When you’re in the weeds of manning your own business, taking time to analyze operations may seem like an extraneous use of time. But what if it’s affecting your bottom line? Inefficient processes could be costing businesses 20-30 percent of their annual revenue, and for most people, that turns the assessment from extraneous to essential. Interested in streamlining your business? Start with the following four steps.
Examine every meeting — do you need to be there?
Look at every meeting on your calendar — do you need to have it? Could it be an email instead? More than half of senior managers say meetings prevent them from getting their own work done and from getting deep thinking time at work. If you’re drowning in meetings, setting boundaries and being firm about what should be moved to email or phone can save time and boost efficiency at work.
Reassess tools — do you know what you’re paying for?
Do you really need every tool you’re paying for? Business software and “productivity hacks” are built and advertised ad nauseum, and the price can add up with a bunch of little subscriptions. When assessing your tools, consider whether you actually use them and whether you could you switch to a free or DIY version. For example, did you aspirationally buy a subscription to a digital to-do list app, but find you’re still scribbling handwritten notes instead? Or would the free version of an app serve your purpose just as well for now? Don’t feel pressured to adhere to an idea of organization — do what works for you instead. You’ll save on both money and sanity.
Reevaluate what your people do — could you free up time by partnering up?
Considering what you can outsource and partner on in certain functions may be more valuable than an in-house resource, or more cost effective with agencies/contractors. While a marketing and PR manager may feel crucial to getting the word out about your product, many businesses hire prematurely before they’re ready to sustain steady press, events and and the influx of business that comes along with aggressive marketing. Using an agency or finding a partner company to do tandem marketing could save a lot of money. However, if your business is ready to ramp up something like content marketing to a consistent, strategic level, paying an agency per article is probably inefficient premium.
Hiring for the right functions and outsourcing for others is one of the most strategic moves a small business can make.
Streamline everything — do all your processes talk to each other?
Make sure your apps talk to each other as much as your employees do. If you’re using one service for email, another for tasks, another for CRM and still more for your vital business operations, but none of them integrate, you’re likely wasting a lot of time doing double work. However, there are free services like Zoho that can bring all of your business software together. Zoho includes a variety of apps like small business accounting, CRM, email and more (you can even build your own on their platform), is free up to a few users and keeps all of your data in one service. Considering comparative software can cost businesses thousands per month, a free all-in-one can both streamline your operations and positively affect your overall bottom line.
This article is sponsored by Zoho One, a complete suite of business apps that can help you optimize your business, save time and drive sales. Learn how to use Zoho at the free Zoho One seminar in Atlanta, May 16. Register now.