When you run a small business, it’s easy to think you need to wear all the hats.
However, that’s not always the best way to build a profitable, scalable, sustainable business. There’s a point where “paying your dues” becomes “overstretched and overworked”. To really do your best work, you can’t spend every waking hour with your nose to the grindstone. Downtime is a very necessary ingredient for showing up and delivering the best for every single one of your clients, day after day.
But how can you take that time away when everything still needs to get done? How can you tick every box, dot every “i” and continue to delight your customers?
By working on your business’s productivity, that’s how. By looking at how your team operates and tightening up those gaps. By maximising efficiency and cutting out time-wasters.
And that’s really not as tricky as it sounds…
Throw out all the to do lists
Maintaining daily and weekly to do lists is not the most effective way for you and your employees to manage your workloads. The simple truth is that people always think they can fit more into their days that they actually can – and that leads to everyone feeling harrassed and under pressure when they don’t hit those self-imposed milestones.
Instead of dumping all of those tasks into a list, try booking them directly into your calendar. This pushes you to estimate how long you will need to set aside for each job, so you’re left with a much more realistic daily plan.
Whip out SOP’s for everything
SOP’s, or Standard Operating Procedures, are your way of making sure every single element of every single project is delivered in a consistent company way. Plus, having all of those workflows laid out in black and white removes the need for so many internal meetings. Your team members will have a clear reference point for each of their tasks, making it much easier for them to get on with their work alone.
Power down communications
Emails and phone calls can be the enemies of productivity, so be really proactive about the way you manage both.
Try switching off your emails for extended periods of time so that you can really focus on the task at hand without any inbox pings interrupting you. Set aside 2 or 3 blocks of time each day where you can go in and deal with your emails all at once – you won’t miss any important communications but you will increase the effectiveness of your working hours.
The same goes with phone calls. Try to manage the time you spend on the phone. One really simple way to do this is to rely on a call answering service such as Verbatim to filter your incoming calls. One option we offer, which really helps on the productivity front, is to deliver all of your messages at a specified time each day, so that you can return those calls efficiently, without interrupting your core project delivery time.
Track time spent… team-wide
Chances are, you already have a system for tracking the time spent on billable projects. However, if you really want to see a company-wide increase in productivity, try tracking all of those internal tasks too.
You might be surprised by how many members of the team are losing time actioning tasks that could be delivered more efficiently by someone else. For example, is a member of your technical team spending too much time on tasks that could be handled by your admin assistant? Are you attending regular meetings that could be run by a less senior member of staff?
Look at an overview of how each person in the business is spending their time, and think hard about whether this is the most efficient way to operate.
Reallocate and outsource
After the team-wide time tracking you will probably notice a few areas that could be tightened.
This might be a matter of redistributing tasks to a different member of the team, or investing in a piece of software that will help things run more productively. You may also notice that you just need some more support – if that’s the case, look closely at the different tasks that you could outsource.
Perhaps you could do with hiring a full-time accounting expert to deal with the company finance, or a freelance HR consultant to support in that area. You may not even need a physical addition to the team at all…
We’ve found that one of the biggest improvements that can be made to company’s productivity is investing in a service to handle incoming communications. High-quality phone answering services can take care of your clients, colleagues and prospects alike, while qualifying leads, taking booking or orders, and supporting your dreams of working smart every single day.
For more on how a service like Verbatim can boost your productivity (and increase your bottom line), read this.