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4 Keys to Increasing Productivity and Working More Efficiently With the right system, mindset, and tools, small businesses can improve operations and set themselves up for success.
The past year has redefined how companies and employees alike have had to approach the working day. With countless changes in both the workplace environment and overall business strategy, it's important for entrepreneurs to focus on creating a plan for employees to safely move forward without sacrificing productivity and efficiency.
No one knows this better than the team at Dallas-based Thryv, a small-business management platform that automates tasks via digital workflows. Here, Ryan Cantor, Thryv's VP of Product and Marketing, shares his four best tips for encouraging a more productive and efficient workplace.
1. Focus on building a structured system.
Efficiency only happens through a system. Otherwise, companies run the risk of wasting time or prioritizing tasks out of order, Cantor explains. To avoid issues like double-booking, Zoom fatigue, or competing deadlines, he suggests that team leads offer a shared or synched calendar to maintain full visibility of team member schedules and promote a productive working structure. With a shared calendar, employees can also assess, plan, strategize, and manage their time efficiently.
"I always tell my own employees that they need to respect the calendar—whether that's blocking off time to focus on tasks or spreading out meetings to avoid burnout, there needs to be time strictly to oneself to remain productive," Cantor says.
2. Narrow down areas where tasks can be automated.
"What I always encourage people to do is to focus on the areas in which you find yourself repeating the same process 10 times a day," Cantor says. "Once you can recognize those points, it's time to introduce automation."
Cantor believes that automating email cadences or utilizing a centralized dashboard to pre-schedule social media posts are simple ways to implement automation. With Thryv's marketing automation tools, businesses can easily trigger templated or customizable marketing campaigns in just a few clicks. All they must do is set the schedule and Thryv manages the rest.
If businesses can automate certain tasks, employees can be freed up to work on other projects without the burden of needless repetition. "But you should not rush to automation," Cantor warns. "If you truly haven't established your workflows or repeatable processes, it can actually burn into the valuable time that automation should buy you. Once you automate a moving target, you run into configuration and regression issues, so it's incredibly important that companies audit potentially automated tasks."
3. Identify where you can consolidate applications or technologies to streamline operations.
Businesses should explore where they cut down on the time spent switching between several different apps to complete a workflow. "There has been an emergence in, what I like to call, prosumer apps," Cantor says. These apps can help businesses by offering several essential work tools in a singular platform, or by housing integrations with other applications, all in one place.
"Specifically in the small-business segments, companies should be able to access a centralized system where their apps, calendars, and contact lists are all in one location, to know exactly where they stand and where employees can streamline operations and communications more efficiently," Cantor says. With Thryv, businesses can choose from a variety of targeted solutions to complement their specific technological needs. And since Thryv integrates with popular apps, such as Zoom, QuickBooks, or Mailchimp, users can import or access the information from those technologies directly in the Thryv platform.
4. Remain future-focused.
When looking at operations and processes, it's important for companies to ask themselves, "will these same efforts be sustainable five years from now?" Cantor believes that businesses often find themselves in survival mode, operating on overworked and undervalued employees.
To improve efficiency and productivity, Cantor asserts that companies must consider whether their current model of work is scalable. If organizations are unable to eventually scale operations, employees can become buried under the amount of work that is required, leading to reduced efficiency and even employee churn. Scaling can mean hiring more employees, adding a new location, or even building out their set of services, therefore businesses should explore the avenues that can set them up for current and future successes.
"If business owners fall into the mindset of, "we can fix this model or workflow next year,' I can tell you that it will be far more difficult to optimize next year rather than right now," Cantor says. "With a future-focused outlook, companies can avoid working with broken processes and systems and avoid building poor working behaviors for current employees."
Click here to learn more about how Thryv can help your small business be more productive and run more efficiently.