3 Ways to Make Your Small Business More Efficient
When you own and operate a small business, little inefficiencies can result in big problems. Any time and expense spent on internal administration takes resources away from revenue-generating activities. To combat disarray within your business, make sure you have consistent processes in place and use all the tools and strategies at your disposal.
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1. Outsource Basic Administrative Functions
For large corporations that employ hundreds or thousands of employees, in-house support systems make a lot of sense. Benefits administration, tech support, and payroll processing can justify having dedicated employees in sizable operations.
Of course, that’s not an option for all companies. Small business owners often have to choose between handling these processes themselves, delegating to employees without relevant experience, or might be forced to hire a costly specialist.
When it comes to activities like payroll, your small business will almost always come out ahead with a third-party software or service. Surprisingly affordable, many handle all the calculations and tax filings, plus allow employees to manage their own time-off requests, view pay stubs, and access annual tax documents.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge, try free payroll calculators to see how easy paychecks can be when you have a little help. And keep in mind that full-service payroll software often integrates with retirement plans or accounting software to seamlessly transfer payroll data.
2. Don’t Let Anyone Become Essential
Not letting a single member of your team become essential isn’t to say that you should hold your workers back. Instead, you need to have processes in place so that your enterprise can continue to function if a team member is no longer available. This could be due to an accident, illness, or an employee departure — voluntary or involuntary.
This concept even applies to the business owner. While your absence might not be sustainable in the long term, basic functions should be able to continue if you are away. The secrets to ensuring no major interruptions occur are cross-training and internal documentation.
Cross-training can be done on an officewide scale or on a buddy system. This is mostly determined by how many employees you have on staff. It might be feasible for a group of three to have basic familiarity with how to perform each other’s jobs. For a 15-person business, cross-training will need to be done in groups of two or three.
Basic cross-training can give an overview of what each person does and how they do it. For specific instructions that keep processes consistent, it’s best to maintain internal operations manuals. These should be detailed enough that someone who has not gone through cross-training should be able to perform the required function.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Just because essential parts of your business are a time drain, it doesn’t mean they need to remain so. Start by making a list of the ways your team members spend their time. You’d be surprised at the number of functions that can be streamlined or automated by software.
Maybe your main funnel for new clients is through staff reaching out to schedule appointments by phone. But what if potential customers could schedule their own appointments? By placing a calendar scheduling link on your website, people can select their own time slots. If your office wants to block off certain times when appointments aren’t allowed, those slots will be unavailable through the link.
Not only will this help cut down on time your team members spend, but some clients prefer scheduling appointments themselves. You can still keep your phone line available for those who want to use that option. Having an alternate means of scheduling can both provide quality customer service and relieve some administrative burden.
Another example of using technology to increase efficiency is through electronic document storage. If your office has a vast amount of paper documents, it might take some initial time and investment to switch over to a paperless system. Once the system is in place, however, pulling and passing around physical files can become a thing of the past. Better still, it’s much easier to find wanted information in a digital format due to search functions.
Going paperless also has the potential to free up substantial square footage. Being efficient in business can be as tangible as being efficient with your spatial footprint. You can achieve the same goal by offering remote work options. By limiting the number of employees in the office at any given time, you might be able to lessen your real estate expenses.
More Efficiency, More Success
Whether you’re just getting started with your small business or trying to improve internal processes of long standing, efficiency is key. Without it, you could be missing out on potential time and cost savings. Those savings can add up over time, putting you on a path toward maximizing your profits.