Business improvements, how do you choose what to do first?
New Year’s Resolution time. Ok so it’s not the calendar year end, but there’s no reason why the end of financial year can’t provide the trigger for you to make some improvements to your business. Or, more specifically, one improvement. What if you could pick one thing in your business that you’d like to change? Which area would you choose? Which element of your business gives you the most stress? If time and money were unrestricted, what would you do? We haven’t got an answer but we’ve done a little research on which areas of your business might benefit most from your attention.
No matter how successful, every business has areas that could use some attention. It could be the way you’re doing your marketing, it could be your sales department, it could be customer service, or improving your finance function. Deciding which one to work on means projecting which one will, once improved, give you the most benefit. Remember, benefit may not be obviously financial. It could mean your people are happier or more productive, or more of your customers become raving fans. Of course, happy staff and customers will translate to more sales and better service, but the financial benefits are not always immediately obvious, and that makes your decision a tough one.
Make sure the problem you’re trying to fix, is actually the main problem.
Ben Simkin, writing on BusinessNET in 2014 suggests that its common for business owners to believe they’ve identified a problem within their business, only to solve it and find there’s another underlying issue they weren’t aware of1. It’s also common to discover the problem you think you’re having is merely a symptom of another, larger issue. He gives the example of a business who thought their marketing plan wasn’t working. When they took time to investigate further, they found their sales staff were stressed and spending too much time on admin to perform their sales tasks well.
This brings us to an interesting point. Maybe working on keeping your people happy and productive will reap the most benefits?
If you could pick one thing, perhaps it’s your people?
A 2015 article by Eric Sui in Entrepreneur highlights the area most business owners would focus on if given the chance. Staff. Employees. The team.
Keeping your employees happy, well rewarded and motivated is a challenge that businesses of all sizes find challenging. Eric refers to a survey undertaken by TINYhr which asked employees what THEY would change in their company, given the chance. The biggest group, 15% said they’d improve communications, 10% said they’d improve empathy and people skills and 8% wanted to increase wages. And a substantial 11% wanted their boss fired or gone2. This is most confronting for business owners, knowing that there’s a strong possibility they are the reason their employees are unhappy at work.
There’s no doubt investing in happy employees is worth it, the benefits to productivity are clear. If you’re going to make just one change to your business, you might find focussing on your people brings significant benefits. Based on the survey, start with a good hard (honest) look at business culture, the way employees are treated and the quality of internal communications.
Make the thing you’re best at, even better
Susan Payton, writing in early 2017, takes an unusual approach to business improvement. Payton says rather than selecting an area to change, take your business’ unique selling point (USP) and work hard to absolutely nail it3. Your USP is the way you delight your customers, it could be your amazing speed of service, or the outstanding quality of your product. Whatever your business excels at, take the opportunity to give it some extra attention. Take the idea of surprising and delighting your customers a step further.
Be good at change
David Sturt, writing for Forbes Magazine in 2014 has another interesting perspective. He says rather than improving various parts of your business, and making changes across departments to implement these improvements, you should simply prepare your business and its people for the fact that change is inevitable4. He says that technology is changing so quickly, he finds it amazing that many jobs are advertised with just 7 or 8 bullet points (often recycled through several employees) and new team members aren’t encouraged more often to be innovative about the way their job is done.
Think of the benefits. Actively asking your staff to improve the way they do their job, gives them power and authority and increased motivation. Your business will benefit from motivated staff and the improvements they make to how they perform their tasks, processes and meet their goals.
Spend your time wisely and watch your business improve
For small and medium businesses owners, taking one area of your business at a time and making improvements makes a lot of sense. You simply don’t have the time to spend making intense improvements on every aspect of your operation. Choosing the area that will most benefit from improvement means you can focus your time and attention (and money) where you’ll reap the best rewards. Many organisations find paying more attention to their people is a clever and rewarding way to make improvements. As part of this, encouraging people to expect change and even initiate it themselves as part as continuous job improvement can be a positive way to encourage your people to take control of creating their own perfect role.
If you’d like some advice or direction on smart, practical ways to improve your business, contact the team at Modoras on 1300 888 803.
Over to you
How do you decide which areas of your business to work on? Do you know where your help is needed?
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BusinessNET- Ben Simkin, Oct 2014. Business Problems: Be careful which problem you’re trying to fix
Entrepreneur- Eric Sui, Feb 2015. What’s The Number 1 Thing Employees Would Change If They Were The Boss
Forbes – Susan Payton, Jan 2017. Take One Thing In Your Business and Do It Better This Year
Forbes – David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom, Oct 2014. Update Your Expectations: The One Thing In Business That Needs To Change
This article is published by Modoras Pty Ltd ABN 86068034908 AFS and Credit License No. 233209. This article contains general information only and is not intended to represent specific personal advice (Accounting, taxation, financial or credit). No individual personal circumstances have been taken into consideration for the preparation of this material. It is recommended that you obtain your own personal professional advice before making any financial or business decision.