It’s difficult to succeed in business today, especially as a small business owner. Competition is fierce, prices are high, and technology changes at the blink of an eye. How do you stay afloat? The key is to improve your small business efficiency.
It really comes down to your bottom line. By tackling efficiency head on, you’re saving time which also usually saves money. Saving time and money is awesome and helps increase your business profits.
But where do you begin?
Not to worry; here’s a list of tips that will help you improve efficiency for your small business – and you can start today!
Efficiency Tip #1: Set Goals
If you’re reading this article in the hopes of improving your small business efficiency, guess what? You’re already on your way to becoming more efficient: you’ve got a goal!
Is It a Goal or a Hope?
Want to do something or achieve something? Think about what it would be like if you had this thing? That’s called daydreaming or being hopeful, and although it’s important, it’s not really going to make your small business more efficient. When you move from feeling the desire for achieving that thing to envisioning an action plan, you’ve moved from a hope to a goal.
How to Set a Goal
When it comes to goals, be specific.
Let’s say you’re a small business owner – an electrician. You’ve just started to work for yourself, and you need more customers. You’ve heard that most people read and trust online reviews when they’re searching for an electrician to hire. You decide that increasing positive reviews on Google is a great way to boost business for your new company.
If you want new business from your reviews, then achieving new business is actually the end goal, and getting more positive reviews is just one mini-goal toward the bigger goal.
You want to increase positive reviews for your business on Google. Great! That’s your goal. Next, get specific about your goal.
- How many reviews do I want?
- Number of reviews I have now:
- Ideal number of reviews:
- What’s a realistic timeframe to achieve this?
- Number of employees assigned to this project:
- Number of business hours dedicated to this project:
- Realistic schedule:
The Trouble with Goals
Sometimes, a goal gets out of hand. Or it becomes buried under lots of other goals. Other times, the goal is difficult to achieve and loses momentum.
When crafting a goal for your small business, keep these pointers in mind:
- Keep goals attainable
- Measure progress
- Identify weaknesses/strengths
Ready, Set, Goal!
As a small business owner, you’re likely interested in saving time and money, and a huge step toward doing that is to be more efficient.
Efficiency Tip #2: Plan More
When it comes to planning, there are usually two types of people: those who love it and those who hate it. But if you really want to improve your small business efficiency, the important thing isn’t how you feel about planning, it’s that you do it.
Want to be more efficient? Plan more. Think about what you’re going to do before you jump into it.
Planning for People Who Hate Plans
The people who love to plan will excel in this stage; those who don’t like to plan may drag their feet. For those of you who look at planning as a waste of time, think of it like this: do you worry about being more efficient? Do you wish that you could find the time to get things organized, so that you could get more done, faster? Instead of worrying or wishing, start planning! You’re already thinking about efficiency, right? Organize your thoughts, record them, then decide on an action plan.
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Winston Churchill
How to Organize Your Thoughts into a Plan
First things first. What’s the difference between thinking about something and planning something? A plan is specific set of actions that produce a result.
So, if you want to create a plan, let’s first decide what result we want to produce (aka, set a goal). Now that you’ve got your goal, it’s time to create a plan.
- Set a specific goal (see tip #1)
- How will you get from where you are now to accomplishing your end goal?
To figure this out, you may need to research your ideas before you can create a concrete plan, but that’s okay. It’s part of becoming more efficient.
The Small Business Owner’s Plan (an example)
In the example about the electrician, the business owner has decided he wants to get more business reviews on Google. Great idea!
Now, how do you do it?
- Define your goal in real numbers
- Create a realistic timeframe to complete your goal
- Identify the steps you need to take to reach your goal
- Identify how many hours (or employees) you can devote to your goal
- Get started!
Do I Really Need to Plan?
Yes! It may seem counterintuitive but planning can actually save you time overall.
How does planning save time? A plan saves time in lots of ways, but here are a few of the most important:
Planning helps you:
- Reduce errors
- Prevent unnecessary work
- Identify issues proactively
Ready, Set, Plan!
A plan is your first action step toward your goal.
Efficiency Tip #3: Invest in Your Team
An uneducated or ignorant team – yourself included – is a major source of inefficiency. If your goal is to improve your small business efficiency, then you need to spend time investing in your team (again, yourself included).
But I Don’t Have Time to Invest
It can be difficult to set aside time to invest into your team’s education and training. There can be a lot of moving pieces – what some employees may need help with, others already understand; scheduling time to educate multiple team members can get tricky. There’s another challenge with this: what if you’re the only employee? Do you really have time to invest in more education?
The answer is that you do have time to invest into education, and you should invest in education and training – even if you’re the only person on the team. The reason you should invest into education and training up front is to save yourself time long term. Educate yourself now, and save time later.
How to Invest Time to Save Time
Make this work for you by setting time aside once a week to invest into your team and yourself. Select a day of the week that works for you. Maybe it’s Monday morning, before your team goes into the field for the day. Maybe it’s early Friday afternoon before your team leaves for the day. Whatever you decided, the first step is to carve out time specifically to train and educate yourself and your team.
Next, determine how long you’ll spend each week on education and training. Start with an hour or two and see how that works for you.
After you’ve decided when, next determine what. What topics does your team struggle with? This doesn’t have to be something technical, many teams struggle more with the social or professional aspects of a business than they do with the technical skills needed for their jobs.
Finally, what is your format for your education and training sessions? Will you educate your team in your office and offer lunch? Do you plan to speak, show videos, or hand out information?
Some other questions to consider: how does your team learn best? Is it easier to train everyone at once or just a few at a time?
No need to figure everything out right away. Just hold your first training session and make improvements as you go.
The Small Business Owner’s Team (an example)
Let’s go back to our example of a small business owner, an electrician, who is just starting out on his own. He’s decided to improve his small business efficiency by investing in his education each Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, he’s noticed that, although he’s been hearing positive reviews from his customers, they aren’t leaving reviews on Google. He discovers that many of his customers don’t know how to leave a positive review on Google, so they don’t.
Our electrician takes one hour to read about business reviews on Google and learns how to post a review on Google. He starts carrying his iPad in his work van, so he can show his customers how to leave positive reviews.
When he gets his first employee, he teaches him how to walk a customer through the process of leaving a review for the company. The electrician makes this part of his sales process and, over time, amasses a large collection of great reviews on Google.
Do I Really Need to Invest More Time in My Team?
Your goal is to become more efficient, therefore you need to increase efficiency in your day-to-day activities. By making things more efficient on a smaller scale, you’ll end up creating a more efficient system overall.
This tip is designed to help you improve efficiency in your small business. The reason it works is that ignorance and confusion cost time and money – and many times, those things also cost you your reputation.
Investing time into education helps you:
- Reduce errors
- Reduce inconsistencies
- Introduce new ideas
Ready, Set, Learn!
Remember, education and training are ways to improve your small business efficiency in the long term. When you first set aside time to learn, you may feel like you’re wasting time. But education is something that increases not only your efficiency, it also increases your value. You may not see or understand how this works right away, but education and training are things that show their worth more and more over time.
Efficiency Tip #4: Incorporate Automation
Ready to kick things into high gear? Introducing… automation!
Automation is about making things automatic. When things happen automatically, you save time. Instead of waking up and turning on the coffee pot every morning, fill it the night before and set an automatic timer on your machine, so that it brews your coffee before you wake up!
The same principle can be applied to your small business. Instead of an automatic cup of coffee each morning, automate parts of your business to save time and money (and become really, really efficient).
But Automation is Complicated
If you’ve never used automation before, it can seem complicated and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. There are easy ways to add automation to your business to improve efficiency. Not only that, but you don’t have to do everything alone. Ask a mentor for advice or seek out a marketing agency to give you a little help.
The Small Business Owner’s List of Tasks to Automate
Ready to think about automation? You can start small or go big; automation opportunities abound for small businesses. Here are just a few ways you can add automation to your business.
Improve efficiency by automating:
- Customer support
- Email marketing
- Social media posts
- Incoming calls
- Bill payments
Automation in Action
Let’s continue with the example of a small business owner who wants more reviews on Google. He could add automation to his plan by sending out an automated email asking for a review once a job is complete.
Ready, Set, Automate!
Want to incorporate automation and improve your business efficiency at the same time? Choose one area of your business to automate, then research that topic online or ask an expert. Remember, there’s no need to feel intimidated; you’re not in this alone!
Efficiency Tip #5: Upfit Your Work Vehicle
If you’re a small business owner who works out of a van or truck, one way to improve your small business efficiency is to upfit your vehicle. Organize your vehicle to create a more efficient space. Organization makes things easier to locate and access. Plus, if you want to be more efficient, you can upfit your vehicle to match and support your work process.
Where to Start with an Upfit
If you want to improve efficiency inside your work vehicle, it can be intimidating. Where do you start?
First, identify the type of vehicle you use. Note the unique features about the vehicle that impact its size and accessibility. Is it a high-roof vehicle? If so, you have more room inside the van for tools and storage but getting your ladder off the roof can be a challenge.
Next, make a list of tools and equipment you use. Organize this list by noting how much you access each item, the size and weight of the item, and any other notes that pertain to the item (i.e. does it need to be in locked storage?).
To create an organized vehicle, determine what type of storage you need based on the tools you carry and how/when you access them. For example, you may want to put portable storage near your side door, so that it’s easy to reach inside, grab the storage tote, and go.
But an Upfit is Too Much Work
If you look at your work vehicle and think, “There is no way I can upfit this by myself,” then you’re in luck! Just as with automation (see tip #4), you’re not in this alone. It is a process to plan out each part of your vehicle for maximum space and efficiency. But the payoff is huge!
A vehicle upfit helps you:
- Decrease time spent managing tools
- Decrease stress
- Decrease time spent in your vehicle
Ready, Set, Upfit!
Get started with vocational upfits to help you plan the space inside and outside your vehicle. An upfit creates a storage system designed around you, so that you can be more efficient every single day.
Small Business Efficiency Can Be Improved
It’s time for you to get on your way to improving efficiency for your small business. This list of efficiency tips is just the start – find lots of resources in our blog and on our website at www.adriansteel.com.
Here are some of our most popular blogs about improving efficiency:
About Adrian Steel Upfits
Adrian Steel manufactures contractor-grade products and storage solutions including shelving, drawers, cabinets, partitions, ladder racks, aluminum toolboxes, and accessories. Beyond manufacturing, our dedicated Customer Care Team and a network of highly qualified distributors can have your vehicle upfitted at a location convenient for you – at the factory, out of dealer stock, at your place of business, or through a bailment pool.
Plus, upfits installed by an authorized Adrian Steel distributor are covered for a full 3 years or 36,000 miles.
Find a distributor near you to get started today!
Connect with Adrian Steel on Social Media to answer polls, get industry tips, see the latest equipment, and more!