Boosting The Output Of Your Small Business
Entrepreneurs quickly learn the old saying about success being 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration is very true. Hard work is the foundation of any successful operation, and when you first look into how to start a small business, you quickly realise that you have to become a master of many trades, from customer service to marketing to financials – on top of the core part of what you do. So pretty quickly you become a productivity ninja, finding ways to do more for less, and it all becomes second nature. But what happens when you grow your business enough to take on staff? Are there ways to help optimise their productivity and therefore grow your bottom line, without alienating people?
Increasingly, employees are valuing flexibility in a workplace more than any other factors – in fact, with many of the top tech disruptors embracing ultra-flexible ways of working, it’s rapidly becoming a hygiene factor for any successful company. Long gone are the days of a rigid nine to five with no variations. It may seem counterintuitive to some to allow more unusual working patterns, but in fact it can drive up productivity, retention rates and staff loyalty. Allowing workers to adapt to their own rhythms means that you benefit from them being able to use their peak energy on the most difficult tasks. So if you have a natural night owl on the team, don’t fight it. Supply flexible resources which allow people to choose their own optimal working patterns, and monitor output on a project basis instead of going by the clock. The truth is that people work at different rates and in different ways – and having a diverse team which embraces individual differences is having a strong team.
We live in changing times, and businesses which are slow to adapt don’t always survive. Both threats and opportunities abound in a global marketplace, so agility is a key concept which can drive growth and higher revenues. Being able to serve varying market needs can become a significant competitive advantage. The key concept is to create teams which are empowered to work across different aspects of your business. Recognise that organised doesn’t have to mean rigid. When teams effectively run themselves, they can become more receptive to change. The dynamic within these project teams is energising, as the focus is kept firmly on achievable stretches of activity with a clear outcome, rather than endless repetition in pursuit of a vast, unrelatable goal. Empower your teams by moving towards collaborative software such as Slack or Trello, which give universal visibility on tasks and progress.
Your workplace is the sum of its culture, and this can be a tool to motivate workers and boost their productivity in an organic manner. No one should be dreading coming in on Monday, or there is clearly a failing in the work culture. Moving away from a hierarchical bureaucracy is essential. It improves communication pathways between employer and employee, and lets everyone buy into a shared vision and values for the organisation. Involve all employees in the creation of a culture through sharing ideas and trying out new suggestions. Giving people a sense of ownership and autonomy can go a huge way towards making them feel fired up about what they’re doing.
“Being agile is energising as it keeps the focus on achievable sprints of focused activity rather than repetitive boring tasks or targets that always seem unreachable. Crucially, everyone in our business has visibility of tasks and progress that’s being made, using a kanban board.
“We also have an annual ‘innovation week’: a hackathon that gets the whole team away from client work and building something fun, interesting and challenging.”