How to Build More Efficiency into Your Business

business efficiency

“How do I make my business more efficient?” is a question business owners or CEOs might ask themselves every day. While what constitutes “efficiency” might differ from one industry to the next, generally speaking, an efficient business is one that manufactures (and/or distributes) the products it sells without excessive cost, effort or waste. The result of this focus on efficiency means such businesses can afford to deploy greater resources for growth-related operations (including research and development) while keeping expenditures down and profits high.

So how can you go about building more efficiency into your business? As any TAB Business Owner Advisory Board member might tell you, look first into your own style of working and leadership (and then the rest of the business):

Get out of “reactive” mode. Too many CEOs waste valuable time and energy focusing on tasks that are urgent, but not important. “Putting out fires” shouldn’t be at the top of your job description.

Improving efficiency begins by looking closely at “where you’re losing time,” but this requires that you acknowledge “when you’re being stubborn and when you’re refusing to let go of the reins.” In other words, start delegating today.

Never hold a meeting without a specified purpose and time-limit. By and large, company meetings are inefficient. Leaders call them for vague reasons, inviting too many (and therefore, the wrong) people, and no one dares suggest the meeting should end sooner, rather than later.

Look at the possibility of convening a 15-minute “meeting of the day” where employees and/or managers can quickly describe their current work situation and then release people to go do their jobs.

Get rid of obstacles to communications. Often in a large company, there’s no centralised method for sharing valuable information, due to silos or independent divisions. Smaller businesses aren’t immune to communications obstacles either, particularly if the company culture doesn’t encourage people to share news and insights that might make overall operations more efficient.

With modern technology, there’s no excuse for not keeping everyone in the loop. Whether through video conferencing software or cloud-based intranets, don’t sacrifice efficiency due to miscommunication or other related issues.

Pay attention to employee morale. Happy employees are generally more productive and efficient employees. When you go to the trouble of hiring smart, talented people, it only makes good business sense to see that they’re well compensated, enjoy industry-standard benefits and have continuous opportunities for development.

Explore outsourcing options. Your business is very good at making and/or delivering a product or service to customers. It may not be particularly efficient in certain key operational areas, such as IT, HR, accounting, and so on.

In all these areas, outsourcing services focus on providing efficient service to client companies, and the overall costs may be less than what your business spends now internally. Imagine, for example, how much time and money might be saved if a quality job placement firm landed you the right employees for your business.

Always have a disaster management plan in place. It may not be a flood or earthquake or tsunami, but some unforeseen event can cripple your business if you don’t plan ahead. Being efficient includes contingency planning and devoting resources and information to take decisive action if a natural or man-made disaster occurs. Commit to a comprehensive analysis of specific potential threats and what you can do to mitigate them. Itemize your most valuable assets and layout crisis-management steps to keep these assets safe and secure.

And always have an emergency communications plan ready because “your ultimate priority during any crisis is to preserve the trust of your customers” and employees.

Want more advice on making your business more efficient? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


Leadership Tips to Systematise Your Business


At some point, every business must impose a systematic structure on its operations or risk losing untold amounts of time and money on inefficiency and lapses in productivity. Having systems in place not only guards against these negative factors, it helps businesses expand with fewer difficulties because everyone in the organisation understands how things get done and who the ultimate customer or end-user is.

“Anything performed in your company at least twice needs a proven system,” notes efficiency expert Nancy Gaines. “Anything performed three times or more should be automated.”

Low-level business systems that get repeated (and should, therefore, be automated) range from lead generation and social media marketing to client onboarding, employee recruiting and inventory management. High-level areas that cry out for more detailed systematising, Gaines says, include sales, marketing, HR functions and front- and back-office activities.

How should you as CEO or business owner get the systematising process rolling?

Identify and evaluate all existing systems. Instruct a key team leader to compile a list of all existing business operations with the goal of asking fundamental questions about each one:

  • Why does this system exist?
  • What specific purpose does it serve?
  • What challenges does the system overcome?
  • How does it contribute to the growth of the business?

Get your employees involved. For many, if not most, business operations, your employees are the ones who know “how things work.” As part of the systematising (or mapping) process, involve them in identifying issues that prevent a smooth running of the business, such as paperwork bottlenecks or procedural roadblocks. This information is crucial for improving business systems.

Ask employees to identify and record daily, repetitive tasks for one week. A compilation of all employee records of their week’s activities should give you a clear idea of where they all fit into the bigger picture.

Pinpoint customers and end-users for all systems. No matter what the process or system is, there should always be an end-user in mind–customers (internal or external) or vendor. A system that has no such end-user is a good candidate for elimination. It follows, therefore, that individual employees or a team should know precisely what that end-user wants (quality of product/service, turnaround or delivery time, etc.), in order to provide better service.

Identify which systems aren’t operating efficiently. In most businesses, certain processes consume the most time, money and employee effort. When these systems are dysfunctional, this consumption is far out of proportion to the return on investment. (This is especially true if the business owner or CEO is continually called upon to intervene and “repair” the situation.) Any such broken system is a good place to start the comprehensive systematising process.

Document high-end systems. Some attempts at systematisation get bogged down in the effort to document all systems within the company. Generally speaking, this isn’t necessary for low-level operations and automated functions. Instead, focus on thoroughly documenting your high-end systems (sales, employee recruiting, inventory management, etc.), so that everyone involved understands the most efficient way to achieve objectives in these areas.

You’ll find this particularly helpful when introducing new employees to the process. Detailed documentation removes the time-wasting component wherein people keep asking questions about process and procedure, instead of actually getting the work done. With documented procedures, the learning curve is much quicker.

Businesses that systematise their operations and eliminate “broken” ways of doing things are better positioned for growth than their less-organised competitors. And they’ll likely outperform in key areas such as product quality and consistent customer service.

Want more advice on systematizing your business or sales and marketing or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!