It seems 12 hour days, sleepless nights and no holidays are a rite of passage for a small business owner, however why should this despicable life be the status quo? It does not have to be, and with clever strategies to streamline the business, you can enjoy some beauty sleep again. Let us consider what strategies can be put in place for optimum streamlining.
Plant Efficiency, Reap Time
The art of streamlining a business is finding all the little ways to save time because several small lots of time certainly do add up. And time is money, as the adage goes. To do this, train your employees to be likeminded and skilled in finding smarter ways of doing things in less time. This notion is not about cutting corners to get the job done faster but rather learning to multi-task, schedule work simultaneously, optimise lead-times and shipping times and even planning jobs effectively prior to commencing work. It may be difficult to change the culture at first, but with management attention and reinforcement, over time, the rewards will be well worth it.
Outsourcing the Work
Global outsourcing is the name of the game. No longer do small businesses struggle away learning every aspect of what they do so that they can control the whole game. Instead, they assess objectively what they are exceptional at and what they can improve on. Then, the jobs they are not as experienced at can be outsourced and completed in half the amount of time and to a better standard. Accepting this as a business strategy requires humility to accept there are others out there who are better at some things and then to seek their help. The whole process can be very easy with systems like Google Hangouts, that can facilitate business meetings as if face-to-face.
Streamline with Technology
As a small business owner, the art of letting go and embracing advancement for growth is extremely important. It can be difficult to relinquish the reigns or not control every aspect of the business when you have built it from the ground up. However, technology is your friend and by embracing it wholeheartedly, the business will grow in leaps and bounds. This can extend to production equipment and processes, however, the storage warehouse and backend processes can also benefit greatly from an upgrade.
Inventory management software exists to streamline the production processes in terms of the raw ingredients and their transformation to product, ensuring that all items are tracked and, stored correctly and are available for sale as soon as possible. Excel spreadsheets have long been used for this and probably effectively, however as the company grows, it will be increasingly important to use world-class software that is so readily available. On this point, it can be undoubtedly useful to capitalise on technology in other areas too such as web-stores, communication and ordering systems and CRM software. The important thing to remember is to try and make sure all systems integrate well together and serve their purpose in saving you time, effort and heartache.
Learn from Others’ Mistakes
As a small business owner, it is imperative to research effectively and learn from the mistakes of others. You do not have enough time or capital for that matter, to make them all yourself and survive the experience. Observing and learning from other businesses can become an invaluable tool to investigate ways of doing things smarter and finding the points of difference that will guarantee your spot in the market.
In summary, being open to change and humble to accept advice, help and that other businesses can do some things better is a fundamental belief to ensure you stay ahead of the game while saving both time and money. All too often, the temptation is to control every part of your small business, however with the right software and outsourcing, you really can achieve more while working less.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.