The concept of doing more with less is often suggested when thinking about increasing productivity but how do you actually apply the principle to your business?
The name of the game is time management. While moving faster can result in speedier production, it does not necessarily lead to greater efficiency in the long term as you may be cutting corners to maintain that speed.
In order to increase your productivity and efficiency you need to be able to take the same ten hours of delegated work-time each day and find ways to get more done in that time.
So, before you take some time to look inward and brainstorm where you can optimize, let’s start with a few tips.
1. Specialize Offerings
It’s a worn out comparison, but Henry Ford’s assembly line was not just an accident that he happened upon. It is a perfect example of using specialization to increase productivity. No single factory worker should build a car from start to finish, and not every business should try to compete with those around it by offering the exact same goods and services. It diminishes productivity and absorbs too much energy and time. If you know that your business rocks at making t-shirts and hats, but really struggles with pants and shoes, it might be wise to consider reducing your offerings to just t-shirts and hats. Chances are that your clientele are coming to your business time and again because of those exceptional services, and not because you offered just as many ancillary products or services as your competitor around the block.
2. Train and Empower
As a small business owner, you may naturally find yourself trying to control every aspect of the business in its infancy. As you grow, you’ll find that it gets to be too much for one person and that finding the time to even check your email can be lost in the shuffle. Whether you have one employee or twelve, taking the time to train and educate will pay huge dividends in the long run with people who run the business with the care and attention to detail as if it was their own. They are there to help you and help your business thrive, but you have to be willing to let them help.
3. Try 80/20 Exercises
Often referred to as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule is the idea that 80% of your activity results in 20% of your productivity. This can be molded and applied to a myriad of facets in life or business, and it can be a great reminder that being busy is not indicative of productivity. If you take a step back and evaluate how your time is spent in your day, you might be surprised to find that you’re spending the vast majority of your time only on a small portion of the business. Conversely, you may find that if you refine a few of your core important tasks, they only take up a small percentage of your time throughout the day but make a big impact. The key is to put your energy and time on the 80% of actions that only take up 20% of your time. Eliminate the high-effort, low-payoff activities and spend more of your time capitalizing on what you are already great at.
4. Customer Relationships
Customer relationships are key. Your most valuable business tool is the customer who walks in your door each and every day. Often forgotten things like remembering names, or favorite items may not seem crucial to you, but to your customer it may mean the world. That smile that they leave your business with can lead to recommendations and positive word of mouth to their friends and family. Maybe remembering names isn’t your thing. Consider utilizing a customer relationship management tool to keep the details organized and easily accessible. Time-consuming tasks like sending individual emails can also be automated in these tools so that you can send a thank-you email after they make a purchase and add an extra personal touch to your service.
5. Manage Your Time with Tech
While things like scrolling social media and mindlessly checking emails are good examples of how technology can stunt your productivity, there are a seemingly endless amount of productivity focused apps, software and tools out there to help manage your time so that you can be more productive. Taking the time to set up email management tools, calendar reminders to keep you on track, or using a password storage app can allow you to take back your day and manage your time rather than it managing you.
Increasing productivity is not something that happens overnight, and it definitely requires extra work and reflection. A guiding principle is to do more now, so you can do less later. You need to understand your time and how you use it, so that you can effectively manage your time like a basketball coach. Take time to observe your daily routine from 30,000 feet and find those time-consuming tasks that can be streamlined. Everyone can be more productive, we just have to pick a starting point.