How To Establish Efficiency In Your Small Business
You’ve been in business a little while now, you’ve established a market presence and built a reliable customer base. Your sales are consistent yet it’s becoming harder to keep up with demand or to consider sales growth, without continuing to throw more people, money, and time at it!
In the early stages of a business, it’s understandable that there is a high level of focus on sales and marketing – you need to become established and prove there is a demand for what you’re offering. But there comes a time when an equal focus is needed on how efficiently those sales can be delivered. Generating sales is great but what happens when the cost of delivering them becomes more than the revenue made? Or the time to deliver them is expanding because your team is unable to manage the volume and customers are becoming frustrated?
Effective operations management is at the heart of any well-run company, but it is something that small businesses often disregard, feeling that it doesn’t apply to them. What you may not realize, is that the concepts and principles (and the benefits) behind efficient operations management are applicable to all businesses – no matter what size.
In this post, we share why it’s important to focus on your business operations, even as a small business, and outline 6 key components that will help you establish a solid foundation.
What Are Business Operations?
The performing of activities, to keep a business running and earning money, is collectively referred to as the business operations. It is the daily planning, implementing, and supervising of all the activities involved in the production and delivery of goods or services.
Well-run operations are a critical, and often overlooked source of business success; a company’s success or failure relies heavily on the efficiency of operations and that requires making the best use of the resources available (time, people, materials, etc).
Put simply, it’s converting inputs to outputs, in the most efficient way; delivering your product or service in a way that gets the most out of your resources.
6 Key Components of an Operations Framework
Planning is knowing who you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there. Without clarity of these, it becomes difficult to set boundaries – how are you able to make decisions about the most important critical activities for the business, if you don’t know what end result you’re aiming for?
Processes are simply the ‘way you do things’. It’s the series of actions and steps you take to achieve something in your business, the delivery of a product to a customer, the recording and payment of invoices, and the recruiting of a team member. It’s essential to know what your core processes are and have these documented so that the most critical tasks in your business are performed in the best way, every time.
To have a great business, you need to have talented people. However, on their own they are not enough. You need talented people who align with your vision, have the necessary skills and capability, and to be in positions where they can thrive.
Having strong partnerships with those businesses who form part of your supply chain can greatly impact your business. Getting clear on who your partners are, their impact on your business, and how best to manage the relationship is key to ensuring a smooth flow of activities to get the right product to the right customer at the right time.
Effective performance management is essential to your business, providing an early warning of potential problems and allowing you to know when you need to make adjustments to stay on track.
The metrics you choose must promote the performance you want; both in terms of what you measure, and the targets set. If they are too easy, they won’t improve performance. If they are out of reach, staff won’t even try to hit them. The best targets are attainable, but with a healthy element of stretch required.
6. Problem Resolution
Problems arise within every business every day. They show up in many ways, for example, off-track performance results, an under-resourced team due to staff sickness, machine breakdowns, technology failures, customer complaints, and delays in supplier deliveries. All these problems need to be resolved in order to keep the wheels of your business turning.
Without a process to record, track and resolve problems, many will keep coming up again and again. It’s important to have visibility of what problems are occurring, establish the root cause, and implement a solution to stop (or as a minimum reduce the chances of) them happening again.
Every big business starts small
Efficient business operations are at the heart of any successful business, regardless of size. Making the best use of resources, getting the greatest amount out for what you’ve put in, allows for greater scale, and ultimately profit.
Every big business starts small – establishing the core foundations early on will make the journey much smoother and increase the opportunity to achieve greater returns.
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