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!


Use Technology to Enhance Your Employee Communications Efforts

Technology and communication

If improving communications with your employees was on your 2018 list of resolutions, there are many ways to leverage digital technology to achieve this goal. Businesses that still rely on a “suggestion box” in the break room or some similarly out-of-date mechanism should consider adopting current technology to make employees feel more involved and part of the team.

An array of Digital Resources

The good news is, your employees are already using the types of digital resources you can employ in your efforts to improve communications. These resources include:

  • Texting
  • Chat rooms
  • Video
  • Social media

Instant messaging is so prevalently used by people (from front-line employees to senior executives) that it should be considered a “go-to” method for communicating important and timely information to your team. It’s also a useful tool for staying in touch with your remote workers.

Cloud-based mobile technology facilitates a deeper sense of engagement among employees. Using communications tools in this area usually includes the benefits of enhanced data security. Also, cloud-based technology can be easily upgraded as new digital improvements become available.

Video platforms represent a particularly appealing way of improving communications. When you, as CEO or business owner, want to relay a message to the entire company, what better way than through video, where people can see and hear you simultaneously? No other mode offers the same kind of “face-to-face” authenticity – especially beneficial if you’re comfortable in front of a camera and know how to express yourself in terms your employees will best understand.

Getting Employees on Board

To make this approach work, it’s critically important to design a comprehensive plan that introduces and familiarizes employees with the communications technology you deem best suited for your culture. According to ITProPortal, such a plan should include “training programmes, leadership workshops, counselling, best practices resources, templates, and customised advice and guidance.”

This may sound burdensome at first, but when employees “get” that you want to implement a streamlined system of communications – and that you genuinely care about interacting with them – you’re likely to see a marked improvement in morale and, possibly, long-term employee retention.

Employee Solutions to Business Problems

Equally valuable are opportunities for team members to communicate with each other. For example, those involved in a new initiative – or tasked with finding solutions to a pressing business problem – will greatly benefit from being able to bounce ideas off each other in real-time.

Remember, your employees are the ones most intimately involved in the sales and distribution of your products or services. Frequently, they’re also the ones who regularly interact with customers, so they have a deeper understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of your offerings. If they’re asked to devise a solution, the chance to collaborate quickly and clearly through internal communications tools may result in just the solution your business needs to move forward.

At the same time, this communications platform should involve supervisors or managers as well. Great employee ideas can wither and die without managerial input and/or advocacy.

As Fast Company notes, “It’s important that new concepts are not just discussed among peers.” Managers should “be involved and feel connected to those suggestions from the very beginning,” because their advocacy can help ensure that those at the top will “implement the best ideas.”

Businesses armed with effective internal communications are often more successful at attracting and recruiting the quality talent your company seeks as well. That’s another reason to examine your various communications options and put the best system in place, in order to keep your employees productive and able to share key ideas with one another.

Want to learn more about the technology and communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


How and Why You Should Be Marketing Your Company Culture

Teamwork.The success of your company relies on so much more than profits. There are certain immeasurable factors that may not immediately prove their ROI, but are essential for the longevity of your business. One such factor is company culture. Establishing company culture begins from the top down. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set a positive tone for your business and embody that culture every single time you walk in the door.

To better understand the importance of company culture, we interviewed three TAB executives and collected their thoughts about how and why it’s so important to establish a company culture and then translate that vision to your employees, customers, community, and prospective hires.

What is Company Culture?

According to Andrew Hartley, Director of The Alternative Board (Bradford West), “Company culture is intangible and complex. It’s difficult to pin down, because there’s no app or spreadsheet that can grasp your corporate culture.”

So how do they define it?

“Company culture is not just your personal values and the values of those around you at work,” says Hartley. “It’s how those values interact with the challenges and experience of your market, the values and pressures added by your customers and suppliers and other stakeholders. This highly complex mix is your company’s culture.”

TAB Member Casey Lakey, Owner / General Manager at Trainer’s Club adds, “Company culture is the translation of the business owner’s vision and values.” According to Lakey, this begins with every staff member but, is equally important for managers and even business partners.

“Your core values are manifested in how your people behave, this is your culture,” says The Alternative Board (North San Antonio & TX Hill Country) President Don Maranca. “Core values mean nothing unless your culture or behaviour is consistent with them.”

Why is company culture so important?

Hartley ties company culture to your overarching business strategy. It can either be a “loud promoter” of your vision or a “silent killer.”

“When your culture and goals are not aligned, all of your efforts will feel like hard work and progress will become nearly impossible,” says Hartley. “When you get it right, everything flies and you exceed your own expectations. Effective company culture indirectly leads to results that everyone on your team and even in your business’s community will want to celebrate and be part of.

Maranca agrees that company culture impacts how you do business. “Company culture creates an expectation with your employees and customers.”

Why is it so important to translate your company culture to prospective customers? To prospective employees? To your local community?

To answer this question, Hartley quotes leadership author Simon Sinek, “Customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

“Your culture reflects who you really are and why you are there. If this fits with customers they will be your loyal followers and promoters,” says Hartley, “Without this connection, you are merely transacting and will have to work hard for every deal.”

Lakey adds that company culture increases your chances of building a referral marketing network, which is the most cost-effective way to spread word of your business. “If customers recognise and appreciate the culture of your company, they are more willing to return and share their experiences with other potential customers.”

According to Hartley, the same goes for employees, suppliers and the overarching community. Here, he cites The Leadership Challenge authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, “If you align at a cultural level, you will earn the extra 20% of ‘discretionary’ effort that makes the best, the best.”

Lakey agrees with Hartley’s sentiment. “Employees that follow a positive company culture are better employees because they understand their role and are more likely to promote the business when interacting with customers and potential hires.”

As for the local community, Lakey believes “A business becomes a part of its community when the community recognises the culture and values the company promotes.”

What are some effective ways of marketing your company culture?

“You (the leader) are the best way to market your company culture,” says Maranca. “Achieve this by clearly communicating your core values and living them out intentionally in every interaction related to your business.”

“Cultural alignment can be one of your biggest assets,” adds Hartley. “It should influence the style, choice of channels, branding and tone of voice of your communications. All marketing needs to respect the central value of your business.”

Lakey recommends creating a series of keywords that emphasise your business’s company culture and core values and using them across all internal and external communications. For example, Lakeys’ terminology generally revolves around their mission statement: “Our mission is to create a sense of community for our members, employees and business partners.”

Company culture may be intangible, but it’s definitely not inconsequential. Having a well-defined culture, that is translated from the top down, can streamline all of your business’s processes and interactions.

If all of the elements of your business model are in place, but something still seems to be lacking, you may want to take a moment to reflect on your company’s culture. Are your employees happy? Are your customers? Are you? Asking these simple questions can reveal a lot about your business. If you’re having trouble establishing a positive company culture, get in touch with a local TAB board and see how a team of peer advisors can help you take your business to the next level.



Recruiting Employees in the Digital Age

Curriculum Vitae Recruitment Candidate Job Position

As in so many areas of our lives, recruiting employees has largely gone digital. Although finding the perfect fit is key to your company’s success, the recruiting process can be expensive, time-consuming and—let’s face it—downright frustrating! That is why we asked our TAB members and business coaches for business tips to help create this edition of business tips from the top. Today, we are focusing on how businesses have evolved their recruiting practices to take advantage of the tools and services available to us.

It should come as no surprise that LinkedIn (as well as other social media channels) has become a great recruiting resource. The best way to get started is to post an update letting your network know that you are looking to fill a position. You may not directly know someone who would be a perfect fit in your network, but friends-of-friends are great resources to get started with. Also post to the jobs section of the LinkedIn groups you are a member of, allowing you to reach a larger audience.

The Advanced Search function on LinkedIn can be used to search for people within your network that come up using relevant keywords. For example, if you need to hire an accounts receivable specialist, type “accounts receivable” into the search field to find connections in your network that have “accounts receivable” in their profile. This takes a little bit of time and effort, but does not cost a dime and can be very effective.

The next level in recruiting activities includes posting a paid job post on sites such as LinkedIn,, or Most of these sites provide different posting package levels for you to choose from. When choosing a job post site, consider:

  • Job post reach: Some services, such as, have partnered with other websites and local online publications to provide their client job posts greater online reach. Research whether your job post will just be visible on the specific site, or if they have partnered with other websites to promote job posts.
  • Pricing structure vs. your budget: Job posts can become pricey, so taking your recruiting budget into consideration is a must. Pricing structures vary greatly., for example, uses a pay-per-click pricing model, while others will charge a flat fee per job post.
  • Pricing structure vs. your recruiting needs: Consider the number of positions you are looking to fill. Most job board websites will provide a discount for purchasing multiple job posts at once to be used within a pre-determined period of time, usually 12 months.

Pro Business Tip: Branding your business for employee recruitment can be every bit as important as branding for awareness and client acquisition. Think about how your company’s social media pages and website communicate company culture and work environment to potential recruits.

Stay tuned, because next we’ll talk about qualifying and interviewing candidates. But for now, TAB’s Tips from the Top series is all about sharing advice. It’s your turn to share your advice with us! What recruiting techniques and tools are you using to find and attract the right talent?