3 Key Steps to Make Your Business More Efficient and More Profitable
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The Covid-19 pandemic has arguably imposed more challenges to the way companies have done business than any other single event in living memory, if not longer. Whilst the external pressures on a business have increased, many enterprises are still handicapping themselves by not building-in even the most basic system efficiencies. By effectively managing and prioritizing your business’ inputs, most particularly the labor-hours of you and your senior team, you can release greater outputs and ultimately revenue.
Here are three key principles for optimising efficiency, to release your business from self-imposed constraints, in 2021.
1. You are not a manager, you are a leader
Leadership and Management are both the same, right? Wrong, couldn’t be more wrong – stop it! Warren Bennis, Professor of Business Administration and an Organisational Consultant is quoted as an opening: “The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it”
Even this simple change of mindset will release you from one of the most pervasive inefficiencies in business. If you see yourself as a manager you are strategically no better than a caretaker, taking what you have and merely preserving it. Entrepreneurship rests on the foundation of leadership: identifying a business's strengths and weaknesses, implementing positive change whilst taking others on the journey with you. Use the ‘Plan’ ‘Do’ ‘See’ ‘Act’ system. Develop an efficientcy idea, trial it, review and then roll it out for system-wide effectiveness
True leadership has a compounding effect on efficiency. If you identify yourself as a leader you will improve your business through efficiencies. If you teach your team that they are leaders too, then they will identify efficiencies upon efficiencies at every level in your business.
2. Get lean
Taiichi Ohno, founder of the Toyota Production System which gave rise to ‘Lean’ working said when asked about Lean thinking: “All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the timeline by reducing the non-value adding wastes”
The key question here is ‘What are the things you are doing that people won’t pay for, and why are you still doing them?’. (1) Identify what your client wants, (2) identify what workflows are required to bring about the client’s goals and (3) automate the ‘system pull’ so that (1) naturally flows, without bottlenecks, from (2). Waste can arise from a range of sources including over-processing, unnecessary motion of goods and staff, and simple erroneous thinking within system design. Cut it out, because no one is paying you for it, but be careful not to inadvertently devalue your brand by dehumanizing your process
3. Invest in real business efficiency review
Kevin Zhang, the eCommerce entrepreneur behind HEMPX clothing brand and the Branded Niche eCommerce (‘BNE’) approach, has a unique way to ensure business efficiency is at the heart of his business. Every month, Kevin spends one-week logging everything that he did that week, hour by hour, and then closely examines any inefficiencies. Kevin looks at his schedule and determines which activities are high value-add and which can be automated through hiring new talent
The difference between a successful start-up and a scaled-up business is the development of systems to build growth on the foundation of a verified concept. The University of Oxford identifies scalable infrastructure as one of the three key requirements for a business to move to the next level, alongside strong leadership and appropriate marketing. This includes IT systems and production or manufacturing systems, as well as office space and workforce arrangements. If a business owner is spending all of their time in the weeds of their business rather than constantly thinking about growth, then, of course, their business is not going to grow.
A focus and commitment to removing inefficiency is like removing shackles from a business’s potential. It requires courageous leadership, and ability to identify what your client needs and supply that in the most streamlined fashion, and a willingness to stop and take stock to ensure you are using your time effectively to guide your business in the right direction.