Small businesses often run lean, with limited financial resources. That lack of capital sometimes limits growth opportunities, which is a great reason to expand margins by boosting workplace efficiency and doing more for less. The quicker you reach profitability, the more growth opportunities open up.

Here are some simple, low-cost tips for improving the efficiency of your business team…and your business.

1. Provide the tools to do the job. Most businesses run on information, from inventory data to upcoming project schedules. Make sure your employees have access to the information and tools they need to perform their jobs quickly. An employee who has to ask a manager for the latest “figures” should probably have access to that information without the extra step of securing manager approval.

2. Make it easy to collaborate. Even a micro-business needs a secure network to exchange information between employees, company and clients, vendors, and others associated with the company. Using customer relations management (CRM) software, stakeholders can see real-time status on each project, each job, and each sale.

Online tools can simplify collaboration between stakeholders in distant locations. Project management tools keep outsources informed and enable integration of services. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can provide the “face time” that encourages cooperation and teamwork, no matter where team members are based.

3. Develop business systems. What is your company’s specific, step-by-step system for entering an order, handling a return, hiring a new employee, or making payroll? Each business activity should have an in-house procedure in which all employees know their roles. Invest some time to create systems and write procedures manuals. Don’t forget to review them periodically and make updates as needed.

Automate routine tasks as part of your business systems. For example, talk to your banker about using business services to improve company efficiencies. Your bank can help you set up 24/7 online banking, automated payments, electronic funds transfers, and remote payment capture.

4. Use the latest technology. Consider technology upgrades an investment in improved efficiency. Analyze the needs of each employee and provide the technology required to get the job done faster. A smartphone is also a gateway to the Internet and to office files, so keep remote-site employees in the loop using smartphone technology.

Update computers, the office server, workplace data security – if you make it simpler for your staff to do their jobs, efficiencies will evolve and become routine.

5. Identify company strengths and make the business even stronger. What does your company do better, or at a lower cost, than competitor companies? Are you small enough to deliver personalized attention? Big enough to handle a big job?

Devote your time, and employee time, to those business activities that deliver the biggest return. If cold calling delivers a 1.5% conversion rate, but your social media page converts at 5%, keep that social media campaign in high gear, and perhaps cut back on cold calls.

6. Keep your focus. As a company leader, you provide direction to members of the staff. However, if you’re pulled in different directions throughout the work day, you may actually slow down production and become a pinch point that makes your business less efficient. Stay focused on your work to keep up with the needs of other co-workers.

As a small business owner or manager, your time is extremely valuable. Develop a to-do list. Update it regularly. Before you leave the office for the day, check your calendar for tomorrow. Use drive time to plan tomorrow’s schedule.

7. Prioritize business activities. Maintain communications with the rank-and-file to make sure you know on any given day what the company’s most pressing priorities are: a batch of back orders waiting for shipment, a customer service issue with a major client, or a project with an impending deadline. Shift assignments or work schedules if needed to make sure these fires are put out.  

In today’s octane-fueled business environment, being efficient in business activities means you get more for less – and that could be your key to long-term business success.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.