When you're running a small business, every second counts. Whether you're spending all day on a conference call on your business phone, running to client meetings or tearing your hair out over the neverending flood of emails dominating your inbox, there's a better way. Take a breath, settle down and listen up - improving business efficiency can be as simple as these seven steps.
1. Keep your priorities straight
When the coffee machine is broken and the meeting schedule has gone awry, it's easy to forget what the first priority of any business is - the customer. Building not just your days in the office but your entire mindset around best serving your customers will not just better day-to-day operations, but your business philosophy and sense of productivity as well. Australian Institute of Management chief Tony Gleeson told SmartCompany that this priority cannot be overestimated.
"Focus on the customers. Think about what's going to make a difference to the customer or your clients," he said. The rest will fall into place from there.
2. Implement effective services within your business
When it comes to productivity management in the office, corners simply cannot be cut. Inefficient cloud hosting, Wi-Fi and business phone services will end up costing your company in both productivity and employee morale, and a major first step toward success in the office is finding a service provider that offers small business solutions that works for your bottom line. Fortunately, these wireless services can very often be bundled together under the umbrella of a single reliable provider, which will save money and improve business efficiency.
3. Stop panicking about your inbox
Tim Ferris, author of the book "The 4-Hour Work Week," spoke to Business Insider about his journey from 90-hour work weeks to managing an equally successful business operation by working smarter, not harder.
Ferris asserted that giving too much precedence to an overflowing inbox can be an inefficient use of time.
"First, because it's everyone else's agenda for your time, often including manufactured emergencies. Second, email allows you to fool yourself into thinking you're being productive," he said. For a more effective use of time, he recommended limiting e-mail checks to two or three occasions in the day at a fixed time, and ensuring the rest of one's time in the office is dedicated to more pressing tasks.
4. Manage your data electronically
The hype is true - going paperless in your office can improve business efficiency when managed and monitored effectively, and can change the way your business does meetings and manages office space. A paperless workspace offers the advantage of eliminating the dreaded file cabinets and copy machines of yore from your business for good, and can be replaced with effective document management systems. As long as a reliable cloud server is used and cloud security is implemented, this work solution can clear your desk clutter for good.
5. Take a breather
Small business demands a lot of an owner, but remember to strike a sense of balance between home life and work life, or you're more likely to burn out quickly. Gleeson told SmartCompany that finding this happy medium is the key to a happier office environment.
"Business owners don't need to be there 24/7 if they have the right management structures in place," he said.
If the necessary precautions are taken and work appropriately delegated within the office, it's OK to take a morning off every here and there. While in the office, take the 10 minutes to clear your mind and enjoy a cup of coffee - it'll give you a chance to mentally prepare yourself for the rest of the day, and will provide a sense of calm.
6. Streamline your social media plan
The importance of online marketing for small businesses can't be overstated, and the sheer volume of free social media applications for a company to take advantage of can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are applications that allow a small business to manage all major social media accounts from one hub - HootSuite is one of the best examples, and a small business can schedule its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog posts and more well in advance to avoid the constant stress of content production. All it takes is a sit-down every few days, and your social media plan can remain happily intact.
7. Distractions are the enemy
OK, do you really need to upload those photos from the business barbeque right now? It's easy to resort to a less pressing task when the dread of a larger responsibility hangs over your head, but there are applications out there to keep you honest. RescueTime is a service that monitors your computer usage on your devices so you can better track how you use your time in the office - and, just possibly, guilt you into using it even more efficiently.
Small business solutions are everywhere, but it's up to you to maintain the workflow of your office - so what are you waiting for? Get to work!