How Small Businesses Can Be More Productive On a Tight Budget
Small businesses typically have less manpower to achieve their objectives, so it’s even more important that these businesses — and their employees — stay productive with their time and resources. While budget limitations may appear to be a major productivity obstacle, there are countless strategies that small businesses can implement to boost productivity on even the tightest budget.
Make information readily available.
Ensure employees always have access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. This will eliminate any time and frustration that employees spend searching, trying to access, or tracking down current information. Here are a few ideas that can improve productivity on a daily basis:
- Use cloud-based apps that make documents and information accessible anytime, such as DropBox, Google Drive, and Nitro’s browser-based productivity features.
- Create a knowledge base accessible to all employees
- Have a streamlined process and easy-to-navigate place to store historical business information
- Set up communication channels, such as chat, to allow employees to quickly share information
Utilize online tools.
There are plenty of free, or very affordable, online tools specifically designed to help small businesses be more efficient. Inc.com’s “12 Cool Web Tools for Small Businesses” highlights a few productivity-enhancing tools, and you can check out Entrepreneur’s list, which features free tools like Hootsuite to manage your social media, and Slack for chatting among teams. It is also important to choose online tools that integrate with what you are currently using. By doing this, users will be able to maneuver between tools easily and without disruption.
Use meeting time wisely.
Many businesses can easily fall into a pattern of calling meetings for everything — even if the matter can be handled via email. Gloria Mark, of UC Irvine, found that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to your original task after you’ve been interrupted…that’s a lot of time that could be spent working instead!
While it’s crucial to assess if a meeting is truly necessary, it’s also important to ensure the meetings that do happen are actually productive. To save time and improve meeting efficiency, you can:
- Have a mandatory meeting-free day once a week
- Go through your meeting calendar, and cancel anything that can be addressed with a quick email
- Limit your meetings to 30 minutes
- Encourage meeting attendees (and yourself!) to leave the phones and laptops behind unless they’re needed to accomplish a specific task
- End every meeting with action items so everyone has a clearly outlined next step
Small business owners often have difficulty with delegation and can tend to tackle more than they can handle. Yet delegation is an essential way to enhance productivity, giving leaders more time to focus on big-picture initiatives and keeping employees more engaged and involved. Leaders should begin by writing a short list of top priorities and projects that demand their attention, then delegate the remaining tasks to their teams. It may seem scary at first, but establishing this culture of trust will help keep your teams motivated — and your leadership from burning out.
Focus on employee satisfaction.
There is a wealth of evidence to support that happy employees are also some of the most productive. Great news considering that driving employee satisfaction often comes at no cost to the employer. Here are a few ways to boost the employee experience, at no cost to the company:
- Create a good work-life balance: Promote a healthy, flexible a work environment and encourage employees to use their vacation.
- Be transparent: Make your employees feel included and invested by openly and honestly communicating what’s going on with the business — from company and department goals to sales numbers and growth strategy.
- Recognize hard work and achievements: When budgets are tight, rewards don’t always have to come in the form of bonuses and raises. Something as simple as acknowledging individuals during team meetings can go a long way in making employees feel valued and appreciated.
For more information on how to improve your productivity with Nitro, check out:
Originally published at blog.gonitro.com on January 25, 2017.