Running a small business is a daunting task, especially if it’s your first. Knowing where your time and energy is best directed is a tough call to make.
Much of the advice around business improvement revolves around large and medium-sized companies, with large scale changes for specific departments. This is why we’ve put together our list of small business improvement ideas that you can implement today.
Small Business Improvement Ideas
1. Create a Business “Toolbox”
A business toolbox is just a creative way of saying all the important documents you should need to run your business. It doesn’t need to be a literal toolbox… unless you’re in the plumbing industry.
Your business toolbox should include your business plan or strategy. You should be regularly referring to this to keep on track and avoid getting caught up in day-to-day operations. It should similarly include your marketing plan.
Your employee manual should be in there, as well as available to your employees to give clear guidance.
You should also have accounting software in there, so you can get up to date financial reports on your business, allowing you to keep on top of your finances. Similarly, any other reporting software should be in there too.
All these allow you to refer back to the “big picture”, when the day-to-day tasks are piling up. Having these documents and software ensures you can take a step back to look at long-term goals and visions.
2. Use Task Management Software
Email isn’t dead, in fact in workplaces it can often feel like we spend half our day writing emails. There’s a place for email within the office, but task management software is often the better option for coherent collaboration.
Software like this allows teams to work together more efficiently. As the progress is tracked in a shared space, there’s less need for emails back and forth throughout the day.
There’s both paid for software and free software for collaboration. Google Suite offers plenty of shared document types for collaboration for teams, and Trello is similarly free to use initially. Popular paid options with advanced features include Asana, Microsoft Projects and Jira.
3. Automate Tasks
Automation is a necessity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Every company, big and small, are doing it.
This is all to say, automate whatever tasks you can. Whether that’s sending out employee payslips or invoices to clients. It’s initially expensive investing in automation but it will save your business valuable time and money in the long run. Your employees are freed up to do more productive and creative tasks that require a human touch.
4. Promote Communication
Do your employees feel comfortable enough to give their honest feedback on how projects are going? Or are they just nodding along because they don’t want to rock the boat?
Encouraging your employees to voice their concerns and opinions can give you valuable insight into the way your business is run. It could reveal bottlenecks you weren’t aware of as you don’t focus on that department enough. It could reveal opportunities to grow through innovative ideas.
Honest feedback is one of the best ways to improve business efficiency, as well as communication between departments. If everyone is on the same page, you’ll have more productive and efficient teams.
5. Stay up to Date
The digital world just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It can feel impossible to keep up with what’s happening in your industry and indeed who’s talking about you or your products.
We’d recommend setting up Google Alerts to help you keep up to date. They’re easy to set up, just choose what keywords you want to be notified about and you’ll have a report emailed to you every time it’s mentioned.
We’d suggest setting up Google Alerts for your business name at the very least. This is so you can be aware of what’s being said about your business online, positive and negative. It gives you opportunities to share good press and respond to any negative mentions.
You can also set up alerts to stay up to date with wider industry news. This could be alerts for products or services you sell so you can watch what the competition is doing, as well as for wider industry keywords.
6. Leverage Local
Closely related as it’s another Google product, if you predominantly want local business, make sure you’re signed up for a Google My Business account. They’re free to use and an incredible tool for local businesses to appear high up in the search rankings.
Keep your information up to date, like your phone number, opening hours and description to make it easy for your customers to find and contact you.
7. Strong Cybersecurity
It might seem a little odd to be discussing cybersecurity in a small business improvement ideas guide. But it’s a pressing problem for many small businesses.
If you exist in the digital space, you need strong cybersecurity. This has never been more true than in the last year when working has increasingly moved towards remote or agile arrangements. Don’t believe us? Here’s the shocking small business cybersecurity statistics:
- The average cost of an insider-related cyber incident for small businesses is $7.68 million
- 43% of small businesses lack any type of cybersecurity defense plans
- 63% of small businesses report experiencing a data breach within the last year
- 70% of small businesses employees passwords were stolen or lost
- 22% of small businesses changed to remote work without a cybersecurity threat prevention plan
All this is to say, cybersecurity should be at the forefront of your mind for your business. Small businesses are big business for cyber criminals. Strengthen your security infrastructure and train your employees on best practices to avoid common attacks.
8. Be Less Transactional
We’ve written about being less transactional quite a bit. But in this instance, we’re talking about your online interactions.
You shouldn’t be using your online presence, like on social media, to sell, sell, sell. It’s a guaranteed way to turn off your potential audience. Building a relationship with your audience will be far more profitable for your business in the long run.
You can do this through providing valuable content. Whether that’s to entertain or educate, but either way it shouldn’t be a never ending stream of promos for your services or products.
Doing this builds your trust and authority as a brand. So when a potential customer is ready to make a purchase, they can use a brand they know and trust — your business.
9. Make Meetings Productive
Meetings are a necessary part of any business. They allow for communication between departments, as well as keeping you in the loop of the various goings on of your small business.
But sometimes, meetings can be the death of productivity. For example, let’s say you start the day at 9am with a staff meeting. This goes on for half an hour, then one of your departments has another meeting at 10 that runs for another 45 minutes. Then they’ve got lunch from around 12, and just like that your morning has disappeared. Your employees have spent most of their morning either waiting for or being in meetings, instead of being able to get on with their work.
All this is to say, meetings have a purpose, but keep them on track and don’t overload your employees with meetings all day. These interruptions will stop your staff from completing their work efficiently.
So if you want a staff meeting every morning, great, but keep it to 10 minutes. Additionally, when you need longer departmental meetings, try to schedule them all for the same day, so the rest of the week your employees’ schedules are clear to get on with their work uninterrupted.
We know that running a small business is incredibly hard work. This isn’t to say it's not wonderful to be your own boss and do what you’re passionate about every day, but if you keep at it non-stop, you’re bound to burn out at some point. You’re only human.
Sometimes the best way to get a clear head and come up with fresh small business improvement ideas is to take a step back. Whether that’s just a few days off at home, or to take a holiday, let your brain and body rest regularly to ensure your passion for your business continues long-term.
Awardaroo Small Business Coaching
If you’re struggling with long-term vision for your business and stuck on small business improvement ideas, Awardaroo can help. We’re business productivity experts and help coach small businesses across various industries. Just get in touch for a free small business consultation.