Streamline Your Small Business

Being a small business owner is synonymous with being a workaholic. Each morning I grab my hot cup of coffee and dive in, often only getting up to workout and have dinner. Yes, when you love what you do it often doesn’t seem like “work” but I have learned how to work “smarter” and not “harder.”

Not every day needs to be a 12-hour workday. With the right tools and services implemented, you can actually enjoy your evenings (or better yet your life!)

Efficiency can be gained in a variety of places, but as you well know, running a business is complicated and it may be overwhelming just to figure out where to start. Streamlining your small business will keep you from burning the candle at both ends. Evaluate the impact that each of the areas that need improvement will have on the bottom line, your customers, those that you may be working with (i.e. business partners, suppliers and employees) and of course you!

Where to start? Streamline these 5 areas of your business first.

Manage Tasks Effectively

As a small business owner, you may experience the never-ending-to-do list that keeps you working at all hours of the day and night. So it goes without saying that effective task and time management is a critical component to a streamlined business. With planners, highlighted calendars, phone reminders and to-do lists galore we are all over the place trying to get organized!

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing more satisfying than making a to-do list and crossing off each item as they are accomplished, but what if you could manage your daily tasks in one place?

Implementing a free software program such as Producteev will sync with your Google Calendar and allows access to various platforms and allows for multiple workspaces for employees. This is extremely beneficial because not only will you be able to see tasks in order of importance but can delegate in less time and be updated instantaneously with project management. As my great friend and CEO of Women Network, Michelle Patterson says, “Choose 3 things that need to get done and focus on those.”

Avoid Interruptions

Most questions, comments and concerns are generally directed to you from customers or deflected to you by employees. To keep from getting stuck in the time trap of constant interruptions, recognize that not ALL decisions and questions need an immediate response. It is OK to put up an auto-responder on your email for the afternoon or screen your phone calls. This allows both the customer and employees to see that you are currently working on something else and cannot be interrupted. By limiting interruptions you will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.

*A great tip is to set a timer for certain tasks and avoid all interruptions until the timer is up.

Standardize Business Processes

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you have already implemented successful business operations that are working for you and your business, then why change it? They key is to stay consistent and standardize your processes.Anything from file formats to emailing clients and customers. In the long run this will save you time training and retraining and employees and everything should be much easier to keep organized.

Organize Inventory and Keep Accurate Records

So you think you are organized? Let me guess, if you are a consumer based business owner, you are probably using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your inventory stock and sell through. Well I am here to tell you this is a thing of the past and there are multiple reasons why. It is inaccurate and will cost YOU time, money and stress. Instead try one of the many inexpensive automated inventory control system. This will allow you more time to do things that are even more important than tracking down an order that didn’t get logged in Excel.

Leverage your Business

Ultimately growing your small business would be the end goal, but you must first be able to maximize current output. Often, owners concentrate on growing their business first to make more, but then miss out on leveraging their business by being efficient. What it comes down to is outdated software and ineffective business methods will keep you from where you could be.

Starting, running and becoming a successful business is not easy, but by being proactive to streamline your operations you improve information flow, productivity and accuracy. And hey, maybe even have a little more free time for yourself!

Green Business Operation

In today’s modern world, almost everyone knows what “living green” means. This can involve buying organic or biodegradable products, having energy efficient light bulbs, or supporting organizations that are eco-friendly. For many small and large business owners, taking this route has gained them support and a loyal customer base. Converting a business into an operation that is environmentally conscious can be a trying, but valuable process.

Before starting to switch to more eco-friendly business procedures, businesses first need to see how their industry influences the environment. Monitoring and reporting areas such as greenhouse gas emissions and energy use can identify the most wasteful sections. While reporting to The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, The National Pollutant Inventory, and Energy Efficient Opportunities may be mandatory for larger businesses, smaller companies may not be required to do so. However, they are allowed to opt in for certain environmental reporting.

Obviously, starting at the very beginning involves small items, such as switching to different light bulbs. However, where do you go from there? Business owners should consider creating an Environmental Management System (EMS), which would create a long-term plan involving objectives and targets, different operational procedures, understanding environmental impact, and continuing to improve on already established practices. A well-developed EMS could be eligible to be certified by the international standard ISO 14001. Usually, big corporations opt for this kind of certification. For small businesses, the benefit of an EMS plan may be less than the time and effort taken to develop one.

Business owners may choose to implement sustainable or renewable resources, switch to energy-efficient office equipment or vehicles, or begin a recycling routine. All of these practices can contribute to creating an environment that supports eco-friendly exercises, cuts down on the amount of waste generated, and saves businesses money in the long run.

Besides profiting from saving money and implementing more energy-efficient practices, there are many other business benefits to going green. Certain businesses may be eligible to receive grants from the government, gain publicity through environmental awards, introduce their products to new green markets, reduce chemical waste, and show your customers that you care about the environment.

There are many online resources available to individuals who want to research and learn more about environmental management. Information can come in the form of databases, tools, and helpful hints from the government, other businesses, or experienced people who are currently employing eco-friendly practices.

How Business Development Consultants Can Help New Businesses Succeed

It can be difficult to start a business, especially without professional help. Business development consultants can help new business owners with a variety of important tasks such as brand development and writing copy.

Business Plans

Every new enterprise needs a strong and realistic business plan. A good plan will help a business succeed, but it can be difficult to create a strong plan without the help of an expert. Development consultants can help new companies create a detailed, professional plan that establishes realistic goals, forms a proper mission statement, and decides what marketing methods to use.

Budget

A consultant can also create a budget for a business. All companies need a budget to make sure that they do not spend too much and put themselves in debt. A new business can’t afford to be in serious debt because they didn’t plan out how much they would spend for the year. Moreover, running a business is a difficult endeavor, and creating a budget can be a time-consuming, complex process. For instance, a company that makes baked goods will have to figure out how much flour, sugar, and other ingredients they will need and how much it will cost. Prices could increase over time, too.

They must calculate how much they will have to charge customers so they can get the money they need. A development consultant has the experience and skills to help businesses create a detailed budget. With a proper budget, these can avoid disasters.

Marketing

Marketing is an important way for any company to advertise their products and services. Marketing can also give businesses the exposure they need. There are many different marketing techniques to choose from, some more effective than others. New ventures that are trying to decide how to market their products and services can be overwhelmed by the many different techniques available. Furthermore, some of them might spend their entire marketing budget on one technique just to find out it wasn’t the best method for their business.

A business development consultant has the knowledge and experience necessary to find the best methods to use, and they can help companies market very effectively and stay within the allotted marketing budget.

Brand Creation

New enterprises need to create a memorable and appealing brand to increase their customer base. It can be difficult to design a unique and professional logo as well. Business consultants know what customers like, and they can guide companies to create a memorable brand. They’ll make a legible, attractive logo that a firm will be able to use for a long time.

Writing Articles

Most businesses will need to have articles written for anything from brochures to websites. Having professional articles shows clients capablity and ability to deal with them in a professional manner. Articles with several spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors can cause a company to lose many potential customers because these unprofessional pieces of writing will make customers believe the business is not trustworthy or capable. A development consultant can help these create professional articles and advertisements.

When starting an enterprise, a proper business plan and budget is needed, and a strong marketing strategy must be created. An appealing brand and professional articles are also necessary, and business development consultants can help start ups with all of this and more.