Efficiency is the key to sustainability and profitability. Without maximizing efficiency, you’re engaging in unnecessary waste that can drag your entire company down. Thankfully, generating greater efficiency doesn’t require a massive outlay of resources. Here are six steps that any entrepreneur can take to make business processes more efficient and productive.
Cut Energy Use
Utility bills are a sizable investment for any brick-and-mortar business. Becoming more energy-efficient will immediately start saving money. Something as basic as turning off the lights when you leave the room or switching from incandescent bulbs to fluorescents can slash energy bills. In addition, consider having an energy audit performed. These on-site assessments can identify where your building is leaking heat energy and how you can remedy the problem. Contacting utility auditors might be another good idea. These professionals can examine your energy bills to determine if utility companies are giving you your money’s worth. When it comes to waste reduction, knowledge is true power.
Another effective way to become more efficient is to utilize automation. The many mundane and repetitive tasks that characterize office life can drain productivity. Advanced computing solutions like machine learning technology can be a welcome relief. Menial sales tasks (like sending mass emails) can be performed by customer relationship management (CRM) software and sales force automation tools. Chatbots can help handle customer service. Shop around for automated systems that fit your specific needs.
Keep Remote Work Options
Automation is only one way to minimize infrastructure-related overhead. Physical meeting spaces tend to have a sizable footprint, as do communal work environments like the traditional office. Small startups, in particular, can benefit from the flexibility offered by letting employees work in their own spaces and on their own personal schedules. Research from Stanford University shows that remote workers are around 13% more productive than their desk-bound cohorts. Consider keeping the option available to those who want it.
Learn to Delegate Better
If you’re an owner or manager, you likely have difficulty not taking on too many responsibilities. Try to resist the urge to do everything, even if you think you can do it better. Try to incorporate what’s commonly called the “70 percent rule.” If someone can do a task at least 70% as well as you can, assign them the work. The idea is akin to the law of comparative advantage in economics. When everyone is doing the task they’re best at, everyone on the team wins.
Remember the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto principle or the “law of the vital few.” It refers to the statistical trend wherein roughly 80 percent of consequences come from 20 percent of causes. Assuming that 20% of hazards cause 80% of accidents is a technique employed in workplace safety studies. Some in the business community are starting to apply the same idea to sales, saying that 20% of customers are responsible for 80% of sales. Given that repeat customers are proven to spend more than new customers, there’s some evidence for this. Focus on the people and processes that are most effective, and overall efficiency will benefit.
Good meetings can boost your workflow. For example, “stand-up meetings” are brief (15 minutes or less) daily meetings where participants stand and give progress reports. Bad meetings can wreck employee morale and waste valuable time. One of the worst things you can do regarding meetings is to let them interrupt workflow. Be sure to schedule meetings in a way that won’t break up activity on tasks. Keep meetings goal-oriented, focusing on implementing strategies and solving problems rather than simple task assignments and personal feedback. In other words, be sure that this meeting could not have been an email.
Generating higher business processes efficiency means looking critically at everything your company does. Examine what you’re doing right and the ones you could be doing better to develop a fuller strategy for making the most of your operations.