In business, each day presents a fresh opportunity to do things better than yesterday. Even when certain processes or techniques have worked very well, there will always be new avenues through which they can be improved.
Improving your business operations ultimately means reducing wastage, growing your customer base, creating new markets and increasing profit. The key to successful process improvement is thinking about the business’ overall strategic objectives and how best these can be met.
The following are some of the ways small businesses can keep doing better.
Monitor Financial Metrics
It’s amazing how many small businesses run on autopilot because their owners don’t look at their key performance indicators on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Yet these key metrics provide the best sign of how well the business is doing and whether its headed in the right direction.
One of the most important numbers to keep tabs on is cash flow. Many otherwise profitable small businesses have collapsed under the weight of a scarcity of cash. If you don’t have the skills to know what you need to look at, engage an accountant. It is from these metrics that you’ll make decisions on what you need to change before things get out of hand.
No business has ever succeeded without having a set of clear and unambiguous goals. Whereas many small business owners know this, what is sometimes lost on some is that business goals aren’t static.
In order to keep up with changes in the operating environment, goals have to be reviewed regularly. For instance, if a business had set a target of making at least 10 sales each day and has already achieved that, it’s time to step up this target and set sights on a higher figure.
Information technology has become such an intrinsic part of day-to-day life to the extent that it is often taken for granted. Many small businesses are actually not making the most of the tools available to them.
Technology can be used to improve a wide range of business processes including accounting, customer service, sales, inventory management, human resources and compliance. For instance, businesses involved in the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products can benefit from solutions that minimize their risk of incurring a selling tobacco to minors penalty.
Identifying Best Practice
There are many legal ways to achieve the same objective and this is a principle that applies to business as well. However, just because something is not illegal does not make it the right thing to do. Every industry has an either formal or informal best practice standard that often derives from the need for efficiency and/or good ethics.
Small businesses need not waste time and resources reinventing the wheel. It’s always best to start from the point of what everyone else in the industry is doing before seeking ways of improving those techniques and giving your business a competitive advantage.
Employees are every business most important asset. This is perhaps even more true for small businesses than it is for large corporations. Small business workers are spread thin and often have to serve in multiple roles that would otherwise be held by different persons in larger organizations.
Keeping staff motivated is crucial if you want to ensure things always run smoothly. Motivation doesn’t have to come at great financial cost. Often, it’s the little things like performance recognition and time flexibility that boost staff morale the most.
At any point in time, your business is either improving or falling behind. By making constant improvements to your processes, you increase your chances of always being one step ahead of the competition.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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