When you run a small business, your focus is primarily on working towards increasing profitability by maximizing sales; finding new customers, running successful marketing campaigns, sourcing better products and so on. With all these strategic goals to focus on, it’s unsurprising that a lot of the smaller influences on your bottom line slip under your radar. However, neglecting smaller matters can make your primary role a great deal more challenging, so it’s worth spending a little time and effort on smoothing out any rough edges in your business.
The saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” has wisdom, because worrying about trivial matters in your life can cause you to forget the bigger picture and make you unnecessarily stressed. However, in business, you should keep an eye on the everyday ins and outs of how your business runs, for there’s very often useful information to find or improvements in processes that save time and money.
What you need is a balance; you don’t want to spend a lot of your valuable time carrying out mundane tasks like checking the stocks in the stationery supply cupboard. On the other hand, you could be spending far more than you need to on supplies because one of your staff members is helping themselves. A quick spot check on the stationery supply chain should highlight any discrepancies, saving you unnecessary expenditure, and putting a stop to dishonest practices.
Another angle to this scenario is your role as supervisor to your employees. If you have a member of staff who is responsible for all the stationery supplies, you want to be able to trust them to do a good job. On the other hand, however good they are at their job, now and then a review of how they’re carrying out their responsibilities is wise because everyone benefits from a fresh pair of eyes on their work. For example, you might see the potential for cost savings or ways of streamlining the task that hadn’t occurred to your employee.
Equipment & Tools
It’s also sensible to check that every member of staff has all the tools they need to complete their work to the highest possible standards. That could mean replacing standard keyboards with ergonomic versions, updating the office chairs, or providing better break facilities. Small changes like these improve the working environment for everyone, and staff who are happy and well cared for are far more productive.
For employees who don’t work at a desk all the time, there are other considerations to make. For instance, do they have safe and sensible storage solutions for their tools? A scatter of tools on a workbench makes unnecessary clutter, and it’s harder for employees to find what they need, wasting time every day. Using a well-organized storage system protects tools and ensures they’re readily at hand when needed. You could also combine the function of storage with the workbench, saving space and making it easier and quicker for staff members to carry out tasks. Check out this product to see how the concept works in practice.
Regularly Reviewing Processes
As well as staff facilities and activities, reviewing your processes can highlight opportunities to make savings and optimize productivity. How long is it since you compared what you’re spending on essential goods and services with the prices other suppliers are charging? A quick review of your bills and a comparison to what you’d be charged elsewhere can save you hundreds or thousands in costs every year. You don’t need to spend ages seeing the whole process through, simply delegate the nuts and bolts of the task to a responsible member of staff.
On the subject of staff, their performance is influenced by far more than their equipment and facilities. If you’ve been concentrating on strategic matters, you may have fallen into the trap of failing to provide positive reinforcement to your staff. The boss who only notices their employees when they do something wrong is a familiar stereotype, but there are still many of them about. Examine your own behavior to see if you’re communicating well with your staff. Do you always greet them warmly, give them your attention, and ask after them personally? Or has it become your habit to mutter a quick salutation before disappearing into your office?
Pay Attention to Small Gestures
It’s understandable that the big issues in your business take up your attention, but not stopping to converse with the people around you causes resentment and lowers productivity. Small gestures that show you care and appreciate the work they do are highly motivating for staff and can yield results way above the input required. The same is true of relationships with suppliers. A little time spent building relationships can reap rewards when you need stock in a hurry, or you have a problem with a product.
There are probably many other small influences relevant to your business that don’t get your attention, but that could be affecting your profitability. For example, if you have a store with a window, keeping the displays fresh and attractive is essential for drawing in customers. But have you been so absorbed in what should go in the window that you’ve forgotten about tasks such as cleaning the window glass, so it sparkles, or sweeping away any cobwebs?
These little points can make the difference between you attracting customers to come into your store and seeing them wander off to your competitor’s store. There are cycles in all things, so if you’ve got some aspect of your business perfectly sorted today, don’t forget that in six months or a year, that area will need to be reassessed. Everything changes over time, but being aware of how to monitor these changes and keep in sync with them gives you an advantage over your competitors.
It’s vital to spend the bulk of your day engaged with the matters that need your expertise and supervision, but in your efforts to manage the big picture, don’t neglect the smaller elements that play such a fundamental role to your business success.