5 Small Ways To Do More With Less

One way to improve your bottom line is to increase efficiency. That means getting more mileage out of the same (or fewer) resources. Some business owners look for that one big thing to become more efficient. But often it’s the smaller changes that together add up to bigger savings. Here are five smaller ways to help you do more with less. In a year when businesses are squeezed for resources, see if they might add up to an improved bottom line.

Know Your BMI (Business Mass Index)

Inefficiency is the “fat” of businesses. So to get fit, you need to know how lean your business is. That’s why it’s important to have measurements in place to identify inefficiencies. Start with your key performance indicators. These are the essential drivers of your bottom line.

Say one of your indicators is the number of repeat sales from online customers. A beginning measurement might be to look at the response you get from emails targeting this group. If the measurement goes down, ask yourself, “What’s getting in the way of achieving that goal?” The answer will help you address this inefficiency. The key is to regularly review key measurements like this.

Delegate the small stuff.

Think about how you spend your time. Are you working in or running your business? Owners need time for their strategic responsibilities. Delegating the day-to-day tasks helps you be more efficient with time. That frees you to focus on these higher-value activities.

Delegation can take several forms. If you have staff, they can perform selected tasks that you do now. It frees your time and helps them develop new skills. That can be a big motivator for employees. But even if you have no staff, you can outsource some functions, especially those areas where you have the least skill. For example, some businesses outsource the management of their Wi-Fi network.

Let tech work its magic.

In today’s world, there’s an app for almost anything. And if there isn’t, one is coming soon. Productivity apps are designed to help small businesses reduce the time it takes for them to do everyday tasks.

For example, it’s labor intensive to record and catalog your business expenses for tax purposes. Expense tracking apps help you do it with less effort. Just snap a picture of your receipt using your phone. It automatically scans to find the amount and type of expense, then records it in a spreadsheet that you can email to your accountant. No more shoeboxes of receipts. Here’s Business News Daily’s top 10 review of expense trackers.

Focus on eliminating or reducing interruptions.

A University of California study reports it takes people 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from a distraction and get back on task. Multiply that by the number of times you’re interrupted in a day and you’ve racked up a significant block of inefficiency.

One way to combat that is simple time management. For example, how often do you check emails? One source says nearly half check it 6-20 times a day, each time interrupting your work flow. By scheduling email time, you limit those distractions. Another idea is to turn off sound notifications every time you get an email. That eliminates the temptation to constantly check your email.

Tap your network for ideas.

Sometimes you have to step outside to get a better look at what’s inside your business. Your fellow small business owners can help you do that. Many have encountered (and solved) a similar problem and can let you in on best practices. Groups like your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE offer networking opportunities to help tap this knowledge.

Don’t forget two of your best networks, your employees and customers. Both groups know your business better than anyone. So ask them where you could be doing things better. Some businesses create incentive programs that reward people for money-saving ideas.

Efficiency is often achieved in steps, not bounds. Look for incremental ways to do more with less. Consider whether these ideas might be a place to start.