Starting and operating a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to develop strategies and processes that help to improve efficiency, save resources, and stimulate business growth. A proactive small business owner will search for helpful tools and resources to help their business grow and develop whilst still maintaining productivity.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of seven simple tips to help optimise efficiency for any small business.
Create a Balanced Schedule
A small business owner has a lot on their plate every day. The process of juggling customer and employee issues, profit and loss, advertising and sales, along with the daily drag of operations can create disorder and chaos. If you’re looking to be productive despite your hectic schedule, you need to be focused, have good time-management skills, and still maintain some flexibility.
Start by setting aside time during the day for personal breaks, as reducing your stress will help you improve business efficiency. Second, make sure to stay busy through the business day, as open scheduling can reduce productivity. Finally, set a schedule for emails, replying to phone calls, employee issues and the like, otherwise communication can consume your whole day.
Embrace Change to Cater to Customer Needs
Many bigger businesses have departments that specifically research consumer trends and come up with solutions to deliver the perfect solution to customers. Smaller companies with reduced budgets don’t have these resources at their disposal. However, one item they all share is the ability to embrace change or fine-tune their strategies with product or service development in response to trends in the marketplace. Consider researching new products, their price point, and how customers are responding, before jumping the gun to be the first to get the product to market.
Stay in Your Lane
It is important for a business to offer diversity in its products and services. However, there is a point where spreading yourself thin is counterproductive. If you’ve established a solid brand, and a good product line, feel free to spread your wings – just make sure to do so gradually and with a planned and balanced attack strategy. If you’re going to expand your brand into sub-brands, make sure you spend the effort and resources ensuring that your sub-brand can stand alone. Develop separate social media accounts, websites, and marketing materials.
Embrace Effective Marketing Solutions
There was a day not too long ago when a marketing strategy was based on handing out free merch to customers. Those days are long gone. While branding is important for increasing recognition, practical freebies may be a better use of your resources. Instead of focusing on putting your brand on a stapler that will sit on a dusty shelf, consider daily use items like coffee keep-cups, pens, and fridge-magnets to drive home that brand recognition.
This type of creative marketing strategy also applies to email marketing. Instead of sending daily or weekly specials and discounts, think outside the box and offer your customers something unique and of value. Think about offering a ‘top 10 list’ of helpful hints that help your customers improve their daily lives. Just make sure it’s relevant content that not only inspires them to open that email but helps develop their positive relationship with your company.
Always Protect Your Assets
A firm, hardy handshake is great for agreements in principle, but when the business is ready to get going nothing beats a solid contract. A professionally written contract that is clear, to the point, and leaves no room for interpretation is the best way to protect any business. If you are engaged in a business that involves the sale of products or services of a value higher than $500, a business term longer than a year, or are transferring ownership, a professional contract is crucial. It is also important for businesses to consider their insurance options.
Provide Incentives to Referrals
While getting a good referral is an act of kindness by many, sometimes consumers need to be encouraged to help spread the word about your business. Anytime you receive a referral from a previous customer, make sure to reward them in turn. Whether it’s a thank you card, a delivery of flowers, or tickets to the local sporting event, if a previous customer is rewarded for their act of kindness, this will maintain and strengthen that relationship.
Don’t Stop Learning
Any smart business leader understands the value of education. From learning a new trade or skill or being educated by a new vendor on improving their operations, everyone that manages or owns a business should embrace learning as the ultimate positive. Take time to seek out new ideas from like-minded business owners who serve similar customers but aren’t your direct competition. Connect with new vendors or suppliers to continue to evolve and introduce better products for your customers. And most importantly, connect with your people, and learn all you can from them.