Five Steps to Small Business Operational Efficiency

OperationalEfficiencyGet Efficient. Get Stable.

For a small business, operational efficiency is crucial to long-term stability. As an entrepreneur, your business operation may consist of you, clad in sweatpants, sitting alone on your sofa with a laptop for 12 hours a day. This scenario is great in the early days of your business.

However, you business can go from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye. If you’ve failed to implement operational efficiency services into your business plan early on, you won’t have the resources to manage everything when your company takes off. You will be on the fast track to burning out and your business will be on the path to implosion.

Here are a few business operations investments you should implement now.

Accounting.

About five minutes after you make the decision to start a business, you need to line up a good accountant.

No really. It’s that important.

Running a small business is a lot of work, a lot of detailed work. No detail is more crucial or complex than accounting details.  Don’t wait until tax time to get accounting advice from an experienced, highly recommended professional. This is one area where you can’t afford to cut corners. The investment you make in a good accountant easily pays for itself in tax savings, refunds or lack of fines that occur as a result of not knowing what you’re doing.

If you don’t have a good accountant, ask other small business owners for a referral or check with the Better Business Bureau.

Also, invest in small business accounting software and keep track of all business expenses and revenue. Keep hard copies of your receipts in a file folder. Stay organized. Good money management is vital to your small business operational efficiency.

Website.

Your website is an essential marketing tool. As consumers become more dependent on the internet for researching and making purchases, having a well-crafted website will only increase in importance. Content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla and the dozens of other options on the market today make it easy for you to create and manage your business website.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for outside help.

There are many factors that go into creating an effective business website, including marketing tactics, search engine optimization (SEO) and ecommerce. The best websites are constantly updated with fresh, compelling content that adds value to the consumer. All of this takes time. Yes, you can learn to do all of this yourself, but remember, website development and content creation are really full time jobs. You already have one of those – running your business.  Invest in a professional website designer and content creator so that you can focus developing your business.

Writing

This is an extension of having a great website, as mentioned above. A freelance writer can provide you with many of the same benefits as a freelance website designer.  Make sure the person you hire to help you create content for your website or other promotional items has a working knowledge of your product and your industry. Make sure you provide them with all of the information that they need to properly spin your business story to the masses.

A good business writer can help you increase sales and grow your business by providing professional SEO website content, promotional copy, press releases and completed grant applications, all items a business start-up needs. Again, you can spend your own time learning how to write your own content and seeing what happens or you can trust a proven professional and enjoy a better return on your investment.

C-leveled offers both website and content services, so check out our c-creative section for more information on compelling content and design.

Education.

Entrepreneurs should never stop learning. You wear many hats and, chances are, the only part of your business that you know how to do well is produce the product or service that you are selling. Unless you also have a long history in sales, operations, technology, design, marketing, finance and management, there are probably a lot of aspects of running a business that you don’t know.

Let’s just be honest, one person cannot know or do everything.

It is a good idea to get a basic grasp of business operations by taking a few classes.  Many community colleges offer classes in small business administration, as do many local small business administration branches or economic development offices.

If attending classes isn’t your thing, there are many books on the subject, including this one from The Learning Annex or small business blogs such as the one operated by The New York Times. You can also do an internet search for webinars and teleconferences on small business operational efficiency.

Administrative Help.

In the early days, you will likely spend more time on the administrative aspects of building a business than on actually creating product and working with customers. However, as soon as business starts to pick up, your focus needs to be on producing the best quality product possible and giving excellent customer service. These organizational priorities should never fall victim to bookkeeping, billing or day-to-day marketing tasks.

For this reason, one of the best investments you can make in operational efficiency is hiring a part-time or virtual assistant who can take care of more mundane tasks while you concentrate on achieving your business dreams.

Remember that just because you are entrepreneur, you don’t have to do everything yourself.  Hiring outside help is one of the best ways to build a strong and stable business.

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