Battling to get everything done is the challenge that all business owners and entrepreneurs face. We all have the same amount of time as each other. The only difference is that some of us are more organised when it comes to using their time than others.
WARNING: This article probably won’t be what you’re expecting. It’s not full of time-hacks, or productivity tools.
Instead, it will take you through my guide to looking at your business holistically, working out where things are working inefficiently, and systematically improving those areas, so that your business can work more efficiently across the board…
Managing your time well vs managing it poorly, comes down to 3 main factors:
- Having a success mindset
- Following a strategic plan
- Having good systems to ensure you stay on track to your plan
Let’s discuss these quickly first before we get into the 5 steps…
Why Mindset is important to business efficiency:
If you want to read the full rundown on why Mindset is the number 1 Fundamental of Business, then read this article here.
But, for the purpose of this article, I believe that Mindset is important because many people get into the mindset of being ‘busy’.
There’s a big difference between being ‘busy’ and being productive.
Therefore, it’s important to watch our mindset and check:
Are we addicted to being ‘busy’?
Or, are we ready to take action and improve our efficiency?
The second reason Mindset is so important to helping us work efficiently, is that if we’re in a state of overwhelm, it’s impossible for us to see the wood for the trees. When we’re overwhelmed our brain shuts down.
We need to first work on getting out of that overwhelmed state before we can move on to the 5 steps!
So, let’s do a quick Mindset check – how are you feeling?
If you’re overwhelmed? Then let’s get that sorted first.
I suggest reading ‘7 Ways to avoid getting ‘snowed under’ by your business’
Why following a strategic plan is important for business efficiency:
Having a good plan is important for business efficiency because otherwise, you could be busy doing a whole lot of stuff, but none of it might be the stuff you actually NEED to do to help you achieve your goals.
Doh, that would be frustrating wouldn’t it!
It’s so so easy to veer off course and get distracted by bright shiny more fun things (or, even just all the urgent things that crop up that might not be fun at all) and not be completing the most important actions.
This is why it’s hugely important to have a clear and strategic action plan and review it regularly.
If you don’t have a plan for your business, let’s get that fixed pronto. I have multiple articles dedicated to planning, including: ‘How to design a business plan you’ll actually USE!’ and ‘7 things every successful action plan must have’.
I’ve also got a very popular online course which will take you step-by-step through creating your 12-month action plan. Not a plan you’ll write once, file in a drawer and forget about it. But, a system for organising your week so that at the end of 12-months you’ve achieved your goals.
Need help creating your plan?
We have a few different ways we can help:
Our ‘Plan Your System for Success’ course is an affordable online solution for self-motivated individuals who want step-by-step templates.
If personalised individual support is something you prefer, we can help with a one-to-one strategy and planning session.
Systems are important for business efficiency because:
Otherwise, it’s easy to lose the plot.
I’m sure this isn’t unfamiliar to you… Without smart systems, crap builds up all over your desk, in your inbox, and in your files, and you lose things all over the place. Not to mention things take twice or three times as long as they would otherwise and your head starts to spin.
Having smart systems are essential to working at optimum efficiency. I’ll talk more about what that involves and how to do it further down in the 5 steps.
Ok, now we’ve looked at the 3 main factors to consider, now we’re ready to get into the 5 Steps to Working More Efficiently:
STEP 1: Reconnect Your Why
This might surprise you – it’s not a typical step for considering during business efficiency work. But, it’s linked to the Mindset fundamental that we were talking about above.
Why are you in business?
What are you wanting to achieve in your business?
Without knowing the answers to these questions first, we might make your business more efficient – BUT – it might not be in line with your business why. So then it won’t be fun, and you won’t stick with it.
In order for any new systems to work – they need to be connected and support your overall business why.
STEP 2: Review Your Existing Systems
As we covered above, reviewing your systems is a fundamental area to review.
But, what systems do we review?
We have a who article talking about the ‘8 Fundamental Areas of Your Business’, so that’s a good place to read about the 8 Business Fundamental in more detail. But, here is the list of all areas of your business that you should review:
- You and how you manage your time
- Your Business Plan
- Your Finances
- Your Operational Systems and Processes
- Your Team
- Your Brand
- Your Sales & Marketing Processes
- Your Customer Experience
Each of these should be checked to ensure they’re helping serve your business goals and ensuring a joyful experience for you, your team and your customers.
How do you review your systems?
The first step is to ensure all of your systems are smart.
Smart systems are:
- SCALABLE – they need to be able to sustain your growth, not hinder your growth.
- MEASURABLE – if we can’t measure progress, it’s difficult to refine and improve. I recommend using systems that make it easy to track progress and see parts of the business that need improvement.
- AFFORDABLE – the price tag needs to be appropriate/achievable for the size of the business. Using the latest and greatest tools out there can be great. But, not if they are too expensive for the business to sustain before they see a return.
- REALISTIC – a realistic business system is one that will not put other parts of the business (like the business owner) under stress for longer than is required.
- TEACHABLE – Have you ever put a fancy system in place that was too hard to use and ended up being ignored? Old habits die hard and people don’t usually like change. This is why it’s imperative to consider how likely a system is to be utilized by the users before putting it in place. Asking the team for feedback and getting their buy-in is an essential part of considering a system.
If it’s been a while since you reviewed all your business systems, then I highly recommend doing so.
Our In-Flight Audit™ is the most efficient way to do it. It will even recommend solutions for those areas that aren’t doing so well.
Either way, systems are essential for working efficiently.
Want a full business and systems review?
Our BOSS Business Health Check will save you time and hassle!
It will help you measure the level you’re at in over 30 areas of your business, and recommend steps to take to help you improve.
STEP 3: Identify All Areas for Improvement
What key fundamentals need to be implemented or improved?
Which areas are causing more stress than necessary?
Are you clear on your ideal scenario?
What new systems (if any) can you source and implement?
When reviewing my systems and figuring out the answers to these questions, I like to map everything visually:
For example: Let’s take your sales process…
When an inquiry comes in, what happens?
Then what happens?
Then what happens?
Then what happens?
You get the idea…
Grab a piece of paper and visually draw or write out all your main systems.
Then, look for the breakdown points.
Which areas are working well and which aren’t?
What can you do to improve the areas which aren’t working well and improve that system?
STEP 4: Create an Action/Roll-out Plan
Creating an action or roll-out plan can be intimidating, but really it comes down to answering a few questions:
What steps need to happen to improve the current systems or implement the new systems?
When do these need to be actioned?
Who will action the changes?
Who do you need to communicate these steps to and train in the new systems?
I suggest creating a Trello Board, or other central location where you can map your roll-out plan visually and share it with everyone involved.
STEP 5: Schedule the Actions
Once you have created the plan, it needs to be put in action.
It sounds straightforward.
However, many a plan has been held back until it’s perfect or has sat collecting dust and not implemented at all.
Don’t fall victim to this.
It’s now time to schedule the tasks in your calendar and get them done.
Trying to think of your business on this global level can be an overwhelming prospect for many. Particularly when you’re right in the fire pit – cranking and feeling overwhelmed.
But, like the saying goes:
“If you’re too busy to create good systems, you’ll always be too busy.”
Let’s not be victims of the busy club. It’s an endless road of overwhelm and tears.
Creating smart systems won’t happen overnight. But, if you chip away at a small task each day (or week), those small tasks will add up to mighty change!
Hope that helps
About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).