Simple Easy Ways To Improve Efficiency
Unlike large corporations, small businesses have to make the most of the limited resources and manpower that they possess. It takes determination and an entrepreneurial mindset to achieve more with less time, less money, and fewer employees, but the best way to get the most out of what you have are to be more productive.
In my recent experience of working with a small business client, they were faced with many obstacles which ultimately hurt the company’s proposal productivity. Management and employees were interested in improving their productivity around marketing, writing and administrative support but none of them were familiar with tools and processes to help them connect their desires to action. As a result, several employees missed deadlines and handed work in late, wasted time in meetings and basically began to put out really poor content.
After doing a thorough assessment of the organization, I knew we needed to help them find ways to increase their productivity. If you think about it, the success of a firm relies heavily on the efficiency of its business operations. Below are some tips and examples implemented to boost the client’s overall productivity.
- Prioritize Tasks with Productivity Tools
Nothing is worse than losing track of assigned tasks and duties or procrastinating on the work that you should be doing. There are tons of multi-platform productivity applications like Meistertask, Wunderlist, To-do and plenty more that help manages tasks for the team. These applications allow you to include crucial information like deadlines, reminders, and you can even assign it to the appropriate employee and track their progress. It makes keeping track of tasks super easy. Matt Egan and Christina Mercer from TechWorld.com wrote a complete list of tasks management apps for small business. If you are interested you should definitely check it out.
- Keep Meetings Short and Simple
Have you ever been in a meeting and thought it was a waste of time? Chances are you’re probably right. A lot of meetings don’t serve a specific purpose and no decisions end up being made. Not having a structure or direction for meetings could lead to counterproductive distractions and a waste of resources. So to keep meetings productive, here are a few tips to keep you on track:
Have an Agenda
Having an agenda of issues and ideas to address every meeting gives it a sense of direction and purpose. It helps keep meetings shorter and focused. Preferably sent out agenda’s ahead of time that way everyone has had an opportunity to get their thoughts together to keep things flowing. Not only that, but you won’t spend extra time having people contribute to the discussions that have not been identified or out of order.
Send a Meeting Follow-up Report
From personal experience, it’s a good idea to have someone taking notes during the meeting. After the meeting is done, they can put everything in a detailed action plan or report and send it to the members that were and were not present. A follow-up report basically outlines discussion points, key decisions, and each person’s actions. By keeping a running document of actions, it makes it easier for the team to know what they’re doing and when it needs to be done. It also helps avoid misunderstandings as everything important discussed during the meeting can be found in a running log or document.
- Simplify Internal Communication
Sending emails to team members can also be a big waste of time and resources. It takes longer to communicate to the right people and can often lead to miscommunications. Cut down on the useless emails by using professional instant messaging platforms like Slack to get the message across in a faster and easier way. Gone are the days of back and forth emails, long waits, and numerous follow-ups. Messaging platforms like Slack make internal communication efficient, transparent, and easy. And when all else fails, I find that there’s nothing a five-minute phone or face-to-face conversation can’t fix better than a five-day long email chain.
- Take Short Breaks
It feels great to be in the “work groove” and have tons of ideas flowing for a project. Unfortunately, that high doesn’t last long you or your employees might stretch themselves too thin. Having small 10-15 minute breaks in between helps keep them focused on their task by allowing their busy minds to rest and let their creative juices get flowing again. After taking a breather, they’ll feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead of them.
- Automate Business Processes
Technological advancement has come a long way, making tons of processes easier to automate. It allows you to streamline business operations and cut down on costs by letting the bots do the work for you. Much of the automation can be integrated into the company one way or another. You can send out thank-you surveys to customers with SurveyMonkey, create mailing lists and execute campaigns with MailChimp. You can even manage social media accounts through platforms like Hootsuite, scheduling posts in advance so that they don’t distract you from your day. Another option would be connecting all your web-based applications through Zapier, which easily transfers information from one app to another. There are also various ways to use Zapier when it comes to functions like sales, accounting, and marketing, as explained in this post here.
Time is the most valuable resource at a small business’ disposal so it’s important not to let it go to waste by incorporating of these productivity tips into your business operations. It’s the one resource we can never get back.
As you already saw, we love tools and efficiency! To further help you, we’ve put together a webinar where I’ll be going deeper on tools that can help you to streamline your proposal writing process. The webinar will be on October 12, 2017, and to those who participate, I’ll be giving out a toolkit with video resources and template that will save you some time and help you focus on perfecting your bid strategy.
You can reserve your spot here: http://bit.ly/ProposalWritingWebcast.