10 steps to make your small business more productive

Making sure your workers have the right equipment boosts productivity.

Making sure your workers have the right equipment boosts productivity.

By Henry Brown

Small business owners have to deal with a lot, but one thing they should prioritize is their productivity levels. When the business becomes more productive, all of the other issues start to take a back seat. Take making money as an example. Unproductive businesses don’t make as much money because they waste a lot of time and energy. As such, they find it harder to stay afloat within the first couple of years. Productive businesses don’t have that problem because they are operating at their fullest.

Still, running a productive business isn’t a piece of cake. If it were, every business on the planet would be a success, which isn’t the case. But, don’t let that put you off because it is possible as long as you follow the right steps. With the help of these 10 guidelines, you can take one step closer to realizing your dream and becoming a successful firm.

• Go wireless. Business owners don’t have to sit behind a desk and work from the office any longer. It is perfectly viable for you and your employees to work from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is make that possible by going wireless. A wireless business means that its staff can access information from the cloud at a moment’s notice. As long as they have an Internet connection, they can work whether they are in or out of the office. The result for the business is that employees can get through more work and waste less time. Whereas a business meeting was once an excuse to have a day off, it no longer exists.

• Give employees access to information. The first tip only works if your staff has access to the files they need to do their job. It might sound obvious, but it is amazing how many businesses encrypt files for security purposes. While doing this, they block out the people that need the data to work. Although it is a security feature, it is important that you don’t hinder your employees. The best option is to come to a compromise. Block all the files that you think are too important to leave open. However, always have someone on standby in case an employee needs to access the file. A simple code or password is enough to give them all the information they need to do their job.

• From anywhere. It goes without saying, but they need to be able to access information from anywhere. This tip intertwines with the first one to a large degree because both require a wireless platform. Have you ever wondered why so many businesses use the Cloud? If you haven’t, you are missing out on one of the biggest pieces of technology available to small businesses. In basic terms, the cloud is a portable storage device that holds a plethora of information. The great thing about it is that anyone with access can use it regardless of their location. As the boss, it is your job to ensure that all the necessary files are uploaded to the cloud. Any that aren’t uploaded aren’t available, and that negates the fluidity of working from anywhere in the world.

• Invest in the right technology. Technology is expensive, which is why it is a good idea to research it before you make a purchase. Lots of small businesses get into the habit of buying software to look good. The fact is that it is a waste of money if it doesn’t positively affect the company. And, any waste isn’t a sign of productivity. As a result, only the right technology is the right option. You already know about the cloud, and it is a generic device that suits almost every business. But, for the most part, you will have to tailor your choices to your business. A shipping company, for example, needs software that tracks parcels and containers. Then, they can relay the information to their customers. The other thing about technology is that it cuts labor costs. No one wants to fire an employee, but it is necessary if you are spending too much on wages. A good piece of software will do the job of two to three members of staff.

• And the right equipment. A business can’t perform without the proper equipment. It is a cliché, but it is very true. Good equipment is what makes a business productive and efficient. If you use outdated or ineffective tools, it will reflect in the product. Also, think about the effect it will have on your employees. They are the ones who have to put up with substandard tools, and it is they who have to deal with the consequences. Not only is that unfair, but it is also dangerous. Employees can rebel or perform to a low quality and blame it on the equipment. Obviously, that isn’t what any business wants, especially an SME. Apart from maintaining the equipment, you also have to buy the equipment that suits your needs. A manufacturing company, for instance, will need EZ Cut CNC Plasma tables and heavy machinery. A catering company, on the other hand, will need cleaning equipment and cooking utensils. Think about what you want to achieve and buy the tools accordingly.

• Delegate authority. Small businesses often suffer from a lack of flexibility. As you are the boss, you want to control every aspect of the firm. It is easy to see why: it is your livelihood. However, it is holding you back. When employees need to make a quick decision, they can’t because they need your permission. Instead of a fluid and efficient workplace, the office becomes stale and unproductive. The red tape means that everyone has to stop and start again, which adds time to business tasks. By simply allowing them to make the decision alone, you can remove the red tape. Obviously, you don’t want to let them make decisions that affect the business as a whole. There are people you pay to make those decisions. But, small choices that don’t have a wide-ranging effect are fine. Not only will it help the firm, but it is will also empower your staff. And, guess what – empowerment makes them more productive.

Provide frequent breaks. There is a myth that you need to work as hard as possible for as long as possible to be successful. Not only is it stupid, it is also unproductive. In fact, the key is to work for short periods at a much higher level of consistency. That way, no one gets bored and loses focus. This is where breaks come into play because, as the name suggests, they break up the day. They are the time when your workforce can get away from the desk and forget about their work. When they come back, they are refreshed and ready to work to the same level. Hopefully, the result is that the entire business hits its deadlines on time. Don’t go overboard and offer them a break every fifteen minutes. But, three to four in a day is a good idea. Plus, it is a legal requirement in most countries.

Use customer critiques. What is the point of asking a customer for their opinion if you are just going to dismiss it if it is negative? The answer is that there is no point because you are sticking your head in the mud. A productive firm always tries to make their brand more appealing to the public, and they need to address their faults to do so. There is always something that could be better, and your customers will be kind enough to tell you what it is. Not only are they trustworthy, but they are also unbiased. They have nothing to gain from critiquing your business, and that makes them the perfect foil.

• Satisfy your customer base. Another reason you need to use customer critiques to your advantage is to keep them happy. The best way to be productive is to sell as many goods and services as possible. That sort of productivity is going to get you very far in the industry. However, that is impossible to achieve if you don’t have the demand from your customer base. Yes, your products are important, but so are their needs. If you can fulfill their needs, they will shop with you over and over again. Another way to learn more about them is to talk to them via social media. Social media is brilliant for conversing with customers and asking them about their preferences. Once you have the information, you can easily implement it into your business strategy.

• Work together. Your firm might have a few different areas that work separately, which is fine. But, at the same time, they need to work as a team. When one section needs information, the other should be able to find it for them and vice versa. This tactic is perfect for businesses that want to be fluid. It doesn’t matter what is happening because there is always someone with a solution.

When it comes to productivity, it doesn’t get much better.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London; uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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