Efficiency is the hallmark of a business operating like a well-oiled machine. However, time has a way of letting little habits sneak in that might not benefit your company. A full annual audit would help, but they can be expensive? How can small business owners streamline business operations on a limited budget?
Where are you wasting funds and time? Taking a hard look at all your business operations is worth the effort to reduce expenses and improve productivity.
What Does it Mean to Streamline Your Business Operations?
Streamlining means reducing resistance. No matter how long you’ve been in business or how efficient you are, there are at least a few areas every company can improve. Where is the resistance in your company?
An excellent place to start is by looking at any customer complaints you’ve received recently. Are packages arriving late? Then logistics need to be refined. Is your product failing after a few uses? Development comes into play. Look at each complaint and how it lines up to different processes within your company.
Should You Focus on Agility?
You’ve likely heard the term agile when referring to how to run a business. Agility is simply how flexible you are to changes in your customer base and the marketplace. Companies with built-in flexibility were able to shift focus during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay afloat, while others failed.
Agile project management lets you create an atmosphere of “continual improvement.” Don’t try to focus on everything at once, but choose the most impactful things and work on fixing any problems. Little changes often make a significant difference over time.
Agile leaders host regular scrum meetings to keep everyone on the same page. They analyze the risks involved and make tough decisions about which ones are worth trying.
How to Conduct a Self- Audit
A company-wide audit identifies areas your business has the highest risk. However, hiring an outside firm might not be within your budget. Fortunately, you can learn a lot by running internal reports.
Start with department heads. Ask them for an in-depth report on what is going well and what needs improvement. You can’t be everywhere at once, so you’ll have to rely on your leaders to share vital details.
Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software and inventory tracking systems. The cost for third-party software solutions will be much less than outsourcing audits. You can run multiple reports and learn things such as where you lose customers and which inventory runs out and causes issues with fulfillment.
1. Combine Different Processes
One of the simplest ways of gaining productivity without spending additional funds is by combining processes. For example, is your marketing department in communication with your sales team? If sales has no idea what campaigns are available, they might anger customers.
Look at new marketing efforts you can add to your existing plan. For example, experiential marketing gives customers a unique moment with your business but also aims to get clients to actively participate in your firm. They’ll share their experience with others and drive new business your way.
Another example might be combining your inventory controls and your e-commerce store. If you sell out of an item in your brick-and-mortar location, the system should update the online stock to reflect the lack of product.
2. Ask for Input
Look to the people who do the work every day for your brand. If you want to know how to improve your sales process, talk to the salespeople in the trenches every day. Survey your customers about what they like and don’t like. Ask for ideas to solve issues.
You never know where the perfect solution might come from, so, be open to ideas from all quarters. You might even find little thought of solutions. Perhaps the janitor mentions they see a lot of empty soda cans in the trash when emptying it. They suggest recycling the aluminum. Not only do you help the environment, but you make a little money on the recycled materials.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and take suggestions you didn’t expect. Every little thing you do to improve your business operations helps save time and money for your organization.
3. Keep Only What Works
Dig into the return on investment (ROI) on advertising and other efforts. What is working for you and what isn’t? Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean you should continue.
Companies spend about $365 billion on digital advertising each year. Unfortunately, not all of those efforts result in sales. Pay attention to the traffic hitting your site and how it converts. You might get numerous clicks from Facebook, but if they don’t result in sales, you’ve wasted effort and money.
When you find what brings highly qualified leads to your site, ramp up efforts in those areas. Alternately, get rid of the ads in places not bringing traffic or creating a high bounce rate. You may need separate landing pages for each of your ad campaigns to better ascertain which ones are effective for your brand.
4. Small Changes Equal Big Results
Don’t delay streamlining your business operations just because you have a tiny budget. Any slight change you make can save your company money and improve productivity and results. Conduct your own audits, ask for feedback and try different tactics until you discover which ones work best to enhance your brand. In conclusion, following the tips discussed in this article is a surefire way to streamline your business operations with a limited budget.
About The Author
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on user experience. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.
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