Anyone who has run a business knows that it can sometimes be hard to see the wood for the trees. There is so much going on and so many calls on your attention that no matter how diligently you approach your business, things can get out of control.
The mark of a good business owner is knowing how to find solutions, and with so many resources available in today’s digital world, it can be a bit overwhelming to hone in on the right answers. There are many online resources available from experts, and it can also be helpful to find a mentor who aligns with your objectives.
One of the many advantages of undertaking a mentorship program with an experienced business leader of the caliber of Keith Krach is that you can directly learn practical skills that can have an immediate impact on your business. One such skill is the ability to bring order out of chaos through streamlining and thereby increasing productivity.
Regularly taking stock of how your business is operating is essential to avoid inefficiencies getting out of control. But where should you start? Here are the five key areas to concentrate on when you set about streamlining your business.
Cut down on paper
One of the simplest and easiest ways to streamline any business is to analyse the flow of paper. In any organization, no matter the size, it is easy for paperwork to gather, and this can lead to unnecessary delays in a number of key business areas.
The best way to start tackling the paper mountain is to speak to everyone involved with each paper trail. Ask them what information they add or take away from each piece of paper they handle. It is common in many organisations for certain procedures to remain in place long after they ceased being necessary, and these aspects of paperwork, which are often completed simply because “that’s how it’s always been done” are a good place to start.
Another area of potential paperwork-related efficiency is in filing and storage. Filing cabinets and other methods of storage take up valuable space, so it is worth considering introducing a document archiving system or, where possible, moving to a paperless office.
Tackle phone charges
Cell phones are another area where efficiencies can be found. Competition in the cell phone market is as fierce as ever, and there are many deals and promotions available to business customers. Make sure that you are getting the best deal possible and make it your practice to regularly review the cost of cell phone usage.
One of the biggest mistakes that business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs make is a failure to delegate. Your employees, who are on the front line every day, know exactly what makes their job easier and harder. They are the experts, and in particular, the long-term employees are a valuable resource of knowledge and understanding.
Therefore, one effective way to boost efficiency is to look at parts of the business that would benefit from delegation. By empowering and trusting them, you can not only boost their morale, but you will also be taking an extra layer of decision-making out of the work flow, which can have a major effect on the efficiency of your business operation.
Consolidate your software
Does your business currently have one type of software used for order entry and another that handles the accounting side of the business? Is there a third package for inventory control? Do any of your employees spend time keying data from one software platform to another? If you found yourself answering “yes” to any of these important questions, then you may be able to benefit from a more integrated software infrastructure.
There have been significant developments in business software in recent years, and you will find a wide array of packages offering fully integrated administration, stock control and accountancy services. Many of these packages are also available on the cloud, which provides increased flexibility, security and scaleabilty for a growing business.
The beauty of outsourcing
No matter what the size of your business, there is every chance that it can benefit from the many efficiencies offered by outsourcing. Whether you are running a hospitality business, a small company, or a major industrial producer, you may be able to outsource a wide range of functions and processes. With proper planning and preparation, you could find that outsourcing enables you to generate increasingly significant business efficiencies.
Streamlining business operations is an important component in the success of any business, but it shouldn’t be a one-off exercise. The areas outlined in this article are a good starting point, but to ensure efficiency in the long term, you should make streamlining a consistent part of your business practice. By making it a habit to regularly review the efficiency of your business operations, you will be taking a significant step toward long-term success.