Small Business Efficiency Tips | OnDeck

6 Inside-the-Box Small Business Efficiency Tips

Efficiency is a buzz word all over the business. If you could master efficiency, you’ll be the most successful business owner that ever lived. Practically you, as a business owner, know that there is some truth to that. But how and where does efficiency matter for your business?

As much as I like to believe I know the solution to your conundrum of the day; I am merely married to an OCD business owner. He taught me that organization is the key to running the most efficient business possible, and that being organized about every aspect of your business (and life) gives you clarity. As an organized business owner, you can more accurately predict how things may go wrong and develop the ammunition you need to deal with it. More importantly, it gives you the potential to spot growth opportunities and ready your business for the increase in demand.

My husband owns a local boutique music school, (for our loyal readers, now you know) and he is keenly aware of the numbers that impact his business. For example, he knows the number of lessons scheduled each week, so he can accurately determine his need to hire a new teacher for a particular instrument to meet the demand. He also runs reports regularly to know which teach or instrument may not be performing as well as expected and can deal with the situation before it causes him to lose business.

I guess by now, you’re wondering when I’m going to tell you the secrets how to be more organized and how to run your business more efficiently. The answer is now! These tips are not “do it once and forget about it” tips, these are about incorporating them into your daily business life (and maybe even your home life as well…I won’t push it.)

I’ve split up this list into physical things you can do to be more organized and strategic actions you can take to increase your efficiency. I am not a naturally tidy and orderly person myself, so I understand this struggle on a very personal level. These are the few things I’ve committed to doing, and they help me get from every day, week, month, and year with more to gain than before.

Physical Organization

1. Clear Your Workspace:

Having a tidy workspace is the first step to running your business more efficiently. I know you know this, but it’s not as easy as it sounds to keep a neat office and desk. A neat workspace allows you to concentrate more easily because you are less distracted by the items around you, and you can find the things you are looking for faster. This organization checklist is the best I’ve ever come across. It shows you how to tidy your space and how to maintain it (because let’s face it, maintenance is the hardest part).

2. Make a To-Do List Every Evening:

This is pretty basic, but it’s a task that at the end of every workday is really the last thing you want to do before you go home. Making a to-do list is a great way to wind down the day. You give yourself the opportunity to take stock of what you did, what items on your list you can cross off, which can be prioritized and it gives you the chance to add everything new put on your plate in the last 8+ hours. If I were to compare creating your to-do list to exercising, think of it is as stretching at the end of a workout. Stretching at the end of your workout is effective because it gives your muscles a chance to cool down slowly and prepares your body for what you have to do next. A to-do list is a useful tool to wind down your workday and to make the next day more efficient.

3. Put Everything You Do in Your Calendar:

My husband and I are both obsessive calendarers. (I know that’s not a word.) Choose your poison your phone calendar or a paper calendar on your desk. I prefer the former, and my husband prefers a combination. As a business owner, the combination of the two is an excellent choice. You may ask yourself how is doing double work more efficient? Remember taking notes in high school? This is kind of like that; writing something down, forming the actual letters, helps your brain remember things easier than typing them out. Plus having it written out in front of you means that every time you look up you see what important things you need to do. The calendar attached to your email, or on your phone allows you to set digital notifications. How many times have you missed a phone call because you weren’t sitting at your desk? I’m assuming as a business owner the answer is more than you would like to admit. Doubling your efforts will you on track to go about your day without missing anything.

Strategic Efficiency

1. Set Aside Time to Go Over Your Financials:

For the majority of our readers, you may have a bookkeeper or an accountant to manage all mundane and detailed financial entries. It’s up to you as the business owner to get regular reports and know what they mean. If you’re doing everything yourself, this should not be hard, since you know every dollar in and every dollar out. (And good for you!) As the owner of a small business, numbers are going to be the most important clue for you to know how your business is doing. We’ve talked in the past about having the goal of maintaining a 2:1 assets to liabilities ratio, but to make sure that you have at least 1:1 ratio to keep your business in the black and moving toward growth.

2. Talk with Your Employees Regularly:

The best way to help you run your business most efficiently is the trust your employees. It’s hard to trust people you don’t know. Take the time to get lunch in small groups with your employees and include the people who don’t directly report to you. Even if it’s once or twice a year, this will show your employees that you’re interested in them as people, not only as a tool to help you make more money. Employees who want to come to work and like the person they work for will go out of their way to make sure that your business is running a smoothly as possible.

3. Reevaluate Your Strategy Regularly:

I know, I know, this one is a biggie, but how can you truly run your business efficiently without taking a look back and reevaluating your successes, failures, and the “can do betters.”  As a business owner you’ll always focus on what’s next and how you can grow your business, but how can you most effectively plan for the future, without intimately understanding what goals you reached and which you still need to improve, or on which activities you need to stop wasting your time and resources.

Every business is different; different size, different local nuances, and different risk tolerances, but these are a few relatively easy to incorporate into your business routine. It’s daunting to take on many new activities all at once, so my advice is to start small. Pick one thing from this list that you can do better and master it. Only then, take on the second task and then the third and so on. Even if all you do is commit to keeping your office cleared from clutter, you’ll see a big difference in your ability to get work done… and isn’t that what this article is all about?