Ever seen the circus trick with the many different plates balanced precariously on high sticks? A clown rushes around the wobbling plates trying to keep them all spinning and avoid the inevitable crash… such is a lot of the small business owner or start-up entrepreneur: life is busy – if not to say chaotic at times. And it’s hard to keep all those plates spinning.
Business Optimizer explores the most effective tips for small business owners.
It’s important to know exactly what your strengths are and be honest about the strengths of your team if you are going to plan and delegate effectively. Know where you add value; what can be automated; and what can be outsourced.
Planning strategy, time and resources is absolutely vital. And yet planning is often relegated beneath day-to-day operational firefighting. You’ll never stop firefighting if you don’t make time to plan – so make time. As well as a strategic business plan (what your ambition is and how you’re going to achieve it), plan tactically on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly bases.
Many managers don’t realise they are hoarding work, but stretching yourself too thin isn’t sustainable in the long term. Your goal should be to offload as much as possible, so you can focus on where you really add value. The key to successful delegation is learning to let go to a certain extent; understand that tasks won’t be completed exactly as you would do them – and that’s ok.
Automation is simply another way to delegate; except you’re guaranteed a very specific and replicable outcome. If you can automate a process, find the technology to help you do so – and automate it as soon as you can.
It’s possible to access an incredibly broad selection of professional talent on freelance sites such as PeoplePerHour and Upwork. They enable you to hire freelancers to get specific tasks completed fast. Take advantage of the ever-growing gig economy, put off expensive hiring until it is absolutely necessary and augment your team with the skills you need as you need them.
For a happy, healthy, inspired and productive workforce, you need to invest in the people you do hire. Studies show that a good working environment, regular breaks during the working day, generous holiday leave and flexible working practices can all help to increase productivity and creativity – as well as helping you to avoid burnout, and high staff turnover rates. Investing in people isn’t just the right thing to do – it pays off in the long term too.
We rely so heavily on technology these days, that it is vital to understand essential cyber security best practice. This means having disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, following password best practice, and keeping operating systems and software up to date with the latest upgrades and patches. It’s also important to plan in advance how you need to respond if you are the victim of a breach. The UK Government’s Cyber Essentials training scheme is a great place to start.
Help your team be more productive too: read these 12 tips for improving productivity in the workplace.