Work smart, not hard.
It’s become an increasingly common mantra in an economy driven by productivity and efficiency, but for entrepreneurs who are inherently industrious, it is often easier said than done. Not only is it difficult to ignore that natural desire to go, go, go, but in the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of retail it can be difficult to differentiate between working ‘smart’ and working ‘hard.’
For your small businesses to stay competitive in a marketplace rife with corporate mergers and overseas outsourcing, you need to constantly be looking for ways to increase operational efficiency – whether it means minimizing costs, maximizing revenue or, ideally, both. Impossible as it may seem, there are some simple ways to get the most out of your resources.
Here are five guaranteed ways to increase your company’s efficiency:
1. Invest in company morale
The truth is, a lot of people see their employer as little more than the source of their monthly income. To get the most out of your team, you have to create healthy lines of communication, build a sense of community, eliminate structural hierarchy and provide incentives. Whether it’s flexible scheduling, including them in decision-making or arranging regular ‘employee appreciation’ parties, showing your employees you care about them will make them care about your company – and yield better performance.
2. Organize your chaos
From your personal office to the checkout aisles, the more organized your store is, the more efficient you will be. This means eliminating distractions and clutter wherever possible. Whether it’s the paperwork on your desk, the inventory in your warehouse or the countless files, folders and databases on your computer, ask yourself how necessary it is and what value it adds to your company. It is far easier to clean and organize as you go than to let things pile up.
3. Action expresses priorities
Not all tasks are created equal. Start focusing only on what’s most important, and eventually you will be able to eliminate the unnecessary processes in your workflow. Again, ask yourself how much value a particular job is adding to your company; if it can not be quantified, chances are it’s decreasing your efficiency. Spending a few minutes making a ‘to-do’ list before bed or first thing in the morning (and setting aside specific time for emails and other internet communication) can save you hours of unnecessary busy-work throughout the day.
4. Get with the times
Even the most ardent of Luddites can’t deny the benefits of today’s technology in the workplace. Whether it’s new accounting software or an online ordering system, there are countless services designed specifically for business owners just like you. In addition to saving you time, investing in technological improvements can have an immediate impact on your bottom line, if – for example – it saves you the cost of paper or postage.
5. Delegate: Even Batman had Robin
Given the probability that you started your company from the ground up, it can be difficult to take a hands-off approach and give the reins to someone else. But there comes a point when you need to have faith in your management skills and trust the instincts that got you where you are; chances are you hired the right person for the job, now let them do it. In addition to lightening your own workload, giving your employees more responsibility and authority will empower them – and lead to better results. When delegating tasks, be sure to set firm deadlines, provide as many resources as possible and maintain an open-door policy.