“How do I make my business more efficient?” is a question business owners or CEOs might ask themselves every day. While what constitutes “efficiency” might differ from one industry to the next, generally speaking, an efficient business is one that manufactures (and/or distributes) the products it sells without excessive cost, effort or waste. The result of this focus on efficiency means such businesses can afford to deploy greater resources for growth-related operations (including research and development) while keeping expenditures down and profits high.
So how can you go about building more efficiency into your business? As any TAB Business Owner Advisory Board member might tell you, look first into your own style of working and leadership (and then the rest of the business):
Get out of “reactive” mode. Too many CEOs waste valuable time and energy focusing on tasks that are urgent, but not important. “Putting out fires” shouldn’t be at the top of your job description.
Improving efficiency begins by looking closely at “where you’re losing time,” but this requires that you acknowledge “when you’re being stubborn and when you’re refusing to let go of the reins.” In other words, start delegating today.
Never hold a meeting without a specified purpose and time-limit. By and large, company meetings are inefficient. Leaders call them for vague reasons, inviting too many (and therefore, the wrong) people, and no one dares suggest the meeting should end sooner, rather than later.
Look at the possibility of convening a 15-minute “meeting of the day” where employees and/or managers can quickly describe their current work situation and then release people to go do their jobs.
Get rid of obstacles to communications. Often in a large company, there’s no centralized method for sharing valuable information, due to silos or independent divisions. Smaller businesses aren’t immune to communications obstacles either, particularly if the company culture doesn’t encourage people to share news and insights that might make overall operations more efficient.
With modern technology, there’s no excuse for not keeping everyone in the loop. Whether through video conferencing software or cloud-based intranets, don’t sacrifice efficiency due to miscommunication or other related issues.
Pay attention to employee morale. Happy employees are generally more productive and efficient employees. When you go to the trouble of hiring smart, talented people, it only makes good business sense to see that they’re well compensated, enjoy industry-standard benefits and have continuous opportunities for development.
Explore outsourcing options. Your business is very good at making and/or delivering a product or service to customers. It may not be particularly efficient in certain key operational areas, such as IT, HR, accounting, and so on.
In all these areas, outsourcing services focus on providing efficient service to client companies, and the overall costs may be less than what your business spends now internally. Imagine, for example, how much time and money might be saved if a quality job placement firm landed you the right employees for your business.
Always have a disaster management plan in place. It may not be a flood or earthquake or tsunami, but someunforeseen event can cripple your business if you don’t plan ahead. Being efficient includes contingency planning and devoting resources and information to take decisive action if a natural or man-made disaster occurs. Commit to a comprehensive analysis of specific potential threats and what you can do to mitigate them. Itemise your most valuable assets and layout crisis-management steps to keep these assets safe and secure.
And always have an emergency communications plan ready because “your ultimate priority during any crisis is to preserve the trust of your customers” and employees.