Start the New Year with a Clean Sweep of Your Business
I don’t know about you, but when I enter into the new year, I always reevaluate the different aspects of my life – this includes reviewing my business and how efficiently it is being run. Productivity struggles are real, and sweeping away the tasks, people, and situations that pull on your time, money, and energy will help improve your focus and, in turn, your business.
These tips will help you move into 2022 more productive and ready to grow your business.
DIY Mentality. Let’s start with the DIY mentality. Many small and midsize businesses tend not to focus their employees’ time on optimal tasks – wasting valuable time and money. Take a moment to map out your time and where you are spending it. If you’re spending too much time in one area, say administrative tasks, look at hiring employees whose sole focus is on those tasks. Not only will you save your own salary, but you’ll also be able to focus on growing your business rather than just handling little tasks.
Failure to plan. We are all guilty of it at one time or another, but this is the number one reason business owners waste their energy, money, and time. Business owners who don’t plan their day tend to become distracted and also tend to be more reactive to the little things that pop up. Reducing their productivity and, in return, the revenue they could be generating if they weren’t reacting. Start with a daily to-do list. Once you’ve mastered the daily list, create a three-day plan. By looking three days into the future – this includes meetings, deadlines, and any other demands on your time- you can make better decisions when something new arises. (The three-day plan also gives you a high-level overview of what you may be able to move around and helps avoid overbooking in the future). Spend time updating your three-day plan every day to keep it rolling along smoothly.
Procrastination. Who hasn’t experienced a moment (or two) of procrastination in their workday? However, if you constantly avoid tasks or put things off until the last minute, you need to determine why. Sometimes, this results from burnout or being overworked, but procrastination is typically seated in fear of the unknown or uncertainty and sometimes is related to intimidation. If a project seems too large, a coping mechanism we tend to turn to as business owners is procrastination. Break the task down to help overcome these feelings and focus on one section of work at a time. Once you’ve broken down the project into manageable portions, schedule 30-minutes to an hour to work on the parts. Give yourself a break, and then go back to the project piece until it’s completed.
Disorganized Delegation. Delegating job tasks is a way for business owners to help reduce their workload and create a more efficient business. Lack of clear direction can hamper the delegation process, making more work for you and confusion surrounding tasks. Creating task-related systems and procedures (such as scope of work) can help reduce the number of interruptions you’ll receive and a more straightforward path for your employees to accomplish their jobs. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a list of steps for each task performed regularly and the best practices for each job. If your employees learn from observation, ask them to shadow you to see how you perform the tasks.
Do Not Disturb. Untamed distractions can kill even the most carefully laid plans. The sheer amount of information we receive daily creates lost productivity time. To help reduce the number of distractions and time-sucks, start cleaning up your act. Create easy-to-find filing systems within your document share system to help locate essential and commonly used information more quickly. Limit the number of times you check your email in a day; consider looking at emails at the beginning of your day, after lunch, and before you go home (to help you plan for the following three days). If some of your distractions run to social media, consider looking into tools that will block these sites during work hours.
Stopping the Drip. Have you ever really looked at how many unwanted subscriptions, warranty programs, fee-based website and analytics programs, and other unwanted changes occur in your business? If not, you should. Now is the time to take a deep dive into where some of your budget is going, and anything that is not immediately useful to you or your employees should be eliminated.
Stop Collecting Customers. Do you know who your ideal customer is? If not, you may be spending time and energy on the wrong type of customer. Take a moment to define what your ideal customer looks like and develop strategies to attract those customers. Creating a marketing plan that focuses on your ideal customer – one who is willing to pay a fair price for the services you offer – is one of the most significant marketing and time investments you can make in your business.
Employees. Time and energy-sucking employees are not only difficult to manage, but they also aren’t what your company needs. Try moving them into positions that better suit their skills or where they can better serve your company. But, if the employee is miserable or there is a struggle to fit into the culture you are producing, then you’ll need to sever that relationship – and quickly. Negative employees can drain the creativity from you and your team, leaving everyone exhausted.
As you begin to clean your business house, consider what processes or practices you can put into place to keep your space clean. Here are four suggestions to get you started.
Work with your suppliers. If you work with suppliers or subcontractors, stay up to date on possible trends within their businesses. Subcontractors and suppliers are great resources for new ideas and ways to save time, money and become the vendor they want to work with for the long term.
Backup. Create backup systems for your personnel and data. Losing data or employees quickly drains time and money. Cross-train employees so more than one person knows how to manage the different tasks required to run your business. Develop safe and proper systems and procedures for backing up and storing important company data.
Learn from unexpected lessons. Businesses have ideas that work and ones that don’t. Keep a “lessons learned” sheet to record any knowledge you’ve gained from ideas that didn’t work. Be sure to keep information on the situation, including an analysis of why it didn’t work, and share it with your employees.
Keep track of your finances. Learn where your company is wasting money. Do this early and often, and have systems in place for following up on late payments, managing payables on time, and seeing the overall financial picture regularly outside of using your checking account balance.
Creating efficient processes and procedures will help you and your employees grow your business and give you insight into what areas you need to spend the time you’ve gained. This is our blueprint when we operate the businesses we purchase. We’ve developed the tools to make the business grow. Here is a little more about our process Tsetserra Growth Partners’ Process.