After running a business for a few years, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day details and forget that there are many other long term tasks of running a business. While keeping your business profitable seems like it’s primarily the result of increasing customers and sales, it can also be achieved through running a more stream lined and ultra-efficient business.

Keeping costs to a minimum is another obvious endeavor when running a profitable business, but there are more areas in a business that should be looked at, assessed and reviewed.

Remember, costs are not just money you spend, it costs you money when you waste time doing something that could take less time or someone else could do it cheaper than you doing it.

Here are some useful tips to help you make your business more profitable by being more efficient and eliminating unnecessary costs.

Information / Documentation / Records

  • Keep information and documentation in a structured way so that it is easy and fast to retrieve it when you (or anyone else) need it.

  • Standardise documents. The old saying “Don’t re-invent the Wheel” applies in Business. To avoid doing the same thing repeatedly; wasting time, resources and energy, standardise any documents you use frequently (or even moderately frequently). Forms and Checklists are a great way of doing this, but you can also standardise emails and notes. Anything that only requires minimal personalisation should be considered.

  • Use Templates, I can’t emphasize enough how much time these can save you. Think about all of the documents you produce or use and create a template for them, even if it is just a blank template with headers, page settings etc. without any information, it will be so much quicker to use this than creating from scratch every time.

Also, make sure your records are up to date, if a client moves or changes mobile number, as soon as you know, your records should be updated. Keep a record on your client files of meetings, conversations and decisions.

Time spent looking for something and trying to figure out what you have said previously is time that could have been spent finding new customers.

Cashflow / Money In and Money Out

Monitor your cashflow weekly (at least). The old saying Cash is King is great but in business Cash is Essential. Without a positive cashflow your business is sunk – to put it bluntly. Build a cashflow forecast, entering all your known outgoings, known income, on the dates they will come in and go out, reconcile this with your bank balance, also incorporate any costs that may crop up, so best guesses. You can start this today. You don’t need to go back to the beginning of a month or financial year if you have not already got a cashflow forecast then use yesterday’s balance and go from there.

  • If you have regular weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly payments to make, set up a Direct Debit or Standing Order so that you don’t have to spend time doing it every month – just make sure you record on your cashflow that you have done this and how much and when the payments will be taken from your account.

  • If you issue regular invoices to clients, use a system to set these up as re-occurring so that you don’t have to create & email them each time. There are many systems that do this; 17Hats, Xero, Quickbooks and Wave are just a few.

  • Set up a system to send out reminders or statements to those clients too so that you are paid on time.

  • Use Paypal or another such system to pay for things and for your clients to pay you. You can enter all the relevant information once (including your credit card details) and it’s quick, on your smartphone you can now even use your fingerprint to log in and authorise payments.

  • Use Accounting Software and keep it up to date, at least MONTHLY. If you do this, you minimise the risk of losing paperwork and receipts and possibly forgetting altogether something you could claim as a cost to the business and the tax reduction for this. In addition, when things are fresh in your mind it takes less time to remember it and process it than when you sit racking your brains and rooting around for information at the end of the year.

Habits

Write everything down as and when it happens/you think of it. I know I have said this before but as much as we like to think we are smart individuals who can remember anything and everything, the truth is that we have a lot going on, and we are bound to forget important details. Get into a habit of writing everything down.

I make notes including the date and time. A digital calendar like Google is great for appointments and meetings as you can make notes within the event, but for managing deadlines and projects it is not so handy. So, as well as your calendar try using a digital task management system like Asana or Trello, both of which are free and can sync with your mobile phone for managing deadlines, tasks and projects.

Processes

  • Plan for Emergencies. What happens when your computer breaks or the internet goes down? What if you have a family emergency? What will happen if you get sick? In order for your business to continue to operate, emergency procedures must be put in place. You don’t want the additional stress of dealing with the business while you’re dealing with personal or family issues.

    A Business Continuation Plan is a document that includes a step-by-step plan for if you have to suddenly take time away from the business, this emergency document will include all the contact information and procedures to follow so that other contractors, employees or even a friend can keep the business on track without you being there.

  • Automate as much as you can. Use tools, apps, software, anything you can to automate your processes so that you are not spending time processing every minutiae of your business yourself.

  • Review your Workflow. From initial inquiry from a customer to follow-up and feedback after completion and payment. Ask yourself, how smooth is the process? Where is the weakest link and how can you fix it? How long does it take at each stage? To do this correctly it does take some time but once you have done it you will be amazed how much time and money you will save. Of course, it is not a one-off task and should be done at least yearly.

  • Standardise processes. Any task that is done frequently should be standardised. It should have a process so that anyone can do it. You should also look at “grouping” tasks of a similar nature as this saves time as well.

  • If you have a team (even of 2, including associates and contractors), look at how you work together, how do communications and actions flow? Does everybody know exactly what they should be doing, what they are responsible for? How to do it and when to do it?

    A Business Management System is imperative if you want your business to run smoothly and efficiently but also to maintain your standards, culture and brand. It doesn’t have to be huge, but policies, procedures, work instructions and forms that run across and throughout your business does this for you.

Look at your business from a distance and you will see waste, time suckers and inefficiencies, unfortunately, you will also see issues that need to be addressed immediately as it is difficult to get that distance when you are so wrapped up in the day to day running of it. You will possibly see what needs to be done but file your thoughts away in the back of your mind or put it on a longer term to do list and promise yourself that you will address them as soon as you have finished putting out fires.

You may have considered outsourcing tasks, projects and areas of work before, you may even do this, but have you considered getting outside help to look at your business efficiency? You would still need to be involved but your Efficiency Expert will look at all aspects of your business from outside in and inside out to guide you to make those all important changes to save you time and money and make you more profit.

During our Wiz Efficiency Audit and Action Plan, you will see things clearly and be inspired.

You may even have a lightbulb moment or two and see the future of your business in a new light.

You will definitely benefit from a more efficient, streamlined and organised business, minimising wasted time and making it more cost-effective.