“I’d love to know how to increase efficiency” started the conversation and I immediately knew this was not going to be the quick 5 minute catch-up chat I had expected!
Where do you start answering such a broad question?
I needed to quickly understand what this client really wanted to know.
They were already very organised and tidy but were struggling to get everything done each day.
Deep down I already understood what the problem was - much the same as every small business - the owner was trying to do too many things. Trying to be an expert at everything instead of outsourcing tasks in which he had no real interest and more to the point, no real expertise.
Most start-ups have been there. Little capital and little cash flow and not enough contacts in the wide range of disciplines needed to run a business so the temptation is to do everything yourself.
So the day starts with the “let’s see what’s to be done today” hat on, which is quickly replaced with the “chase a few invoices” hat and on to the “better do some marketing” hat…
…the website updates
…the following up the lead
…the where did I write that number
…the what was I supposed to do next
…did I already send X the quote
…what time is Y coming in
I could continue but I’m sure you’ve got another hat to put on yourself!
It is often overwhelming and the business you started to give you some control and freedom has become a massive stress inducing drain on your energy.
How to increase efficiency, therefore, becomes a major component but reaches into every part of every business and it's difficult to know where to start.
I know, that all sounds so contrived, just a few throw away lines that really don’t help at all BECAUSE you still don’t know where to find the help. You don't know what technology will help nor who to outsource to and as to taking time for yourself:
- are you mad “I don’t have time to do what I have to do already”
Until you are prepared to accept those 3 points, nothing is going to change.
Albert Einstein, broadly accepted as a genius, is quoted as saying:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
Whether he did or not the fact remains “Nothing changes without a change” - that’s my quote so clearly I must be a genius too!
So here is what you must do to increase efficiency.
Commit to making one simple change in your business today. I don’t care what it is, just pick something from these suggestions to immediately help you increase efficiency:
For example, when you take on a new client/customer in your business ALWAYS follow the same process, such as
1. Email / Post a Letter of Engagement
2. Check signed letter returned
3. Send invoice for deposit
4. Record contact details in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system
5. Check receipt of deposit
6. Record payment in accounting programme (yes, DON”T use manual records)
7. Send receipt to client
8. Send welcome email / text / call (whatever your practice is)
9. Commence work for client
10. Record other steps in your list
11. Follow up with client
Please don’t start on at me about being able to multi-task. That is NOT a virtue in business, it is a recipe for having multiple unfinished tasks and projects and it is proven scientifically not to be efficient - you can read a great article about this here
Very soon (early 2018) this whole aspect of To Dos, Tasks and Checklists will be revolutionised by a fantastic new programme that will help you automate this gruelling part of your business.
Register your interest below for more information and advance notification of launch.
Accounting (use a software programme to make day to day activities simple and final accountancy fees less)
IT, especially things like website maintenance
Social Media presence
What YOU outsource to improve your efficiency will depend on your own skill set and what activities you like to do,
BUT, don’t get suckered in to doing things you like if outsourcing would save you significant time that you could use more productively elsewhere in your business
Many tasks are traditionally done on paper or basic computer programmes such as To Do lists, Post-It notes, invoices, accounts on ledgers or spreadsheets.
These can and should be moved to software programmes wherever possible.
Here are a few of the programmes I use to manage my business:
I will, however, very seriously consider the new CountingUp banking and accounting combined.
Nimble CRM - easily locate and follow individuals and companies across all social media AND keep communications in one plan.
Dashlane password management - secure and simple to use. Never forget login details again.
Not yet available publicly, but used daily in my business Remindersetc, ToDos, Tasks & Checklist automation. Click the button for further information and sign up for the notification list.
In summary, increasing efficiency is not a one-off - it is an ongoing process, updating to take advantage of new technology and taking time to think through what areas of your business would be best served by outsourcing.
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