The secrets to improve productivity in small business
I’m a procrastinator. It’s no secret. Even my old office coffee machine knew about it.
I have created a system, tailored to my needs, which gives me everything I need to get a job done.
Productivity techniques are virtually endless. Over the years, business experts, psychologists and motivational speakers have helped formulate a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts when it comes to maximising your productivity.
These techniques are invaluable for maximising productivity in any modern business. The problem is, many of them are difficult, if not impossible, to practice as a small business owner.
Starting a business?
Unfortunately, the UK is pretty low down on the productivity list. We seem to be a nation which fails to maximise our working time. And given productivity produces profit, it’s an area we shouldn’t be falling short on.
As a small business owner, the productivity demand is even greater. The pressure is often on you and you alone to maximise productivity and generate as much revenue, whilst expending as little resources, as possible.
So, productivity is probably the most important skill to brush up on before starting your own business.
The small business productivity secret
As I mentioned, productivity techniques are a good thing to practice. However, if you’re a small business owner then a lot of these techniques are just not available to you.
You may have no one to delegate tasks to. You are unable to cancel that meeting with a disgruntled customer. You can’t plan for tomorrow without knowing what work might (or might not) be coming in.
But, there is a saving grace for small businesses owners… Technology!
One of the many advantages you have over big businesses is that you call the shots. You can implement technology that works for you and your customers.
The other advantage to small businesses is that many solutions are free or cost very little. Most revenues are generated from large enterprise customers, which means we get to benefit from the services without forking out a fortune in IT spend.
Below, I’ve created a list of areas which have the potential for boosting your productivity without the price tag.
This was one my greatest pain points. Having to take a trip to the bank to pay in cheques, transfer money or open a new bank account. Those days are now gone.
Because I’m a security-conscious person, I was slightly slow on the uptake of mobile banking. I just found the idea scary. Plus, I was never very good at remembering passwords – especially secure ones.
But, mobile banking is a no brainer. The banking you can now do online is virtually limitless.
Technology has now taken us to a place where I can make payments using my phone, transfer money, and view years’ worth of bank statements with a scan of my fingerprint.
Simple, and more importantly, very productive!
With the rise of small business cloud accounting applications, you can take this a step further. The likes of Xero, Quickbooks and Sage One (there are plenty more on offer) have made it incredibly easy to make and take payments, manage your finances, pay employees and share information with your accountant. This means no more paper receipts and spreadsheets.
Productivity comes with smart financial management!
Face-to-face meetings have gained a lot of stigma over recent years. They’re seen as a big productivity killer.
I tend to agree. The typical boardroom set-up, the excessive-invitees, the monotonous monologues which take you far beyond the crux of the meeting are all detrimental to productivity.
Lucky for us, we’re small businesses. No one expects to deal with the sales director, technical director, senior executive associate, junior associate, and three interns, all with their gold-plated iPads.
Our customers expect someone who knows their product or service inside out. Someone who’s available when their needed, and someone who’s prepared to go above and beyond to prove their value.
There is a virtually endless list of free and low-cost collaboration tools which can help you demonstrate just that. You can rest assured there’s a service out there which is a perfect fit your business (and of course – customers), with everything from teleconferencing to project management solutions.
Productivity comes with trust and teamwork!
Cloud storage & document processing
I accept, this is a pretty broad topic and encompasses many other types of productivity tools, but it’s a simple concept where businesses often fall short.
All businesses should be able to access, edit and share documents as and when they need to.
I’ve experienced that nightmare situation one too many times. That important letter requiring action which I seemed to have misplaced. Or frantically trying to copy critical documents from a laptop which has had its last reboot.
Looking for letters and copying large volumes of documents across various hard drives was not a productive use of my time. What did prove productive was implementing a system which allows me on-demand access to everything I need, and putting a few processes in place.
With a scanner, an intranet (internal internet), and a little user training, I can rest easy knowing all my important data can be accessed, edited and shared – and all of it is held securely for as long as I need it.
The biggest player which ticks all (and many more) boxes for businesses is Microsoft Office 365. Google is not far behind with G Suite. But there are plenty of other low-cost products which can work in partnership with any of the existing solutions you are used to.
Productivity comes with peace of mind!
Customer relationship management
Where would we be without our customers...? Well, probably busy trying to find some.
But if you do have a steady flow of customers, then you need a way to manage each of them like they’re your only customer (or at least make them feel like they’re the only one that matters).
We’ve all been there. Called up a company you’re working with, to spend the first 5 minutes explaining who you are and why you are calling. Not very productive use of anyone’s time.
Good customer management is all about creating opportunities, managing them, and maintaining long term relationships.
Every customer or potential customer is unique. That equates to a lot of information you have to manage and keep to hand should one of them get in contact.
That’s where customer relationship management tools come in. A way to manage your prospect enquiries and your current customer engagements. Essential to keep on top of those all important sales opportunities.
We’ve made life easy by reviewing 5 great CRM systems for Small Business – All simple to use and great value solutions.
Productivity is good customer management!
Set yourself up for success
The solutions you use may be completely different to the ones we use. But no matter, the message here is whatever tools you find useful, make sure you can access them wherever you are and whenever you need them.
All my devices are set up for maximum productivity. Everything I need easily accessible and always available.
My smartphone may look like complete mayhem to others – but it’s perfectly set up for my needs. Which reminds me… Cut out the clutter – if you don’t use it, get rid of it! Muddling useful tools with ones you never use is just plain counterproductive.
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