Improving your efficiency and growing your SME

One of the most successful and simple changes to help your business grow is to review and rejig your operations and processes. By streamlining your processes you could save time and money, freeing up your resource to focus on winning new clients and giving added value to your current customers.

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Review your processes

Here are our top tips for reviewing and consolidating your operations:

  • Tip 1: Take a business workflow inventory. List all the processes that your staff do on a day-to-day basis. Keep this simple but thorough. It should flag up all the processes that are unnecessary for you to complete your client or customer deliverables.
  • Tip 2: Rank the remaining processes in your list in order of priority. Break each of these processes down carefully into granular steps. Work your way through each of these in order and make a note of changes that could make the process more efficient.

Think about the possible changes and decide which could be implemented quickly, as opposed to others that may take more time. Start with the easiest.

  • Tip 3: Get feedback from your employees from different departments and disciplines. Each of them will have their own processes that they know inside out, so they’ll have their own ideas and thoughts on how they can be improved.

Alistair Cane, co-founder and business strategy advisor at To Another Level, a business growth consultancy, adds some further tips about how to work as a business owner or leader:

  • “My first tip would be to ensure they have the ear of a trusted advisor or mentor – someone not in their business that they can have an honest conversation with and who they can talk to openly about the business.”
  • “Secondly, be clear about the KPIs across all areas of your business that will determine its success. Then put them to work, measure them subjectively and then make clear and objective decisions about areas/functions that may be underperforming.”
  • “Finally, act decisively. People have more respect for a leader who makes decisions rather than an individual that procrastinates. Not every decision is going to be right, but accept it, own it and change it.”

Where you can save time and money

As well as thinking about your own unique processes, there are lots of common costs and processes all businesses have that can be cut or simplified. These are some of the most common:

Paperwork

We’re all guilty of assigning forms for almost every process or event, but are these really necessary? Think about why each form is needed, what information you actually take from it and whether it benefits the actual job that needs to be done. If it seems unnecessary, cut it and reap all the available time.

Mobile phone and broadband charges

There’s a lot of competition out there at the moment. With plenty of deals available for consumers, now is the perfect time to call up your provider and try to get a better deal.

Outsourcing

Do you have lots of basic admin work? Outsourcing could be a good way to cut costs and take the responsibility out of your hands.

Consolidate software into one program

If you’re using lots of different brands of software for everything, from CRM to accounting, think about using a company that can combine everything you need for your SME business. Using one brand usually makes integration coherent, making it easier to teach your system to new staff. However, if your current system is simple and works efficiently, think about whether this is necessary. Migrations can be timely and expensive, so only make a change if it’s needed.

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