How to Efficiently Run a Business
Posted on January 01, 2014
It's not uncommon to see businesses get quite messy over time - from keeping the business running smoothly to ensuring customers are happy, there isn't a whole lot of time to make sure that everything is running as efficiently as possible. What's worse is that we don't really set aside time for true business development, and most fixes that are made end up being band-aids rather than strategically planned process and procedural improvement.
Here's my advice: Clean up your mess when you have some quiet time.
Ideally I'd suggest to allocate some time each week or fortnight to just get everything back in order and even think about how your business can be running more effectively - but you don't care that much about it, and that's ok. I know some of you will be getting defensive, and there's no need to - I am not saying you don't care about your business, I am saying you aren't prioritising that particular part of your business. There are a million things to do, and this is completely fine. As long as you recognise spring cleaning is an important part of your business, you're actually halfway there to solving the problem! What's the other half? Just do it when you have quiet time!
When is this quiet time you speak of?!
Well the vast majority of businesses have built in quiet time - Public holidays usually, but also weekends. Ultimately though, large portions of your customer base take holidays, which means the strain on your business is considerably less for those periods. It's not as often (usually once a year around Christmas) but this is when you should be cleaning up your mess. By no means am I suggesting not taking holidays yourself, that's just going to burn you out and actually damage your business… But we all know you work through those holidays anyway - I am just suggesting to allocate your work smarter. If you spend that downtime with your business improvements in the back of your mind, you will come out with more creative solutions.
So, it's pretty much time management then?
Yes and no. See if I call it time management, you're going to fail at doing it long term because you've already been failing at it. Technically it is, but more so it is an effective work practice. Allocate quiet periods to ensuring your business has good procedures in place, then when things are busy, they will run smooth like butter and you won't need to band-aid as much!
So if I am still band-aiding, I'm not actually changing anything am I?
Yes you are, you are changing when you band-aid and how much you band-aid! We don't want you to stop band-aiding, because that means you are finding inefficiencies and doing your best to patch them till you can deal with them (you just never deal with them). We want to decrease the amount you band-aid over time because that means your system is becoming more solid and robust (a good thing!), and we want to deal with your band-aids collectively because they more often than not have inter-dependencies and can't be fixed without taking other issues into consideration.
The underlying premise
Overall if this situation doesn't necessarily fit yours, that's fine, I really want you to open your mind to a few key takeaways though:
- You never win or lose, you win or learn.
- You may not gain or lose anything, but moving things strategically is progress.
- Everyone has pains, and you can't fix them all at once. This is ok.