Small business owners have a lot on their plates, especially when the whole world is at a standstill courtesy of something as scary as the novel coronavirus. How do they keep the business afloat? Where do they get customers now that people are out of work? These represent a few of the burning issues they must look into in 2020 and beyond.
Other than that, small business owners also have to worry about productivity. For businesses that are fortunate enough to be operational despite the devastation of COVID-19, productivity remains a critical factor. Because of this, it is imperative to learn as much about small business productivity as possible. This article provides the platform for doing just that!
The Guide to Small Business Productivity: 8 Top Tips
Writing Everything Down
Scientists identified dolphins as the animals with the longest memories. A dolphin is capable of remembering a friend last seen 20 years ago. However, humans are not like that. For this reason, it is important to develop the habit of writing everything down. These days, there are various ways of doing that.
For example, you could invest in a notebook and pen. Alternatively, you could write in your smartphone, tablet, or any mobile device. What is more interesting is that you can save everything you write in the cloud from where you can access it easily wherever you are. Other than that, technology provides access to multiple apps that you could download onto your phone to use for taking notes.
Has your business shown signs of struggling lately? If that is the case, you might want to start writing things down. For this reason, walk with a pen and paper everywhere you go. That’s because you never know when a life-changing idea might strike you. Many small business owners get inspiring thoughts when doing some of the most mundane activities.
For example, you could be walking from the car to your office or doing a bit of gardening work during your free time only for a million-dollar idea to hit you. Unless you have a powerfully impressive memory, you would need to write these ideas and thoughts down. That way, you increase your chances of applying the ideas and boosting small business productivity.
It is impossible to improve small business productivity without a well-crafted plan. A business owner with a reputation for forgetting meetings, bill payment dates, phone calls, and other important events would not stay in business for long. A smart strategy for boosting your productivity and that of your small business involves tons of planning. Here, the focus is on keeping a schedule.
For this reason, you should definitely invest in a planner. It costs almost nothing worth worrying about but opens the door for plenty of opportunities to enhance productivity. Furthermore, as you embrace this lifestyle, you would avoid all procrastination while ensuring that you restrict yourself to deadlines.
You must remember this; business owners who refuse to plan should be ready to see their businesses sinking and collapsing all around them. Planning has many components. It could be about planning your day, week, or month. It might also revolve around planning the next recruitment drive. Planning also involves preparing details for the next marketing campaign.
Essentially, all aspects of your small business need a planning touch. Things do not just happen; instead, you have to plan them into fruition. Have you noticed an increase in conflicts in your business? Plan to bring all the warring parties to the table to resolve their differences. In short, planning sets your business on the path to increased productivity.
Successful business owners have embraced the art of self-control. It is impossible to pursue small business productivity if you love indulging all your cravings. An excellent strategy to embrace here involves putting a limit on everything to avoid incurring unnecessary expenses. Mastering self-control carries a hint of eliminating distractions too.
All businesspeople face a ton of issues that seek to distract them from the most important goals. For example, as beneficial as the Internet is, it can also be quite distracting. Secondly, you have to avoid indulging your friends during work hours. Otherwise, productivity would remain a mirage. The most effective strategy to avoid distractions is to learn to manage your time efficiently.
Often, the difference between attaining your goals and differences – or not – is self-control. Essentially, this means possessing the fortitude to force yourself to do what you are supposed to do. Many business owners struggle to do the right thing; hence, struggle with productivity. Self-control could revolve around small seemingly insignificant events. Examples of this include showing up to work on time or meeting your deadlines and commitments.
Have you been struggling to attract amazing resources, opportunities, and contacts to your business? In such cases, you have to start by exercising self-control, which is like the key that opens more doors to be as productive as you desire.
It Takes a Team to be Productive
Business owners do not operate in isolation. Instead, they work with and rely on a team of personnel with wide-ranging skills. Therefore, it is important to understand that the pursuit of enhancing small business productivity would be impossible to attain without the team.
To do this, you would need to give each member of the team a goal. Let them all understand that the success of the whole team depends on the accomplishments of each member. Encourage each member to find and work with an accountability partner to ensure that everyone sticks to the goal.
As the owner, encourage each member of the team to check with you weekly. That way, you would not want to be the one seen to be slackening while everybody else picks up speed.
Storing Crucial Information Securely
Running a business, even if it’s a small one, involves dealing with tons of information. Some of the information is quite sensitive and crucial. In such instances, it is important to exercise caution when dealing with crucial information. How you store the information determines the level of small business productivity that you would enjoy. With a bit of carelessness in play, you would lose a significant amount of time looking for the information you need.
In some cases, you might need to start over again. Since time is of the essence, you have to learn to store critical information securely. Therefore, check your storage system. Test it repeatedly and do not shy off from improving it whenever the need arises. Examples of secure storage include:
- Using a lockbox
- Investing in password managers
- Investing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- Creating a strategy for data storage
- Installing effective protection against malware
- Ensuring that the wireless network remains secure and impregnable
- Disposing data properly
- Filing bills and all manner of expense reports immediately you receive them
Changing How You Work
How you work also affects the productivity of your small business. Because of this, it would be wise to change how you work. To confirm this, you should first examine how you approach or tackle issues capable of affecting your productivity. For example, some business owners spend too much time on small, unimportant work. At the end of such work, they are probably too exhausted to focus on the most crucial tasks.
In your case, a good solution might be to start with the most tedious tasks before moving on to the easier, simpler ones. Secondly, you would also be improving small business productivity by starting your tasks much earlier. Waiting until the last minute involves plenty of rush jobs that stain your productivity and reputation.
Work should never be a struggle for you, especially when running your small business. Sadly, it is the nature of life for the excitement and oomph to dissipate just when you need it. There are moments when inspiration that has always kept you excited to face each new day lets you down. At times, nothing seems to work even after you have taken the much-deserved break. For many entrepreneurs, such times create the urge to walk away.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. When you notice these changes, then you should know that it’s time to adjust how you work. A slight change in your approach could be all that you need to boost your productivity. Examples of the types of changes you could introduce at such moments include:
- Updating your technology
- Hiring more employees
- Fine-tuning the meeting schedule
- Improving your communication systems, strategies, and schedules
- Taking more breaks
Use Your Time Well
As you might have realized by now, time is one of the greatest tools in improving small business productivity. You would be well on your way to super-productivity the moment you learn to use your time well. Excellent business owners are highly effective at using their time. A lesson worth remembering is you have all the time in the world to accomplish all your tasks. You probably think you lack time because you focus on non-important stuff.
For example, you should continue with your work while waiting for an appointment. Have you spared 30 minutes for lunch? Squeeze in a bit of work or simply forego lunch until you finish the task. Additionally, why don’t you proceed with some light work while taking a cab to a meeting?
Examples of things you could do to use your time more effectively include:
- Setting and sticking to a schedule
- Avoid multitasking
- Delegate some duties
- Spare time for nothing other than rest and recovery
- Organize your workspace
- Identify and eliminate all time wasters as well as distractions
- Implement President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous quote that says, “What is important is rarely urgent. What is urgent is rarely important.”
- Practice the 80/20 rule, which shows that 80 percent of your results are from 20 percent of the efforts you put in
- Learn how to balance your time by focusing on all the important stuff rather than putting too much emphasis on one to the detriment of the rest
- Embrace automation and the kind of technology that simplifies your life
- Apply the Pomodoro Technique, especially if you have trouble structuring your time or focusing on any one task
Go on a Break
This might seem like a contradiction to the point listed immediately above (7). However, breaks are crucial. They are healthy and recuperative too. Breaks offer you a chance to take a bit of a breather and allow the mind to rest. One of the worst things you could do, as a business owner, is to overwork yourself.
An overworked person is likely to be less productive. Many business owners experience burnouts too, which is often a direct result of overworking. Burnout messes the quality of your work considerably as well. Therefore, you should watch out lest you lose all the good things you have done because of burnout. To avoid that, it would be prudent to take a break of a few minutes. Alternatively, go on a vacation or take a weekend getaway.
As indicated above, you would be susceptible to burnout if you ignore breaks. Burnouts lead to:
- Poor physical health
- Increased dissatisfaction with your work
- A massive drop in productivity
- Breakdown in communication
- Poor morale at the workplace
- Clinical depression
- Increased absenteeism
- Breakdown in communication
Our Final Thoughts on Small Business Productivity
Lastly, you have to remember that small business productivity is neither a mirage nor an unachievable goal. Instead, it is doable. Yes, with a bit of commitment to your small business you could amp productivity through the roof. Most interestingly, you do not have to focus on the huge changes. Instead, start with the small regular tasks that result into a change of mindset.
A new mindset gives you access to endless possibilities. The small wins that arise from a changed mindset create the atmosphere and culture that support the pursuit of improved productivity. Nevertheless, you have to remember that improving productivity in your small business is not a destination but rather a matter of a journey.