I wrote a blog post entitled, Your Key To Success: 8 Productivity Tips for a Better Year, about increasing your productivity. Read that post first because it gives you the foundational principles for this blog post. In this blog post, I want to provide insight on how to be a productive small business owner.
As small business owners, sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with all the tasks we need to get done. There’s so much to do in a small business. Sometimes we don’t have the resources or the staff to do everything that needs to get done. Productivity is an essential factor in how we run our business.
In this blog post, I will give you my top 5 productivity tips, explain when to use these tips, and how they will benefit you as a small business owner.
Table of Contents
- 5 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners
- Tip #1 – Delegate and Outsource Tasks
- Tip #2 – Understand Your Customers
- Tip #4 – Understand How Your Business Operates
- Tip #5 – Maintain Your Business
5 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners
- Delegate and outsource tasks
- Understand your customers
- Know Your Numbers
- Maintain your business
If you implement these 5 tips you will:
- Manage your time better
- Build better relationships with your customers
- Increase your profits
- Become more competitive
- Improve your business operations
Tip #1 – Delegate and Outsource Tasks
As you begin to run your business, you realize that you can do everything. The more hats that you wear as a business owner, the less productive you are. You end up switching tasks a lot. Task-switching makes you less productive. So, it’s good to understand how to outsource and delegate tasks within your business.
You can do this by:
- Using automation
- Hiring an expert
- Developing standard operating procedures
- Resolve bottlenecks
One you can do is to set up automation. Automation is not only having a computer do everything. It is understanding how to do the task so that you can do it over and over again.
Hire an Expert
You also run into the case where you may need to hire an expert. We always think of ourselves as The Expert in everything related to our business. Sometimes it’s hard to give up that control because we’re so used to doing so much.
Hiring someone better than us or as good can help our business move forward faster. We’re not taking on as many tasks as we use to. We have more time to focus on our strengths.
Outsourcing tasks also ties into knowing what tasks you delegate and who is responsible for those tasks. When we delegate tasks, we want to make sure they’re going to the right person for the job. Sometimes we delegate a task to someone that isn’t the right person for the task. We usually do this when someone we know vouches for the person we hire. We do this because we don’t have the time to find the right person. Instead, we want the task done.
Hiring the wrong person can cause you to lose productivity in your business. You might have to go behind the person and correct his or her mistakes. Correcting mistakes might entail hiring someone else to redo the task. We skip verifying someone’s credentials out of familiarity. Making sure we have the right person for the job will save us time and money.
Develop Standard Operating Procedures
Next, we want to develop standard operating procedures. Standard operating procedures are essential because we wish to have high-quality products and services. It is also good to know what to do, how long it’s going to take, and the quality of the outcome. Having Standard Operating Procedures helps us understand what to expect and how long it will take to do specific tasks when in our business.
It can take a while to develop standard operating procedures, especially when you’re a new business. The reason why is because you’re always testing out new things and improving systems. You still want to update your standard operating procedures as your processes change.
You will find various reasons to change your processing in your business. New technology comes out, and old technology goes away. The software you use might not receive support. It keeps having glitches. The developers aren’t fixing it. Prices go up on the software you use. Some companies offer a cheaper and superior product.
As small business owners, we are flexible. We can take advantage of new technologies. We can also adapt to changes in our industry quicker. Unlike large businesses, we don’t have to worry about a lot of overhead when making small changes. That’s why we need to focus on improving our processes.
Another thing you’ll have to look into is where employees face bottlenecks. I struggled with this before. In one of my businesses that failed, I didn’t have employees. I had interns. I wasn’t used to having to delegate tasks to someone. So in my mind, I knew what to do and how to do it.
I didn’t know you know how to delegate tasks. Everything was in my head. I was expecting my interns to understand what I was thinking. We had a difficult time getting things done on time. I was unclear about what my expectations were. I didn’t explain my processes well. Instead, I gave them a short document of everything I did. It wasn’t well written.
Sometimes we have to look at all the challenges our employees face and tackle them head-on. Being confronted with challenges is another reason why having standard operating procedures is essential. It puts what you have in your head on paper in easy to follow steps. You are then able to pass a task on to someone else.
Tip #2 – Understand Your Customers
One aspect of being a small business owner is to understand your customers. Understanding your customers influences how productive your business is. Your business is there to solve a customer’s problem. Without customers, you wouldn’t have a business.
You can do this by
- Understanding Your Customers’ Needs
- Solving Your Customers’ Problems
- Maintaining Communication With Your Customers
Understand Your Customers’ Needs
When you decide to be more productive, it’s good to know what your customers want. The reason why you want to know what your customers want is so that you can give it to them. You can corner your market by giving your customer what they want. It would be best if you also were more productive than the competition while doing it.
Solve Your Customers’ Problems
You also want to be able to provide better customer service than your competition. You need to be aware of what questions your customers will be asking you. You also want to be able to communicate the answers to those questions. You also want to have a system in place that allows you to reach your customers that works for them.
Maintain Communication With Your Cusotmers
If you’re not communicating with your customers, you’re wasting a lot of time. If you are not doing that, you’re not as productive as you can be. Understand who your customers are and their problems. You need to be able to solve your customer’s issues and leave them feeling satisfied. As you manage your employees, you need to make sure they can communicate with your customers.
Tip #3 – Know Your Numbers
All business owners should know their numbers. Knowing what your numbers are lets, you know where you can make your business more productive. A company is only productive if it either makes a profit or it gains market share. You have to decide what’s your focus. Do you focus on generating a profit, or do you focus more on increasing your market share?
You can do this by:
- Picking a financial focus
- Creating financial and time budgets
- Define What Productivity is for Your Business
Pick a Financial Focus
Large businesses or businesses with investors can focus on both. As a small business owner, one should be your primary focus. Concentrate on either your profits or market share will make your business more productive.
Create Financial and Time Budgets
Also, know your financial and time budget. Your budget is a reflection of your productivity. Your financial budget details what you’re spending money on and how much you spent. Your time budget details all how much time you spend on tasks.
Knowing these numbers gives you a chance to refine your business processes. You can also use them to refine your standard operating procedures. Without knowing these numbers, there is no way to tell if your business is productive. Without knowing these numbers, you don’t know if you are getting closer to your business goals. Even though they’re bringing you closer to your goals, you may be going in a roundabout way of getting there.
Define What is Productivity in Your Business
Another important thing you need to do is define a productive year, quarter, month, week, and day. Base your definitions on your business goals. Once you do this, you will understand what to drop, what to add, and what to improve.
Tip #4 – Understand How Your Business Operates
You need to understand how your business operates. Sometimes, we get caught up in our day-to-day tasks. We then forget the most productive way for our company to run. We should always research how our business operates within its industry.
You can do this by:
- Researching your industry
- Creating a strong business culture
- Understanding your competitors
Research Your Industry
If we are not doing the research ourselves, we should hire someone to do it. Also, we don’t want to get into a position where we’re implementing everything we find. We need to realize that everything does not apply to our businesses. We also need to understand that not all research is good research.
I fell into this trap with one of my businesses. I was always looking for the next best process for running my business. Repeatedly doing unnecessary research made me less productive. I was continually refining my processes and going from one direction to another. Instead, I should have stuck with one system. After that, I should have refined the system to work with my business.
What you want to do is you want to look into creating a system that works for your business. It would help if you researched what works for your business and where you can make improvements. Stick to one plan. Do this before you start making improvements to your systems. If you don’t research, then you will become distracted by every new shiny thing.
Create a Strong Business Culture
Next, you want to have a strong business culture. A strong business culture allows you to know when to say yes and when to say no. If something goes against your business culture, don’t do it. Focus on doing tasks that fit with your business culture.
For example, I was helping my friend with his business. He has a specific clientele that he wants for his business. So, he offers his services at a higher price point. Since he has built up a good reputation in his industry, he can get that clientele.
The above example also illustrates how you should know what works in your industry. When you see what works, you’re able to refine your decision-making skills. As you improve your decision-making skills, you will focus more on what works.
The round hole in a square peg is an excellent example of how decision-making skills work. You don’t want to try to push the square peg into the round hole. You can try it 50 times a day, but you’re not productive because it doesn’t work.
I am sometimes guilty of doing this. I sometimes spend time on systems that don’t work. We all should focus our time on refining the techniques that do work.
Understand Your Competitors
Know where your competitors are failing. Knowing this allows you to fill in the gaps. Having this information is a great way to increase your market share. This knowledge also lets you know what you should not try immediately within your business. You should only try what your competitors are failing at if you can improve upon it. Otherwise, you will waste time and money chasing something that doesn’t work.
Tip #5 – Maintain Your Business
Maintaining your business is almost always a struggle for most small business owners. The reason why is because we have limited resources. As we support our businesses, they won’t have huge costs that pop up when this something goes wrong. Maintaining your business won’t stop all emergency expenses. Instead, it will limit them.
One of my favorite shows is The Profit. One of the main issues addressed in the show is that business owners don’t maintain their business. The old systems, processes, and equipment cause the quality of the products to suffer. The procedures the companies on the show use are old and outdated. That puts them into situations where they need someone to come in and provide financial help to them.
Maintaining your business is very important. Without having an organized and well-maintained business, your employee morale will suffer. Once employee morale lowers, employees become less productive.
You can do this by:
- Understanding what is valuable
- Staying organized
- Repairing and replacing broken objects
Understand What is Valuable
When you run your business, it is crucial to understand what is valuable. Decide what you need to toss out. It can be unproductive employees, old equipment, or outdated business practices. It would help if you also decided why something is valuable and worth keeping. Determining what is useful is very important to maintain a functional workspace.
When you’re looking for stuff, you become less productive because you’re losing time. If you organize everything, you know where everything you need is. You’re not wasting time looking for something because it’s right there.
Repair and Replace Broken Objects
You want to repair and replace broken items as soon as possible. You want to do this because using something that’s broken causes a loss of productivity. Using supplies that are not in optimal condition increases the amount of time it takes to complete a task. You’re going to focus on the broken object rather than the job. It also causes you to task switch when you make repairs while trying to complete a task.
Broken items also cause safety issues. If an injury occurs, you will not be able to perform the task. An injury will be something else you will have to deal consider. It will take time away from other tasks that you need to do. If it is an employee, you will suffer a loss of productivity because you will have one less employee.
I gave you five tips on boosting your productivity as a small business owner. These tips help me in my own business. Small business owners, I know, also benefit from these tips. They were able to use these tips to become more productive in their businesses. They were also able to identify how they could improve their own business.