3 Surprisingly Inefficient Daily Business Practices

Imagine how much more would get done if everybody just understood what everybody is trying to communicate.

learn more about Bart Mroz

By Bart Mroz

Julief514 | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At SUMO Heavy, we hate inefficiency. We're a small dev shop with just under 20 employees so it's absolutely critical that we remove any inefficiencies to ensure lean and smooth operations to support our much larger clients. Many entrepreneurs will agree that there are plenty of pros and cons of being small and scrappy but one of the key benefits is being able to quickly identify and resolve inefficient business processes. It's part of what gives small businesses a competitive edge over the bigger players.

These three practices are some of the most common and inefficient in business today:

1. Unclear communication.

Do you get annoyed with the way people in the corporate world communicate? We sure do. Long-winded emails filled with buzzwords and industry speak make it nearly impossible to understand what people are trying to say. Worse even, I sometimes think that people have no idea what they're saying themselves. Because of this, we try to avoid email for our daily communications whenever we can.

There are so many great communication tools like Slack and Hipchat that there's no point to using email anymore. With these tools, you can communicate immediately within certain groups, track your communications, search your messages quickly, and more. But it's the nature of communication that's the real problem, and not the tool.

Related: Do These 8 Things Daily to Increase Your Efficiency 1000%!

Always be aware of what you're trying to accomplish in your communication. Are you communicating with the hopes of gaining knowledge about a task? If so, perhaps something like Basecamp will help you sort through your to-do list. Are you updating your internal team about a customer's status in the buying cycle? Then maybe your team needs to adopt a simple, zero-input CRM like ProsperWorks to keep your customer's actions in order.

As a company that telecommutes, we're able to efficiently communicate by choosing the right tools for the right job, but the key is that we always focus our communication on something distinct and real: a task, process, or update, for example. We don't have brainstorming sessions via email or chatter back and forth about half-baked ideas.

2. Bad breaks that don't rejuvenate.

Quantitatively, in terms of hours worked in the day, breaks don't make sense. But realistically, in terms of completing the most high-quality work, breaks do help. Our own experience tells us that, but so do studies. According to the Harvard Business Review, "studies show we have a limited capacity for concentrating over extended time periods," meaning that in order to be at peak concentration performance, we should take breaks. And although we may not realize it when we're burnt out, our work likely will suffer.

Related: How Knowing Yourself Leads to More Productivity and Efficiency

But it isn't helpful just to take any kind of breaks. Taking the wrong kind of break will drain you. Don't use your break time to send snapchats or catch up on daytime TV. Instead, find a way to take a rest from stimulation and let your brain relax. That said, some of our team members take breaks to hit the gym or go for a run. There's evidence to show that that taking breaks to perform physical activity will make you a more intelligent, productive worker.

3. Awful in-person meetings

Everyone knows that meetings are some of the most inefficient practices in business today. There are even whole TED talks devoted to the subject. I've had plenty of meetings in-person, and from this experience, I have realized that in-person meetings tend to be even worse that remote meetings.

There's the obvious waste of time that you spend traveling to in-person meetings, plus in-person meetings also tend to be more distracting and less focused. Remote meetings are better. A) because they are less distracting B) because sharing is built in and C) because they enable a level playing field.

I've been in dozens of in-person meetings where something the team leader says ignites a side conversation, which may or may not be productive. But in an in-person meeting this side conversation is distracting. In a remote meeting, users can chat in the side chatbox or message one another personally, so that they can come to insightful conclusions without dragging anyone else into the conversation.

Related: How This Manufacturer Used Data to Increase Efficiency and Cut Costs

I've also attended a handful of meetings where sharing became a drawn-out technical problem. Sharing is so easy in remote meetings. And then there are some in-person meetings that have a single leader who loves the sound of their and does not account for anyone else. With no "head of the table", real teamwork has fewer barriers in remote meetings.

At SUMO, our agendas feature only the issues we need to discuss, and we do not waste time "ideating". Once we complete a task, we remove it from our agendas. Meetings exist to receive updates, answer questions, and get on the same page, not to "collaborate" on work. We don't waste time trying to collaborate in meetings. That's like having too many cooks in the kitchen.

By understanding these inefficient business practices, you can begin working more efficiently and effectively -- and there is a difference between effective and efficient -- but that's for another time.

Bart Mroz

Co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy

Bart Mroz is the co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, a digital commerce consulting and strategy firm. He is a serial entrepreneur who has over a decade of business management and technology experience. Mroz was a founding partner of multiple consulting companies and a thought leader who has been published in top eCommerce publications including Internet Retailer and AdExchanger. Prior to founding SUMO Heavy, Mroz was a partner at round3 media, a creative e-commerce agency, as well as owner and managing director of SimplyHelp, an IT firm based in Philadelphia.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law
Business News

Amazon Is Starting to Let Customers Know What Products Are Returned Often

The e-commerce giant has begun flagging certain items that were frequently sent back.

Starting a Business

How To Sell on Etsy in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Want to start selling your handmade goods online? This article outlines how to start and grow your business using Etsy.


International Marketing: How To Maximize Your Global Reach

International marketing can be a massive project and intimidating at first. Read this article to explore the ins and outs of the process and learn how to take your brand global.


5 Insider Tips for Improving Your Confidence as a Public Speaker

Presenting publicly can be a nerve-wracking experience. Here are five key tips to help you boost your confidence.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.