I ran a survey recently to determine how efficient businesses are and what they felt needed to be done to improve. It’s still open if you want to answer the questions too. More than 80% of businesses that have answered the survey already felt that they were kind of efficient or not really efficient at all. With that in mind I thought I would address some of the results and give some simple hacks to enable you to become more efficient.
A number of respondents felt that they would be more efficient if they automated.
What if I said that automation isn’t always the answer to improving efficiency? I agree that for marketing and following-up for sales that automation is most often more efficient. It reduces the manpower needed to follow-up and act, but it isn’t going to improve efficiency in all areas of your business.
One of the reasons though that automation feels more efficient is because it is following a system. Often bringing on automation just means that you’re bringing on a system where one didn’t previously exist or where one wasn’t ideal. I would suggest that before you bring on automation that you look at your existing processes and systems. If they’re not documented you will struggle to be efficient because you won’t have everyone on the same page. This means if you have more than one person doing the same task they are going to do it their way, which might not be the most efficient way.
One respondent indicated that their business would be more efficient if their VA was more proactive and had systems she can easily follow. What if I said the two go hand in hand. An employee of any kind is going to be more proactive if it is clearer to them what is expected of them and how they are to do the tasks assigned. Documenting your systems means that you’re making them easy to follow. Documenting your systems means that employees will feel more empowered to do their job and will do more to be proactive. Providing them with a job description and undertaken performance reviews, even informally, will make the right employee more proactive too.
I feel that there is a greater reliance on people and businesses to turn to technology to improve their efficiency before looking more closely at their business to determine what the real problems are. Technology isn’t going to make you more efficient if you don’t plan and prioritise. Technology isn’t going to make you more efficient if you don’t train employees appropriately so that they know how to use it.
So where should you start if you want to be more efficient? What simple hacks can you implement right now to make you more efficient?
First, make sure you have templates where ever you are doing repetitive tasks – emails, newsletters, responses to customers and social media posts are just some examples of where to look. By using templates you won’t be starting from scratch every time.
Second, implement a checklist as a simple procedure. Checklists are a saviour for working through a task, especially when the process is one that is managed over a number of days, weeks or months. A checklist reminds you of what steps you’ve taken and what steps you’ve got left to take. Think about processes like client onboarding, preparing for a worshop, packing and shipping customer orders which are all areas that lend themselves to using a checklist to improve efficiency.
But no matter what templates or checklists you have in place, how efficient you are is still going to be impacted if you cannot plan and prioritise effectively. Being clear on your systems means that you also know how much time that you need to complete the tasks involved. By knowing how much time you need you can plan accordingly and ensure that you plan out the tasks to complete them within a given timeline. Technology can help with this to some extent. There are some simple (and free) online project management tools that allow you to add projects and map them out. Asana is one that I use to manage all that I need to do at home and in my businesses. But the tool doesn’t work if I don’t also plan each and every day effectively.
With that, my third hack, is to plan out your projects and routine tasks in a manner that is clear to you – whether it is a yearly, monthly or weekly planner, or even a combination of them all. Electronically or on paper. But don’t leave it at that. You then need to use that, with your calendar to plan out your day, each and every day. The reason I get through what I do in a day is because every night I plan out my next day. I don’t necessarily put the tasks into time blocks, but I do start every day knowing exactly what I need to get done. I know what are my priorities are so that I can focus on getting the right tasks done. If something unexpected comes up it is also clearer to me what task I can leave for another day and which ones I can’t. It also means that it is easier to focus and get through what needs to be done, because you have everything in front of you.
So how does that sound? Simple enough to implement? Or does the idea of having to set the templates and checklists up and create planners overwhelm you?
That’s ok if it does. Why? Because you have me to support you! All we need to do is have a single conversation to go over the areas that are overwhelming you and I can guide you into what you need to put in place. I can even create the templates and checklists that you need and document your systems for you. You or an employee will need to talk me through your processes (which is easy to do) and after that I can create everything that you need.
Sound worthwhile? If improving your efficiency is something that you want to do for your business, then be sure to reach out to me. You can book a time to suit you using my online booking tool – no tooing and froing to find a time that suits us both, how efficient is that?! The first conversation only needs 30 minutes and is free too, so you have nothing to lose and only more time to get back in your every day!
I look forward to speaking to you soon.