“It’s all about doing things right.”
What is a productive business? Well, entrepreneurs from all walks of life would probably give a variety of definitions, but I think everyone agrees, at least, that a productive business is one that works all day long. As long as you are rolling along like a well-oiled machine, then you can probably consider yourself to be productive. To achieve that level of efficiency, however, is easier said than done and takes some thoughtful attention and organization. Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully pull your wheels unstuck from the mud and get your business running like a Swiss watch.
1. Keep Immaculate Records
Keep your books clean and up to date. There are many reasons why excellent record-keeping is important, but one of the foremost is simply that it will save you time and frustration. Think about how stressful it is to forage around the entire office for one file, only to find that it was buried under a pile of receipts on some catch-all shelf. That should never happen, and it is easily avoidable by making sure there is a designated place for everything. Whether you have a stack of filing cabinets, or a database on your computer—and it is a good idea to keep copies of everything—you will thank yourself for keeping good records.
2. Don’t Put It Off for Another Day
We all do it, and some of us are professional procrastinators. This can really hold you back, though, which is why it is crucial to take care of tasks in a timely way and deal with issues as they come (to the best of your ability). It is natural to procrastinate because let’s face it, daily tasks and constant pressures pile up pretty fast. Nevertheless, when “tomorrow” comes around, and you have no choice but to handle a bunch of things that you should have already taken care of—now you’ve got an already full day that just got heavier. There are a lot of reasons why we put things off, which are completely valid, but you can save yourself from a great deal of stress when you stay ahead of the game.
3. Avoid Clutter
They say that cleanliness is next to godliness. Whether God is interested in your business is debatable, but they certainly have a point. Clutter can accumulate anywhere; it is not limited to the mess in your home or office. Is the home screen on your laptop or tablet completely covered without shortcuts to files and programs that could be consolidated into just a few? Do you have 9,000 unchecked emails and spam in your inbox? Or do you have 5 email accounts that you haven’t used since college? Sometimes you don’t even realize it, but when there is clutter around you, it bogs down your mind. Getting rid of noise and dead weight like this is a great step towards streamlining your business, and even your personal life, in general.
4. Stock Up
From pens to product, you and your staff should always have everything you need to keep on running without a hitch. It’s simple: Don’t run out of product, and you will never have to tell a customer, “Sorry, we’re all out,” possibly even losing them for good; keep your staff constantly equipped with office supplies, and they will never have to take time out to restock. It doesn’t seem like a big a deal, but if you think about the time it takes to make special trips to stock your store, or to convince a customer that you have something else they want and retain their business—that is time you could have used for something much more productive.
5. Self-Check Exercise
As a small business owner, you can pore over sales reports and read reviews until you are blue in the face, but you cannot see where you are falling short until you look through the eyes of your own customer. Literally walk through the process that a customer will experience, from point of contact to point of purchase, or sign-up. There is nothing like actually being there and feeling the frustration of encountering a problem that a customer would, in their own experience. This is a great way to find holes, efficiency issues, etc., so that you know what to correct and how to improve.
Creating an efficient, productive business may not be easy, but it is not complicated. There are plenty of businesses out there that function well enough and manage to get by, while missing the point that if you have chosen this line of work, then you might as well optimize every aspect of your company. It’s all about doing things right. You can cut corners at every opportunity and put just enough effort into it to keep your staff and customers barely satisfied, or you can take the time to ensure that your business runs seamlessly and provides the best experience that it possibly can. Good luck, and remember to keep a tight ship!
Find out in this bonus article which productivity software works best for your business—Google or Microsoft:
Google Apps vs Office 365: Which is Right for Your Business?