This week during a client meeting, my client and I were discussing her operations. She runs a fast-paced, million-dollar business, and it’s not running as smoothly as she would like. Although she has the majority of her SOPs documented and communicated, things are still not getting done. A lot of tasks, that should be handled by her team, are falling on her plate. Although she is a hustler and manages to keep all the balls in the air, it’s not an efficient use of her time.
At Amazing OBM, our primary focus is to set up our organization, as well as all our clients’ businesses, to run like clockwork. As an online business manager, I understand how inefficiency can affect our time, profit, reputation, and stress levels. In any given moment, I am constantly monitoring tasks, systems, team members, software, communications, decisions, and anything else that gets in the way of maximizing operational efficiency.
As business owners, unless you have a strong operations background, you may not always be focused on this side of your business. Many of my clients cringe at SOPs, technology, finances, and all the other “boring, monotonous, and analytical” areas of business. Marketing, Sales, Relationship Building, and Serving Clients is sexier and more fun!
your business still has to run. Without giving proper attention to
boosting efficient operations, your business simply can’t scale. Let’s
look at the seven best ways to save time in your business and maintain a flow
that requires little of your attention. After all, your goal is to focus
on being sexy and working in your genius zone.
Streamline Your Processes
If you don’t have processes, you need them. And they need to be documented. One of the best ways to review your processes is to go through the exercise of creating a step-by-step checklist for each business activity you or your team does. As you go through and write down each step, you begin to see what exactly you are doing. When you see something on paper, it is very different than just going through the motions of accomplishing the task. You will begin to ask questions about why something is done in a particular way, or how it could be done better. Inefficiencies will show up. Holes in the process will become evident. Create a process that documents the most efficient way to accomplish an activity from beginning to end. Work with this process for a while, revise it if it needs streamlining, and then commit to following your process.
Commit to Consistency
It’s no surprise that the more we do something, the faster and better we are. When one of my virtual assistants first started with me, she was unfamiliar with a lot of the software I was using to manage my client work. She had a learning curve to overcome. One of my solutions was to provide her with consistency so she could learn faster and master the tasks I gave her. I gave her the same client work over and over, and I didn’t change it. Imagine how confusing it would have been for her if every week I changed things up a bit. Maybe one week I told her to do things one way. The next week I told her to do the same task in a different way. Not only would it cause confusion and frustration, our operations would be increasingly inefficient. Today this VA is very good and efficient at the tasks she is responsible for. Consistency reduces error, saves time, and puts the learning curve on a fast track. Commit to consistency as much as you can. Don’t change things unless there is a solid reason to do so.
Get Uber Organized
In the last quarter of 2018, I spent a great amount of time getting my business organized. I organized all my email in folders and set up filters to automatically file emails away when it comes in. I set up a virtual office on Google Drive and moved everything off my hard drive into the appropriate cloud-based folders. I invested in a new Project Management Tool to help me and my team be more efficient. Let’s just say I was on a mission to be uber organized. And what a difference it has made in my efficiency level. It has cleared my mind to focus on other important items. It has saved time for me, my team, and my clients. Lack of organization is a huge time waster. Pick an area of your business that you need to clean up and organize.
Let Software do the Repetitive Work
This past month, my team and I have been focused on a big client product launch. As you can probably imagine, there are a million (yes, I’m exaggerating) little details that need to be managed. Tracking leads, follow up communications, marketing automation, social media campaigns, and onboarding tasks are just some of the items that need to be completed. Much of our time is spent on setting up software to automate these activities. We are constantly looking at the fastest and most streamlined way to spread the word, reach the greatest amount of people, and let the software do the work for us. Take a look at all the repetitive tasks in your business. Is there a piece of software that can do the work for you? Can you set it up once and then let it happen automatically in the background? Is it possible to set up integrations between different pieces of software so they talk to one another? Technology, while mind-boggling at times, is a powerful way to automate your business and free your time to manage the more human-centric activities in your business.
Delegate to Specialized Experts
It is true there are tasks in your business you either aren’t good at or don’t enjoy. There are other people, however, you can hire that love and thrive with these tasks. One of my clients used to write her own blog posts. As she got busier, this task only bogged her down and created stress. Eventually, she gave up and stopped writing altogether. As a result, she wasn’t marketing and providing valuable content to her audience anymore. To her credit, she decided to hire a content writer, someone who specializes in writing blog posts. Since then, we are now in a regular routine of posting and sending out content to her prospects. Specialized experts are normally faster at completing tasks in their area of expertise. While we can still possibly do what they do, it’s not efficient for us to spend our time in that way. Make a list of all the tasks you could delegate to someone else – build your team of ninja contractors to help you work faster and smarter.
Minimize the Customization
I love templates. Email templates. Proposal templates. Invoice templates. Communication templates. If it saves me from recreating the same wheel over and over, I want a template. Sometimes my clients start from scratch every time they have a new client. They are convinced they need to customize for their client. Although it’s true that there is some level of customization that is required at times, much of what we do can be simplified and repeated. Business owners that set up their business to scale are often looking at all the ways they can repurpose what’s already been created. Even if you use 80% templated and repeatable content and processes, and customize 20%, imagine the time you have saved. Try not to get caught in the mindset of thinking that customization is the only way to offer personalized service. Your customers are connected to you and the way you make them feel – not your customized business activities. The truth is they don’t know what is original and what is custom.
Continual Talent Management and Development
Let’s go back to the client I discussed at the beginning of this article. Talent management and development is at the heart of this client’s operational issues. Is it possible she has the wrong person in the wrong job? Would it help to develop her employees in areas they might be weak? Are there gaps between expectations and reality? Does the communication and training in processes need to be tightened up? Is there too much for one person to do, and is it time to add to her team? These are all valid questions. As business owners, we have to continually look at our team. Not only do we need to hire right, we need to continually develop the team we have. Lately, I have found myself handling every client request that requires the use of Acuity – a scheduling software. When I step back, I realize my team lacks training on this software. And because many of my clients use Acuity, I need to bring my team up to speed. Your team and your systems drive your business. Both need to be optimized if you want to maximize your business efficiency.
I can honestly say, from personal experience, that the faster your business is growing, the more important it will be to automate and improve your operational practices. Make sure you are taking time to work “on” your business. I promise you will be so much happier when it’s running like clockwork.
Lori Young is the founder of Amazing OBM. She and her team work with clients to streamline their operations, build and implement systems that save time and money, and free you to work in your genius zone.
7 Best Ways to Maximize Automation and Efficiency in Your Business
February 28, 2019