When we set up businesses with the intention of having smooth and efficient ways of working, it can be quite frustrating when you begin to notice things have got a little out of control and are not operating at maximum efficiency.

Well, fear not, you’re not alone and its worth remembering that this also a good sign that your business is clearly growing and perhaps outgrowing your initial processes and ways of working, which can only be good thing.

Thankfully, there is hope and with a few adjustments you can being to operate your small businesses more efficiently for now and in the future, which should improve your overall business success and of course improve your own health and wellbeing in the process.

Before you jump into action, your first step will be to reflect on your current situation, pausing and taking a wider view – stepping away from the detail to look at the bigger picture. What do you see? What are the glaring problems you’re experiencing on a day to day basis?

Try this approach after reading the following areas and then review these areas from this bigger picture perspective, assessing where you are and what changes you need to make to achieve maximum efficiency.

IT resources

Having effective technology and systems and software which are fit for purpose is an essential element to achieving maximum efficiency within your small business.

For example, ensuring a reliable always on internet connection is essential to avoid downtime or connection problems which can easily slow down output.

Once you’ve reviewed your processes, if you’ve found that you’re using five excel spreadsheets and duplicating information to achieve one task, it may be time to consider upgrading your IT systems and looking at software which better suits your current and future requirements. It’s important to plan any IT upgrades with future possibilities in mind.

The best way to do this, when you’re not sure what your future needs are, is to purchase software which can easily be adapted – for example bespoke software rather than off the shelf packages.

Support staff

If you’re businesses has significantly grown since you began, the first question really needs to be, do you have enough resource, and do you have the right resource in place?

Is it really an assistant you need to help you to deliver your projects outcomes or would it be more efficient to give this whole piece of work to an experienced project manager. You may think this is the more expensive option but it’s worth exploring both options to see which will achieve the best results and free up your time, so you can effectively drive your business forward.

Furthermore, to allow for future proofing, i.e. future growth resource requirements, consider employing individuals on short term contracts to ensure you don’t end up in a position where you have many part time roles which are overlapping down the road.

Communication

Clear and effective communication is at the heart of business efficiency and this comes in many forms and guises. For example, email overload in businesses can be a common problem and can be a experienced particularly for businesses where staff are operating remotely or virtually.

One of the reasons internal emails can become excessive is due to ineffective or lack of effective communication. To avoid this becoming problematic, it can be wise to set weekly briefing meetings where you can discuss and plan for the week ahead, covering any queries as you go. Additionally, setting up specific processes for how to manage emails will also do wonders for reducing this drain on available resources.

Processes

Processes are necessary, yet all too often the volume of steps and duplication within them can be a real drain on your limited resources. Reviewing your current process could be the free up huge amounts of time which can be used elsewhere.

To assess your current processes, list each one and break them down into individual steps. Then review each step and establish if there is any duplication and to define if each step is absolutely to achieve the intended outcome.

The key is to reduce the steps within the process, so the bits between the input and the outcome. Focus on reducing the volume of individuals involved, reduce margin for error, reduce or ideally avoid duplication of information, whilst still achieving the same output.

Time management

How you and your staff organise their time, will have a direct impact on your business reaching maximum efficiency. The first thing to do is set the example – if you’re on top of your workload that may be enough to inspire others to do so…

However, a word of warning – forcing your staff to work in a way that you alone find effective is unlikely to achieve positive results. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean it works for others. The best approach if you feel a particular staff member isn’t as organised as you’d like, is to spend time together to work out the route of the problems and access what they feel they could do differently to achieve improved time management.

Moreover, in terms of your own time management, learning how to delegate effectively could be your ultimate saviour!