One of the complexities of managing a small to medium sized business is having the ability to optimise your organisation, enabling it to run more efficiently.
Unlike larger companies that have greater access to significant financial backing, small business owners need to be especially resourceful when implementing effective cost management, operational and inventory control techniques. They need to streamline aspects of their business, so they remain viable even in a fickle economy.
Efficiencies in time, labour, inventory control and running costs can all be achieved through the employment of faster or simpler working methods that streamline your day-to-day operations.
Reduce Overheads the Smart Way
Overhead costs for small businesses can be quite significant. Particularly for brick and mortar establishments that incur rental fees, energy bills and inventory holding costs.
What tasks are you currently performing that contribute to overhead costs and detract from revenue-generating activities? Access these to determine if any of the tasks can be streamlined with technology or by outsourcing to reduce overheads and improve your business.
Look for areas where cost efficiencies can be made. Are you using services that can be bundled to provide cost savings? Voice over internet protocol, or VOIP systems allow businesses to make calls from anywhere there is a broadband connection.
Using a single source provider for communication services such as telephone systems and internet connectivity can help to reduce overhead costs.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Advances in technology have created numerous tools and applications that improve productivity through automation and are a great way to streamline many business operations.
- Cloud computing is an increasingly popular option for business because it is safe, secure, convenient and scalable. Cloud technology is adaptable to any size enterprise and provides a level-ground for small businesses to compete with much larger ones.
- Enterprise Resource Planning or Software as a Service systems help businesses to create a solid infrastructure while maintaining operational continuity. There are numerous platforms covering areas of the business such as sales, inventory control and accounting.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps streamline and automate such activities as customer service, contract management, email marketing and social media. CRM helps to personalise marketing messages to each individual client.
- Optimise inventory control by utilising inventory management tools that provide real-time updates and analytics to manage inventory from anywhere, at any time. Inventory management software connects directly to point of sale sites, so that inventory stock levels are automatically adjusted each time a sale is made.
- Document management systems function as digital filing cabinets, providing efficient storage and retrieval of documents. While central servers deliver daily backup of important records, long term storage and archival functions.
It’s common for manufacturing to outsource various components of production to achieve a significant decrease in assembly costs. There are however, other functional areas of business that can be successfully outsourced such as information technology, marketing, accounting and human resources.
Managing employees can be a time-consuming endeavour for small business owners and technology can help simplify the process of maintaining accurate employee records, tracking hours worked, managing payroll, leave entitlements and reporting employment taxes.
Technology however, is no replacement for the hands-on personal component necessary for effective human resource management. Recruitment agencies and HR consultants can be contracted to manage staff employment, training and where necessary, termination.
While cutting your costs, can help deliver larger profits and build a strong foundation for the future, the success of any new process or strategy will often be influenced by how your stakeholders respond to any changes. Therefore, it is important, before implementing new activities to understand how each new approach will impact your customers, suppliers and employees.
Correct planning and evaluation will play a significant role in the success of any actions undertaken to streamline your business.
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.