Time is a precious commodity, and when you’re a small business owner, it’s typically the thing you wish you had more of. When you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, using the time you do have effectively is crucial.

It can be a hard road to navigate, but here are five strategies to make your business more efficient and streamline your small business.

Collect and use data and analytics

Use website analytics to help understand which pages or navigation tools are causing pain-points for site visitors – and familiarise yourself with analytics tools to track your performance on social media. You’ll uncover interesting spikes and trends and it can be hugely effective in managing and measuring your digital strategy.

The knowledge you collect from speaking candidly to your customers or clients can be invaluable too. If you have a customer database, consider implementing a quarterly or biannual survey to collect anecdotal feedback. For your customers, the beauty in dealing with a small business can often be that personal touch.

Automate and outsource non-core activities

These days, more often than not, there’s a platform to help solve the pain points of any business. Accounting software can be a big help when it comes to managing invoicing and bookkeeping, which Prospa research has shown is the biggest source of concern for small business owners. There are also countless cloud-based platforms for marketing and social media management that are easy to set up and relatively cost-effective for a small number of users on your team.

Take some time to investigate what solutions might work best for your business and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, enlisting a professional can still be the right call. Look to outsource activities outside of your expertise – it might require some investment (and a bit of letting go), but it’s likely to take an expert half the time to carry out the same body of work, with better results.

You don’t need to completely divest yourself of these responsibilities, but automating and outsourcing the right areas can help your business work smarter, not harder.

Assess employee productivity and processes

Schedule regular check-ins with your staff to evaluate workloads, roles and responsibilities. This doesn’t always mean having formal reviews with stringent KPIs, but keeping an open dialogue with staff to uncover things you otherwise might not have considered.

You may find you can maximise efficiency by better matching employees’ skills to different areas of the business or increase productivity by allowing team members to have more flexibility in their role.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses within your team and business will ensure you know where you’re lacking resources or support. Investing in staff with the right skills and attributes is key to boosting the efficiency of your business.

Grow your network

Explore local business groups and associations for networking or professional development opportunities. It can promote your business to the wider community, and you might even pick up a few learnings from others along the way. Networking can pay dividends when it comes to recruiting, attracting new customers and seeking advice, and lots of events are free.

If you feel like you could use a little extra guidance from time to time, a mentor can transform your overall confidence and help set you up for success.

Running your own business can be tough, so don’t be scared to ask for help. Surround yourself with support and be open to opportunities that come your way.

Have the best tools for the job

Old or inefficient gear can suck time and money, causing ongoing frustration. It sounds simple, but having the right equipment can make the biggest difference in your performance.

Make a habit of reviewing and updating the tools-of-your-trade to ensure you’re at peak performance at all times. Write a list of all the things you need to operate smoothly (equipment, tools, subscriptions, leases etc.) and note down when they need to be rolled over or replaced.

Prioritising and staggering the upgrades can mitigate the risk of having to make expensive upgrades all at once, which can be helpful for managing cash flow.

If at any point in your journey you require additional staff, expert help or new equipment, assess whether extra funding can help achieve your goals. Investing in key areas can have a big impact on the efficiency of your small business and deliver great returns.

Speak to a financial adviser to see whether it’s the right move for you, and ask about small business loans that could help you grow.

Adrienne Church is General Manager at Prospa New Zealand

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