In small business, profit margins can be extremely tight. As a result, it is imperative that owners explore every possible way to reduce overhead and increase efficiency. In this article, I will outline five ways that you can make your business better, without spending a dime.
As the old saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” but in today’s highly competitive technology market, that isn’t always the case. A savvy business owner can find a plethora of free programs that will help streamline their business. Some of these include:
Google Docs – https://docs.google.com/ – is available for free. With this program, owners will be able to manage a variety of important tasks ranging from E-Mail, to spreadsheets and beyond.
Inventoria – http://inventoria.en.softonic.com/ – is a free, professional stock management software that gives businesses the tools to keep track of all their inventory. This tool is an invaluable resource for many types of businesses, ranging from a mom and pop boutique, to a large e-commerce site.
Schedulehead –https://schedulehead.com/ – is a free, employee scheduling app that works both on mobile devices and on a desktop. It uses patented intelligent technology to automate your worker schedules, keep track of employee performance and more.
Copper –http://www.softpedia.com/get/Others/Finances-Business/Copper.shtml – is a free cash register POS system that stores product info, discounts and other useful information with the goal of providing a more efficient customer checkout.
Meetings and Conference calls can be some of the most ineffective ways to communicate with your employees. Often, employers feel that these outdated traditions are the only way for things to get done. Sometimes, that’s true, but having meetings for the wrong reasons, or when they are not absolutely necessary, can destroy productivity.
For example, let’s say you need to have your employees sign a time-clock policy sheet. You know there will be questions, so you might think the easiest way to handle it is in a face-to-face meeting where all the concerns can be aired. Rather than taking time away from every employee in the company for a meeting, why not have one employee create a .pdf filled with all of the information and a FAQ section, and a document that can be electronically signed? That way, only the employees who still have questions will use any more time.
Most small business owners are in possession of a very particular type of personality. They absolutely believe (whether it is true or not) that they are the sole person standing between the success and failure of the business. As a result, every time anything bad happens they immediately spring into action, get in the fire line next to their employees and start pitching buckets.
This can be a mistake, and here’s why:
- It can undermine your authority. Many employees appreciate the Boss occasionally rolling up his or her sleeves and getting in the trenches with them. That’s something that most people would recommend you do. But when an employee feels as though you are micromanaging, or trying to do their job for them, they will almost always resent you for it.
- It takes a significant amount of your time. If every time something happens in your business, you leave your desk (physically or mentally) then how do you expect to make the right major decisions for the direction of your company, find more clients, or expand into new markets?
So be the Dictator and find employees who you trust to do the job correctly when it is delegated to them.
This is such a simple concept, and yet, so many business owners fail to actively do it. You need to ask yourself, what are your employees really spending their time on? Are they completing projects on a daily basis? Or are they sitting around on Facebook and Twitter? Maybe they are just pretending to work, while you pay them tons of money and watch your business go down the tubes (I hope not). The point is, you have every right to expect results and you have a right to see them personally.
One good way to do this without further wasting time, is to ask for a wrap up email from your key employees at the end of each day. Just ask for a few sentences about what they did for the day and what they plan to work on the next day. Not only is this a good way to hold them accountable, but it helps them solidify their goals for themselves. By forcing them to make it clear to you, it also becomes more clear to them, and will help keep them focused during the work week.
Successful business owners often have different ideas about what the most important expenditures are for their business. But for the ones that I know, they believe that the most important aspect of their business is their employees. They focus most on building a good team, retaining that team and growing that team in such a way that not only is everyone happy, but they are also productive. Remember, you are only as strong as the people around you.
Keep in mind when you are hiring, that you usually get what you pay for. By offering sub-standard salaries, you might alienate the best candidates or turn a potentially great employee, into one that is unmotivated. Unmotivated employees will only accomplish half the work of motivated ones. So don’t be afraid to offer a little more money. In the end it will cost less than hiring another person to do the other half.