These days, the technological advances and growing freelance economy mean there are more opportunities for small business owners to streamline their business practices than ever before. While a business owner once had little choice but to keep every function (even the ones they dreaded) in-house, now there’s either a tool to simplify and automate it or a professional out there who will gladly do the work for you.
With so many different ways to streamline your business practices, we thought we would take a quick look at some of the best…
1. Outsource it!
Do you struggle to market your business effectively online and keep on top of the finances? Outsource it. Is HR a headache you could do without? Outsource it. There are a huge range of professional service providers and freelancers out there who are ready and waiting to help you out. That includes everything from managed IT services to specialist small business accountants, HR professionals and more. Yes, the additional help will cost you, but make sure you weigh that cost up carefully against the expense of keeping a function you are certainly no expert at in-house.
2. Take your invoicing online
We don’t want to be a mouthpiece for the many online accounting software providers out there (they do plenty of marketing as it is), but if invoicing is one of the banes of your life then it could be money well spent.
When you’ve finished a busy week in the office, the last thing most business owners want is to grab the laptop on a Saturday morning and start sending out invoices. Accounting software packages allow you to send invoices in seconds. They can also tell you when payments have been made so you don’t waste valuable time logging in and out of your bank account numerous times a day.
3. Find the right tools
Modern business owners cannot afford to be technophobes. While there might have been a certain charm to business owners who refused to use email 10 years ago, now they’re really holding their business back. There are tools out there that can streamline every aspect of your business, whether it’s project management, social media, customer service or collaboration between your team. Research guides and articles from professionals in your industry to find some of the best tools available right now to improve your operations.
4. Hold fewer staff meetings
How many staff meetings have you left thinking “that was a really productive and efficient use of everyone’s time’? It can’t be more than about 1. Staff meetings do serve a purpose but so many businesses get them all wrong.
A study by the University of Amsterdam found that dysfunctional meetings were associated with lower levels of innovation, market share and employment stability. Moreover, a study by the University of North Carolina found that how workers feel about the effectiveness of meetings correlates with their general level of satisfaction in their jobs. Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to run more effective meetings.
5. Ignore emails for an hour a day
Business owners who are slaves to their email and social media platforms will never get anything done. Rather than instigating change and pushing the business forward, they spend their time refreshing their inbox and being reactive rather than proactive.
Completely disconnecting, even if it’s just for an hour a day, will allow you to concentrate on the things that matter without being constantly distracted. Letting employees know when you won’t be available by email will ensure that if there is anything critically important they need to talk to you about, they will contact you in person or by phone.
Make time to streamline!
Hopefully, these five simple suggestions will be of some help in your business. We appreciate that finding the time to try something new is not always easy, but we’re confident these approaches will be well worth it in the long run.