, you want to put your hands on it when you need it. The time you spend up front to create an organizational system that is intuitive and works for you, will more than pay back its share in time savings in the long run.
3. Automate What You Can
Technology is a small business owner’s friend. There are so many applications available today that can automate and simplify business operations. For little to no cost, you can find accounting, email marketing, CRM, and calendar applications that not only make it easier to get the work done, but also faster. Some applications even integrate with each other to offer enhanced data for making better business decisions. As a result, you save in time, money and improve bottom lines. One great place to start is to ask your peers what they use. This is where being a member of a trade association, Chamber of Commerce or other networking group can pay off in spades.
As touched upon in #1, delegating and outsourcing offer great ways to streamline business operations. One of the most cost-effective and smartest things to outsource is payroll. Payroll is time consuming, complex, and encompasses many rules and regulations. At the same time, if you know what you’re doing, there are pre-tax options for things like health care and child care expenses that can be processed through payroll. Whether you’re a 1-person operation or a team of five or more, outsourcing payroll is a no-brainer for any operation.