Small Business Efficiency from Sameness

How achieve business efficiency from managing your time and your employees' time

 

One of the small business owner's greatest challenges and most important resources is the scarcity and management of time for the owner, the managers and employees. While the scarcity will remain a constant  there are tactics to ensure hours on hand are maximized to the fullest,

Maximize operational flow by doing like tasks together

 

  • Operational flow efficiency is achieved when employees do the same task over and over and learn how to specialize in a certain behavior.
  • Large corporations often structure roles to take advantage of this, but it can be difficult to do in a smaller company where the business owner and employees must wear many hats.
  • To create an environment conducive to repetitive efficiencies, structure your time in blocks of hours that are dedicated for specific tasks that are similar in nature, allowing you to focus and improve operational flow.
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The sales rep making hundreds of calls a week. The company accountant managing cash flow on a daily basis. The factory technician that maintains machines several times a week. What do all of these very different jobs have in common? Operational flow.

Operational flow

Or efficiency in daily operations – stems from doing a repetitive task over and over, and learning through repetition to do it well. Every single person has the ability to do this. Think about your morning routine, for example. You likely could do it with your eyes closed. It’s so ingrained that it’s almost like muscle memory; you barely even need to think about it.

Employees who specialize in certain tasks can leverage that same efficiency with their work. (In fact, this realization was one of the main drivers of the Industrial Revolution.) And companies who learn to cultivate and leverage this ability are rewarded in productivity.

That’s why large corporations often structure their positions to allow employees to specialize – they want each person to become very, very good at turning whatever cog in the machine they control.

Unfortunately, the luxury of specialization is not available to most of us running a small or medium sized business. At a smaller company, every employee must wear many hats throughout the day to keep operations running smoothly. There simply are not enough resources to allow every employee to focus on one task.

So how does the business owner that wears many hats create operational flow? The answer is in time management. You may not be able to focus on doing just one task, or one type of task, all day, every day. But you can focus on doing the same thing for a couple of hours.

To bring more efficiency into your schedule, structure your time in blocks of hours designated for specific sets of like tasks. For example, Friday mornings can be spent making calls to schedule business development meetings for the next several weeks.

Tuesday afternoons may be set aside for sales and marketing endeavors. Consider blocking out the first and last hours of your day to respond to email, and closing down your inbox in between to increase productivity.

Time is wasted when we constantly switch gears, never allowing our minds to settle into a rhythm and use the effortlessness of repetitive tasking to our advantage. By blocking out time to do one particular task, you’ll free yourself up to truly focus and eliminate the loss of energy that happens when you jump from one thing to another.

Give yourself the time and freedom to accomplish a particular goal, and you’ll be surprised how often those goals get achieved.

Additional articles on productivity:

Productivity Means Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Adding a New Employee Worth the Expense?

4 Simple Steps to Avoid being overwhelmed

 

About the author

Alex Hart

Alexander J. Hart of Cuban American decent is principal and founder of Hart Vida Raffo. With over 25 years of experience, Alex specializes in the areas of tax strategy and planning, business process improvement, and capital consulting. Whether advising on capital and financing strategy or consulting for privately-held professional services firms, Alex has the expertise and practical know-how to help any company optimize their business processes and make tactical financial decisions. He began his career at IBM in sales operations and accounting. He was a Controller for the N.Y. Post, has been a CFO for a medical device company, and has written a tax column called “Ask the Tax Guys” for Micro-Cap Review. Alex is a professional member of A.L.T.A. (Affiliated Lawyers of the Americas), a member of the National Association of Tax Preparers, and is a contributing author and mentor at Latin Business Today. Alex graduated from St. John’s University with a B.A. in Spanish and his M.B.A. in Finance. He obtained his accounting degree from Pace University.

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