It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all aspects of running a small business. Streamlining a small business means looking for ways to simplify and eliminate extra work in your everyday business operations.
Simplifying your small business has many benefits, such as improved communication and productivity with employees, increased cost-effectiveness through software programs, and better time management through more intelligent use of your time, so you can have more time for living your best life.
Streamlining a small business can involve technology, modern business management strategies, outsourcing, and communication. Today we will look at how to make your business work smarter, not harder.
1. Charting the Process
Your company’s process and workflow are repeatable activities that must be continued to complete a job your company offers. For example, if you run a lawn care business, you have a routine for handling each job. It may involve setting up the appointment with the client, then sending a message when the crew is on the way, performing the service, and, afterward it could involve sending out a customer satisfaction survey and setting up the next service appointment.
Your process and workflows will be unique to your field of expertise. So it is helpful to sit down and list everything that goes into a job from start to finish and beyond. This doesn’t need to be complicated; it can simply be a handwritten list. It would help if you involved the people directly in these processes. Again, if you run a lawn care business, consult your employees to ensure you don’t miss anything regarding the process.
After you write down the process, note areas that can be automated and delegated and write these down.
Prioritizing tasks can be overwhelming when things come at you from all angles. The method shown here is based on the Eisenhower Matrix.
First, determine and write down what’s essential and urgent, and prioritize and finish those tasks. Then figure out what is necessary but not urgent, and schedule those to be done. The functions that are not important but critical are the ones that can be delegated or outsourced (see next section for more info on outsourcing). And as one might suspect, the unimportant and not urgent items – get rid of those. Why waste valuable time and resources?
3. Outsourcing Tasks
Seek to outsource as many of these tasks as you can. For example, if you’re a small business owner using social media to market and promote your business consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA). It will free up much more time to enjoy life and is also a cost-effective option.
The main objective of outsourcing is to get more done in less time by using freelancers and VAs that work on a project-to-project basis or by the hour.
Tasks that can be easily outsourced:
- Social Media and Marketing
- Graphic Design
- Administrative Tasks
- Website Maintenance
- Content marketing
4. Simplify and Automate Processes
Many modern workflow software solutions now help streamline business processes and workflows. Sometimes called business management software, each has features and capabilities that benefit different businesses. Most BPMs are designed to have similar benefits, such as making it easy to collect data in a central location, automating steps in business workflow, and generating better visibility with reports.
One such software app is ServiceWorks; ServiceWorks has many features that can save valuable time and money for small businesses like yours. It features a scheduling module making it easy for clients to book appointments online. ServiceWorks also features route optimization for when multiple service requests in a day will make the best use of time and location, saving time and money. It also has an automated customer satisfaction survey that can be sent after each job in addition to storing client info and setting up the next appointment. How cool is that?
5. Clear and Concise Communication with Employees
As a business owner, your primary focus should be to take care of your employees. In turn, they take good care of your business. Offer them competitive rates, nurture a positive work experience, and let them enjoy perks and incentives, like a flexible schedule or bonuses for bringing new business in.
Mainly, communicate with your employees. Ask for feedback about the processes and genuinely listen and take notes. After all, no one knows what’s happening in the field better than your employees.
6. Continued Improvements to the Process
There is no perfect process for streamlining a small business, and this will require continuous tweaking and improvement. Change the streamlining processes based on your results. It may also take time to train employees on the new approaches, and only some employees may get the technique down correctly the first time.
Refining processes require you to communicate, be patient and ask for additional feedback from clients and employees, which brings us to our next idea.
Let’s do a review of the main points on how to streamline a small business today:
- Charting the process: write down your work process from start to finish.
- Prioritize: divide your tasks into four categories; Urgent and important; Important and not urgent; Urgent but not important; and unimportant and not urgent.
- Outsourcing Tasks: with a virtual assistant or freelancers.
- Simplification and automation: with workflow software such as ServiceWorks that can multitask and do the job of an admin, making scheduling, client info, customer satisfaction, and more all automatic and easy. Best of all, there is a 14-day risk-free trial.
- Communication: talk to and listen to your employees.
Continued improvements: involves making gradual changes and tweaks to the process and workflow.