How to Improve Small Business Efficiency

If you’re looking for a way to grow your businesses in a scalable fashion that protects your bottom line, it starts with becoming more efficient. And even though it’s not as sexy as focusing on marketing or customer experience, efficiency is something you have to take seriously.

5 Tips for Greater Efficiency

Words like “efficiency” get tossed around so often these days that they almost lose their meaning. So before we dig into the how of efficiency, let’s zoom out a little and focus on the what.

As explains, “Efficiency is about making the best possible use of resources. Efficient firms maximize outputs from given inputs, and so minimize their costs. By improving efficiency, a business can reduce its costs and improve its competitiveness.”

Efficiency is a measure of productivity. It’s about increasing your output with the existing inputs you’re already using. Here are several tips for making this happen within your own small business:

  1. Hire the Right People

It’s arguably never been more difficult to find good talent. The “Great Resignation” has led to a mass exodus of employees from their jobs. On the surface, this might seem like a good thing (increasing the pool of available talent).

However, discerning employees are finding that it’s actually making for much more difficult hires. Many of these individuals have unrealistic expectations of work and are the sort of people who want to do the bare minimum. In other words, they expect a lot, but are only willing to give a little.

In order to make your business more efficient, you must be precise with the types of people you hire. Highly productive employees are few and far between. When interviewing candidates, spend most of your time studying their soft skills and personality. It’s much easier to equip someone with technical skills than it is to change their identity.

Productive people tend to be self-motivated individuals who give a lot of attention to detail. They’re also good listeners who aren’t afraid of feedback.

  1. Implement the Right Processes

Having the right people in place is only part of the equation. You’ll have to arm them with the right processes in order to get the most out of them.

Good processes are clear, intuitive, and consistent. They minimize the number of moving parts so that there are fewer potential bottlenecks. Good processes are also documented – ideally in the form of a standard operating procedure (SOP) that can be handed off to anyone.

  1. Automate as Much as Possible

The best processes are automated – at least to a degree. As a general rule of thumb, the more you can remove the potential for human error, the more efficient the process will be.

Take inventory management as an example. This is a common pain point for small businesses. Many companies are still tracking inventory and parts manually in spreadsheets, which quickly gets confusing.

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Parts inventory management software makes it easy to track parts, supplies, and tools in real-time. This makes businesses much more efficient in their manufacturing and other internal processes.

Opportunities for automation exist in almost every corner of your business. You obviously need to be strategic with which tools and software you integrate into your company, but there are clearly lots of good options out there.

  1. Delegate the Small Things

As a business owner or manager, the 80/20 rule applies. In this case, it says that 20 percent of the tasks you do produce 80 percent of the results. These are the tasks you need to focus on. The other 80 percent of tasks (which produce just 20 percent of the results) should be delegated to other employees. And if you’ve done a good job in your hiring, there shouldn’t be any drop-off in quality.

  1. Limit Daily Interruptions

What are the biggest daily interruptions that prevent you and your team from maximizing productivity and efficiency? If you’re like most businesses, meetings are a huge pain point.

What would your weekly operations look like if you cut meetings in half? At first, it may sound impractical. But with a little restructuring, you could easily eliminate three, five, or even 10 meetings per week. This would free up significant time for your team to focus on output.

Putting it All Together

You can’t improve efficiency by sitting on the sidelines and hoping things get better. In order to grow, you have to proactively hire the right people, implement the right processes, integrate automation, delegate non-essential tasks, and limit daily interruptions. In doing so, you’ll dramatically improve your output and bolster the bottom line.