Small businesses are often bedeviled by a lack of sufficient funds to accomplish several investment objectives. Because of this budget constraint, it is vital that they manage their relatively leaner resources in ways that boost efficiency. But the quest for efficiency can be challenging for a small business.
In 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that over 20% (that’s 1 in every 5) of small enterprises fail in their very first year of existence, while nearly 50% of small startups fail within the first five years.
This post sheds more light on some essential policies a small business can implement to ensure increased efficiency.
What is the size of a small business?
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), small enterprises have as many as 49 employees. For the EU, the main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are:
- Staff headcount
- Either turnover or balance sheet total
The EU defines small enterprises as those with between 10-49 employees. Same for the OECD.
In the US, the definition is not as clear-cut. The US Small Business Administration indicates that “the definition of small varies by industry,” and the US Census Bureau, while noting that most businesses in the US have less than five employees, declares that “no matter how we define small businesses, there’s no question they drive economic growth.”
Tips for increasing efficiency in small business team
The business world is tough and highly competitive. Every business investment carries some element of risk because of the likelihood that invested funds may be lost or not completely recovered. A good number of businesses often collapse because of inefficient management. Below are some tips that can help significantly raise the efficiency levels of your small business.
As a small business that intends to grow large, hiring the most qualified employees is key to ensuring efficiency. Therefore, you need to create an optimal hiring process that ensures your company hires workers who will add significant value to it. This implies that you need to have an in-depth understanding of the job role you are hiring for.
With such an understanding, it becomes easier to integrate each role within the context of your company’s hiring process in terms of things like conducting written and oral applicant interviews and other hiring procedures. With the stiff competition out there, hiring top talent can be expensive, but with the right HR policies, you can land the qualified manpower needed to boost efficiency without necessarily spending a lot.
Motivate your staff
After you’ve managed to assemble a team of high-quality and hardworking personnel, another important task is to always keep them highly motivated and engaged. Ensuring that your employee remuneration and welfare systems are competitive is one way to get the best from them. According to Teamstage.io, over USD 450 billion in losses are recorded every year by companies in the US due to having unmotivated employees.
You also need to recognize and even reward the good work done by your employees from time to time. Failure to do so can make them lack the motivation needed to continue delivering high-quality work. It can even make them feel undervalued and disinterested. 40% of demotivated employees blame it on a lack of recognition, according to data from efx.co.
Though tangible rewards can go a long way in motivating workers, you can achieve the same effect on many workers with nice words of encouragement. Data from efx.co also suggests that 48% of workers are of the opinion that getting a simple “thank you” for their work efforts will make them feel appreciated. Hence, a small act of recognition will cost a small business nothing in time or effort but is capable of having a significant impact when it comes to motivating workers to greater efficiency and productivity.
Unfortunately, a Gallup study indicates that only 15% of employees feel engaged in their workplace, which hints at a motivational conundrum for the global workforce.
Automate your workplace
Workplace automation is thriving. The Workato Work Automation Index 2021 indicates that 45% of corporate teams have built automated systems aimed at improving business efficiency. Workflow automation helps employees escape the stress involved in dealing with manual, time-consuming tasks (e.g., data entry).
In a nutshell, automation can improve everyday business tasks, minimize errors, and help you identify areas where business efficiency can be increased. Here are some benefits of workplace automation:
Automating your workplace can help you lower business costs by avoiding expensive errors and streamlining work processes in ways that enable employees to finish tasks more efficiently. Also, automation can help you save money on repetitive, time-consuming tasks that would otherwise have been done manually by administrative labor.
Ensures better workflow management
An automated workflow makes it simpler to assign job roles, space out tasks more efficiently, and approve responsibilities for the right team members. All these help speed up work processes that would have previously required the intervention of managers or other senior staff.
Increases productivity and profitability
Workflow automation frees workers to have more time for higher-value assignments capable of boosting productivity. For example, in industries with a high level of client engagement, automated processes can lead to serving more customers in a shorter amount of time and thus higher profit margins.
Leads to higher-quality work
Continuous improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have ensured that automation can help avoid some of the shortcomings of manual labor. Notable outcomes of these technological improvements include the elimination of human error as well as better organization, classification, and analysis of data, all of which can lead to higher quality work that impacts positively on a small business.
Use communication/collaboration software
A small business team whose members cannot communicate effectively can be characterized by improper team bonding, delays, missed deadlines, and other problems that can be detrimental to team cohesion, project success, and achievement of organizational goals.
In these days of COVID-19 and remote/hybrid work, promoting effective communication and collaboration among employees has become more essential than ever before. According to Teamstage.io, “organizations that promote communication and collaboration are 4.5 times less likely to lose their best employees.”
Communicating in a clear, open, and timely way enables the free flow of ideas and information, the coordination of organizational activities, and ultimately, better collaboration. Good communication also makes for greater trust and respect among team members, which are necessary for efficient teamwork and organizational success.
A team that is made up of a diverse group of people, each possessing a unique skill set, experience, and perspective, requires effective collaboration to thrive. “Nearly 75% of employees see teamwork and collaboration as essential,” according to Teamstage.io.
Efficient teams are able to overcome their diversities to harness each team member’s unique skills for the achievement of collective goals. Activities that require high levels of collaboration include peer-to-peer activities, group projects, team brainstorming sessions, and even exercises aimed at team-building.
A tool such as Heycollab is all you need to achieve seamless workplace communication and collaboration among all your employees. Heycollab is an outstanding efficiency-boosting software that is not only packed with useful features but also ranks very highly when compared with competitors.
We live in a world that is often fast-paced and seeks quick results. This worldly attribute is usually evident in most small business environments, where speed is of the essence and highly prioritized. But while trying to speed up things (as is the case with automation) can help boost efficiency, over-speeding can actually work against efficiency since employees may be pushed to work haphazardly and hence make mistakes while trying to meet tight schedules or turnaround times. Employee creativity can sometimes need a bit more time to produce the most efficient results.
Train your workers constantly
The world is not only fast-paced but also always in flux. This is why educators will tell you that learning is a lifelong experience. Constant changes in technology, for example, may frequently alter workplace procedures and practices. Because of this, it is always essential to periodically train and retrain your employees (or encourage such) to ensure they remain productive and efficient by updating their knowledge and skills according to current trends. This is one way of competing effectively and staying ahead of your rivals.
Economists all over the world hail small businesses as prime employers of labor and major drivers of the economy. But for many small businesses, survival is not easy, and some of them will fail before their first birthday. In today’s digitized business environment, inefficiency is often a contributing factor to small business failure. But with the appropriate digital tools such as Heycollab and the other efficiency-inducing measures mentioned above, there is no reason why your small business should not perform optimally and achieve most, if not all, of its goals.
Heycollab is a project management tool built for teams like yours. With a free 14-day trial you can try out all the cool features. To get started visit https://heycollab.com/