Without a business plan and set processes in place, SMEs will struggle to operate with the utmost efficiency. To put it bluntly, efficiency is what makes a small business profitable. Fine tuning your business model will enable your SME to grow and expand - it’s a process of organization, preparation and planning. Not keeping up with your company can result in financial loss and damage your company’s reputation. It’s a situation you need to avoid to ensure you see to any inefficiencies with a number of steps.
Start with these five top tips to improve the efficiency in your SME…
This is not an overnight fix and will take some time, but where efficiency is involved, you need to start with your employees. This isn’t about pointing the finger, it’s about taking the time to understand your individual team members and identify any areas for improvement, or any areas where they may benefit from additional assistance. Start by looking through their human resource file to determine whether there are any standout issues. If you do notice any issues or bad habits, don’t jump straight to a disciplinary. Instead, schedule a meeting with the employee and discuss on a one-to-one basis their feelings and iron out any issues. Be willing to help, and don’t make anyone feel as though they’re in trouble!
There comes a stage with every SME where outsourcing is inevitable, and it’s not a bad idea either. Everything from data entry, to payroll, admin and accounting can be outsourced in order to relieve pressure from your workforce. This will enable you to free-up your time, and the time of your employees, to focus on core business activity. Outsourcing is also a great solution if you need a job done but you aren’t quite in the position to take someone on in a full-time position.
Automation is key! Technology has exploded in the past decade, and has created a great opportunity for businesses to automate a number of processes and save an incredible amount of time. While automation does not replace the need for human beings, it does help to create a more efficient method of working. Research different software that could help your business to run smoothly and avoid any bumps in the road. Losing track of finances? There’s software out there that can help to keep a track of expenditure and produce reports from your data. Stock control? Ditch the old manual process and upgrade with a mobile barcode scanner to save time and reduce errors.
One major cause of inefficiency within organizations is a lack of communication. Touching base with your colleagues may seem simple but wires are often crossed and emails misinterpreted which can cause issues down the line. Look to streamline your communications. Schedule frequent face-to-face team meetings, use Skype where physical meetings are tricky and look into apps such as Slack which can help the team to communicate effectively and stay in the loop.
While you may think your business is running efficiently, do your customers feel the same? Social media has opened up an incredible opportunity for small businesses to speak to their target audience first-had and gain an invaluable insight to their own customers. Keep a close eye on your reviews, use your social channels to ask for feedback and how you can improve the customer experience of your business.