5 Tips To Improve Your Business Efficiency
Your company is running smoothly enough, but you know things could be better. Sometimes, a project gets hung up a few days too long, or meetings that once felt productive and useful now seem to drag on for hours. It can feel like wheels spinning in the mud, and it’s hard to get that traction back.
How can you fix these kinds of issues? By focusing on improving the efficiency of your business. I asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council for their tips on how they keep their businesses running efficiently, which in turn helps them be more productive.
1. Automate whatever tasks you can
Whether it be sending out pay stubs to employees or sending receipts to vendors, automate whatever you can. “Business automation is not just a luxury; it is a necessity in today’s competitive environment,” says Sathvik Tantry of FormSwift. “Automating monotonous tasks saves your employees time and allows them to do more productive tasks that require critical thinking or a human touch.”
Sathvik adds that while it might be pricier to implement automated processes in the beginning, in the long run it will cut costs, as well as increase business efficiency.
2. Encourage your employees to chat face-to-face
While sending a quick email or chat message to a coworker might seem like a more efficient way of getting an answer, oftentimes it can have the opposite effect, as the subsequent back-and-forth can take longer than a quick face-to-face. “Skype, Google Chat and other online communication tools are always helpful when trying to shoot over a quick message to your colleagues,” says Miles Jennings of Recruiter. “However, face-to-face interaction really speeds up the process of solving a problem, answering a question, or getting something important clarified.”
How can you make sure your employees balance the two for optimum efficiency? “Encouraging employees to openly talk with each other when they need to will create a steady flow of information,” says Miles.
While chat and email have their place, by making sure your employees are comfortable communicating face-to-face, you’ll keep your business moving efficiently, and a problem that could have been solved in a five-minute face-to-face chat won’t end as a 20-message-long email thread.
3. Limit interruptions
Staff meeting at 9am, department meeting at 11am, lunch at noon—if your employees are having trouble completing tasks efficiently, it might be a result of constant interruptions. “We try to schedule multiple meetings on the same day rather than scattering them throughout the week, and we block out time on our calendars for actively working,” says Alexander Moore of Boomerang. Blocking out chunks of time for uninterrupted work may help your employees focus better, and work more efficiently as a result.
But, meetings aren’t the only offenders—constant email alerts, chat message pop ups, and notifications from your in-house project management software can all serve as distractions that interrupt the flow of work. “In general, it takes about a minute to resume working effectively after an interruption,” says Alexander. “For that reason, we use tools like Inbox Pause to reduce email notifications.” There are plenty of tools and apps to keep your work distraction free, which may help you work more efficiently.
4. Hold a daily, 10-minute company meeting
While meetings are generally considered a necessity, they can carry on to the point where they eat away at the work day. David Ciccarelli of Voices.com suggests shorter, more efficient meetings, that cover the basics in 10 minutes flat.
“Each day, we gather as a company for a 10-minute meeting called the Daily Huddle,” he says. “The meeting serves as a firehose of information that keeps everyone in the loop, including a roundup of our key performance indicators, the celebration of accomplishments, and the identification of opportunities to improve.”
Not only is it a good way to keep all employees up to speed on any new developments within the company, keeping meetings short and sweet forces a streamlined meeting process, and reduces time wasted. “This process keeps us running efficiently, as unnecessary meetings are eliminated,” says David.
5. Know when to stop
While it’s important to smooth out as many kinks as possible to help your company run more efficiently, you also need to know where to draw the line. Not every process can—or should—be automated, just like not every meeting will always end at its scheduled time.
Neill has experienced this with his own business: “At SiteLock, we do focus on efficiency in key areas: hardware utilization, service-level agreements, etc., but we always remind ourselves that our most important goal is growth. This includes customers served, products offered, and brand strength.”
It’s important to strive for efficiency, but don’t let the goal of running a more efficient business overshadow other goals. Through trial and error, and by getting feedback from your employees throughout the process, you’ll be able to monitor what is working and what isn’t, and improve your business efficiency—all the while continuing to grow and strengthen your business.