If efficiency wasn’t extremely important for small businesses, there would be nowhere near as many small businesses in existence today. A great deal of companies sell very similar products or services. They cater to similar demographics and are equally accessible. What sets them apart is efficiency; which is one of the key motivators for starting a business in the first place. New businesses are often birthed by the blatant opportunity to do perform a series of actions faster and for less money than the rest of the industry. That isn’t to say, however, that improving efficiency is an easily achievable one-time task.
As the business grows, it’s up to the business leader to continuously figure out new ways to improve efficiency. And like any crucial business-related change, the answers aren’t always so obvious. Here are four commonly overlooked ways to improve efficiency for your small business:
Staying on top of data is an intimidating responsibility, especially if you’re one of the countless business leaders who isn’t a math wizard. You’ll be a lot less overwhelmed, however, once you ascertain which specific numbers you deserve the most attention. It depends on your industry, as well as the unique factors that affect your team’s ability to perform. For example, the owner of a hotel must know the amount of reservations that are scheduled for longer time frames (1-3 months). This information will reveal whether new employees are needed to meet changes in demand or how busy he or she will most likely be and if this is a good time to tack off some to-do list items without inhibiting productivity.
The same concept applies to a retail store owner with multiple sales associates. By regularly looking at each associate’s numbers, the business leader can determine which associate is not performing as well. The problem can therefore be dealt with before it escalates and begins taking a noticeable toll on cash flow. When you are on top of the right numbers, you are less likely to be caught off guard by a problem at the wrong time.
Yes, documenting things takes time and doesn’t seem entirely necessary at first. But as your days get busier, it gets harder to remember exactly everything you’re supposed to do in the morning, afternoon and evening. Think of the first five things you have to do once you sit down to work. What numbers do you have to check? Which employees do you have to speak to? Which industry-related resources do you have to keep tabs on? Going down a checklist every day will make each task a lot quicker than sporadically tacking off items as you remember them. You can jump into the afternoon’s tasks without that nagging feeling like you forgot to do something but aren’t sure what it is.
Numbers are a lot like equipment in that you don’t need to take notice of every potentially helpful piece of equipment on the market. You only have to consider equipment that will have a direct impact on your team’s ability to perform. So, while your restaurant might not need a new oven, you may be able to make a massive improvement in efficiency by adding touch screen computers around the restaurant where servers can enter orders. This will speed up communication between servers and cooks and minimize the amount of time servers spend away from their tables.
Companies like United Capital Source are well aware that advanced equipment is no longer a privilege but a necessity. This is why we offer equipment financing for businesses of all ages and sizes. Our equipment financing program is much less tedious than traditional options, and your cash flow doesn’t have to be flawless in order to be approved. Terms can be modified based on factors like seasonality or how long it will take for the equipment to improve efficiency or revenue. And since the price of equipment sometimes depends on the state of your industry, we regularly approve equipment financing loans when prices are lower than industry standards, even during a slow period.
Small businesses that prioritize efficiency view improvements in efficiency as major accomplishments. Employees are frequently encouraged to come up with their own methods for improving productivity. This challenge is much less unnerving than simply demanding employees to improve performance without telling them how to do it. It helps employees understand that their jobs should be less stressful, and once they make their daily routine more efficient, they won’t be concerned about getting all of their work done by the end of the day.
If efficiency is among your company’s primary advantages, new employees should be made aware of this on day one. Any individual contribution to efficiency, no matter how small, ensures that the business maintains its reputation and doesn’t lose touch of its core values. Such improvements stand to benefit the whole business as well. After all, the businesses that are the most efficient are logistically more likely to be the most profitable.
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