Simplify Your Business – 10 Tips for a Simpler and More Profitable Business
If I had a dollar for every time a business owner or staff member said to me, “I wish things were simpler”, I would be a multi-millionaire.
Unfortunately, I’m not, but it amazes me how many businesses are so complicated these days with policies and procedures that are pages long, using very few flowcharts, and letters to clients with so many unnecessary and complicated words and phrases. And we wonder why clients and staff are so confused, interpret things differently, aren’t sure of their roles and responsibilities, and in the end, may even choose to go with a competitor.
So why is this? When all we want is to do things simply and quickly. And by simple I don’t mean ‘dumbing it down’, because it actually takes a lot of time and effort to write instructions or information for clients and staff that can be quickly and easily understood.
Usually businesses don’t spend the time or effort developing a simple, yet profitable business. Why? The most common excuses are: “I don’t have time”, “We’re doing fine without all that stuff”, or “Why spend time training staff… they only leave.”
So do you really want a more profitable business? Because to get it, you have to invest time, money, effort and be willing to make some changes. If you don’t want to do this, stop reading now.
For the few people still reading, here are ten tips for an even better business:
1. Check your hourly rates.
Make sure they cover all business costs, professional indemnity (including run-off) and profit!
2. Track and compare jobs.
You should track actual hours on every job and compare budget hours versus actual hours to ensure each job makes a profit.
3. Develop a ‘what if’ strategy.
Prepare a ‘what if’ strategy to determine who will do the work, answer the phones, respond to emails, process the staff pays, meet clients and prepare quotes if you get sick or go on holidays (yes, business owners also need four weeks holiday per year to recharge).
During this process, you need to assess the sustainability of your business. For example, what if your best employee left, you got sick, your administration/payroll officer resigned or you lost your best client? Prepare for the worst!
4. Put your policies and procedures in writing.
If you don’t already have your policies and procedures in writing, take the time to write them – if the knowledge is all in your head, then your business is at risk and will be very difficult to sell when and if the need arises.
Write them simply using flowcharts, and develop forms and checklists to minimise rework and maintain quality standards. Once your policies and procedures are written down, you should review them regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and correct.
5. Communicate with your clients.
Develop a ‘what happens now’ letter or brochure so your clients know what to expect at each stage of the project and write it in clear, concise language with little or no building jargon or acronyms.
6. Improve your time management.
Block out time in your diary each week for meetings with clients, meetings with staff, marketing, finances, business improvement and innovation, and quotes and gaining new clients.
7. Improve your cash flow.
Invoice clients as soon as the work is completed. Don’t work for clients with outstanding accounts, and develop and enforce an overdue account procedure.
8. Plan regular training for you and your staff
And support the training with written manuals/notes.
9. Review your physical files.
Review and shred old/unnecessary info, scan paperwork instead of keeping it (unless required by legislation) and archive old files in plastic containers and store securely.
10. Clean out your electronic files.
Delete old emails and documents, and archive previous client information and store back-ups off site.
So will you continue to procrastinate? Or will you implement the above tips, and clear your clutter and deadwood for a simpler and more profitable business?
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