Business efficiency refers to how much output a business produces versus input. If a company can produce quality work for a small amount of money, time, and resources, then it is considered efficient. However, many factors can affect efficiency in the workplace, including unproductive employees and business growth. To keep efficiency a priority, many small business owners overwork themselves to make up for the lost time. One survey found that 25% of entrepreneurs work more than 60 hours a week — almost twice as much as regular employees. Rather than overwork yourself, there are strategies that you can implement to make your operations more efficient over time.
Set SMART Goals
A SMART goal is a method that helps you set realistic and measurable goals that can help your business become more efficient. Often business owners have goals similar to “making more money” or “growing the business.” While these goals are somewhat attainable, they are vague and unhelpful. SMART goals, on the other hand, are just the opposite. SMART is an acronym built around five factors:
By applying this method to your business goals, you can track each goal and improve efficiencies around them. For instance, “making more money” turns into “increasing profits 30% by the end of quarter three.” This new goal has all the characteristics of a SMART goal and allows you:
- Prioritize demands;
- Create new benchmarks;
- Provide better service.
Additionally, this method can help you understand which processes need to improve, creating a more efficient way of doing business.
Many small business owners wrestle with delegating tasks because they feel solely responsible for their business. They want to ensure that all processes, product launches, and other factors are flowing smoothly, which can lead to micromanaging the employees. Micromanaging can have a lot of negative effects, like:
- Increased stress and frustration for both you and your employees;
- Decreased productivity;
- Poor physical and mental health;
- Stifles creativity and innovation;
- Prevents scalability;
- Damages employee trust;
- Increases turnover.
However, by delegating tasks, you can avoid the negative effects of micromanagement while giving yourself more time to focus on big-picture items, like business development and growth.
Create a Workplace Culture
Motivated and productive employees can help push a business to success. Creating a workplace culture that your employees care about can help them become more productive by creating common goals that employees care about and can work towards. Culture can also drive:
With workplace culture, you can set expectations and standards that can help govern what employees do on a day-to-day basis. Practices like this can help avoid conflict and create a more comfortable and autonomous space for employees. Lastly, happy workers are more likely to work together and perform their jobs better, which, in turn, facilitates workplace efficiency. A few ways to boost employee performance include:
- Employee recognition practices;
- Employee participation throughout the workplace;
- Employee feedback to help you be a better leader.
Happy workers and positive workplace culture are great precursors to increased efficiency in any operation.
Understand Workplace Processes
Every business has multiple processes to keep itself running. These processes make up your organizational structure and can help determine which areas are more efficient than others. Inefficient processes can put a strain on both workers and the organization, so it’s important to analyze them a few times a year. Start by establishing a benchmark for different tasks and determine what the inefficiencies look like. For instance, if a task is time-based, it would be sensible to set a deadline and measure how long it takes to complete it.
If you find a process or procedure that needs improvement, implement the following steps:
- Identify the problem;
- Establish how many processes are inefficient;
- Prioritize the importance of each process;
- Map the process;
- Brainstorm a small change;
- Experiment with the new process;
- Analyze what went right and what went wrong.
By creating benchmarks for each task, you can easily analyze if the task is efficient or not. It’s important to note that you do not have to throw out the whole process if it is inefficient. It could be beneficial to look at each aspect of the procedure to determine if a small change will suffice.
Invest in Technology
New technologies can help improve business practices and make you more efficient by allowing your team to communicate better. If your company’s success depends on interdepartmental communication, you could invest in project management and messaging software that allows you to improve your service scheduling and management processes. This is especially true for people working in skilled trades like landscaping. Landscapers work on multiple projects a day, so they must be punctual and get their projects done promptly. By using landscaping scheduling software, their clients can book appointments that would automatically populate on the company’s servers. Then, a manager could use route management software to help dispatch landscape workers to new jobs by way of more efficient routes.
Feedback is essential for both internal and external business growth. Employees could bring unique points of view and insight to business structures and processes that you may not have seen before. Additionally, a Deloitte study shows employees value leaders who listen to their ideas, rather than extra compensation and benefits. On the other hand, employees perform better when they have feedback from their employers. Some benefits of feedback in the workplace include:
- Increased motivation;
- Greater performance;
- Continuous learning;
- Improved relationships;
- Personal growth;
- Increased confidence.
While positive feedback can go a long way, it’s also important to acknowledge critical feedback. Critical feedback in the workplace can also motivate and encourage employees to do better. Lastly, customer feedback is just as important as internal feedback. Gathering customer feedback could help you glean more insights about your company and internal processes that can help make it more efficient.
Incentive programs help motivate employees to work harder and achieve higher standards, which can mean greater efficiency for your business. When implemented correctly, employees recognize incentives as management’s efforts to reward their workers for a job well done. Examples of incentive programs that can be easily implemented include:
- Monetary bonuses for working ahead of schedule;
- Awarding workers more money based on the company’s success;
- Supporting advancement opportunities;
- Bonuses based on projects;
- Recognizing special employee contributions with verbal or monetary rewards.
Incentive plans can be as formal or as informal as you want, however, you must be consistent with rewards to ensure that employees stay motivated.
Stimulating efficiency in your business can seem overwhelming, especially if you are trying to grow the company. However, by analyzing processes, providing feedback, and creating a productive workplace culture, you can streamline your business and its practices to be as efficient as possible.