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21 Practical Tips To Increase Productivity Of Small Businesses

Improve Productivity

There exists a handful of small business productivity advice on the internet, and it feels like wading through an overflowing sea of opinions. Everyone’s got a solution, but which ones genuinely work for you?

Below, we’ve meticulously organised and categorised the best 21 tried-and-tested tips to increase the productivity of small businesses.

Feel free to jump straight to the categories that pique your interest using the convenient table of contents.

  1. Task Management and Efficiency
  2. Goal Setting and Management
  3. Workplace culture and Employee Well-being
  4. Communication and Collaboration

 

Task Management and Efficiency

Task Management and Efficiency are the bedrock of any successful small business. It’s not about doing more but doing smarter. This section unveils practical strategies for unlocking efficiency in the day-to-day operations of small businesses.

 

1. Prioritise your Tasks

Task prioritisation is vital for small business owners amidst the flurry of daily responsibilities. Engaging in non-critical chores can lead to procrastination, affecting the business’s capabilities and hindering progress. 

Distinctly identifying urgent tasks stands paramount to sustaining business momentum. Crafting a comprehensive list enables pinpointing critical tasks, like ensuring timely supplier payments for uninterrupted operations.

Effective prioritisation isn’t merely about managing time; it’s a strategic approach vital for optimising workflows and focusing on pivotal areas fostering business growth. 

Leveraging user-friendly tools such as Google Calendar aids in structuring tasks based on their urgency and significance, enhancing overall efficiency and business impact.

 

2. Delegate Less Critical Tasks

Delegating tasks is vital for enhancing productivity, whether steering a solo venture or overseeing a team—be it on-site or remote.

Entrusting tasks to capable hands unleashes the potential for accomplishing more within limited time frames. It fosters an environment where tasks progress seamlessly instead of awaiting personal completion. 

Moreover, outsourcing specialised tasks to domain experts ensures quicker and more efficient outcomes, amplifying overall productivity.

Simpler tasks present an opportunity for delegation, empowering team members to handle diverse responsibilities. For instance, assigning tasks like writing blog posts, email template redesign, or website white paper creation to the marketing team streamlines workflow. It also serves as a platform for less experienced team members to explore and grow in new roles, fostering a culture of skill development within the organisation.

Delegation isn’t solely about offloading tasks; it’s a strategic move aligning skills with responsibilities to drive efficiency and foster skill enhancement among team members.

 

3. Automate Processes Where You Can

In every business, routine manual tasks often consume valuable time despite their critical role in operations, like email marketing or social media campaigns.

Intelligent Process Automation

Source

Embracing automation software triggers a digital revolution within your business framework, unlocking time-saving potentials for you and your team. This digital transformation drives small business productivity, freeing up time once spent on repetitive tasks.

For instance, utilising apps to schedule social media posts in advance or applying templates across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube eliminates the manual posting process, allowing for a more streamlined workflow. This efficient approach saves time and enhances overall content strategy.

When it comes to Instagram, it’s crucial to optimise your posting schedule for maximum visibility. Research suggests that the best time to post on Instagram is on weekdays between 10 AM and 3 PM. By utilising scheduling apps, you can easily plan and automate your Instagram posts during these peak hours, increasing the likelihood of engagement and reach.       

For Facebook, the ideal posting time falls between 9 AM and 3 PM on weekdays. Scheduling tools can be utilised to strategically plan and share content during these optimal periods, ensuring a broader audience reach.

YouTube content creators can also benefit from scheduling uploads during peak times, typically weekdays from 12 PM to 4 PM. Incorporating scheduling features ensures that videos are released at opportune moments, potentially boosting visibility and engagement across the platform.

These advancements in technology not only improve functionality but also enable multitasking, empowering employees to focus on more intricate responsibilities. Moreover, numerous Software as a Service (SaaS) automation tools seamlessly integrate with existing technology architecture, ensuring cost-effective implementation.

Some tasks ripe for automation include:

  • Call routing/voice response menu
  • Invoicing (consider utilising the Billwisely.com AI invoice generator tool)
  • Payroll
  • Data centre backups
  • Marketing
  • Tax calculations
  • Sales automation

 

4. Combine your Tech for Less Toggling

Frequent toggling among numerous apps squanders valuable time and productivity. Struggling with separate communication channels, documents, and messaging apps impedes efficiency, particularly for small businesses. A recent report found that employees use an average of 13 different apps and switch between them over 30 times daily.

Efficient technology should facilitate productivity, not impede it. Consolidating various apps into a unified platform streamlines operations, minimising the need for constant app switching.

Two strategies can significantly reduce toggling:

  • Adopt an all-in-one cloud communications tool that amalgamates various communication channels—business phone, team messaging, and video conferencing—into a single, user-friendly app.
  • Leverage app integrations to merge different work streams. For instance, popular business apps seamlessly integrate with central software like CRM or productivity tools, minimising toggling and optimising productivity.

For instance, integrations like RingCentral with Salesforce and numerous other apps enable smoother workflows, reducing app switching and enhancing small business team productivity.

 

5. Structure your Day in Chunks

Efficient time management is pivotal for small business owners, besieged by diverse tasks and constant interruptions that fracture workflow.

Structuring your day into focused chunks enables concentrated attention on specific tasks for short durations, optimising time and task management and boosting overall productivity.

Dividing the day into half-hour segments dedicated to distinct tasks like:

  • Drafting business documents 
  • Managing emails
  • Updating social media
  • Creating SEO-optimised content
  • Designing ad campaigns.

Implementing this strategy alongside regular breaks fosters productive habits conducive to clearing tasks on your to-do list.

This approach ensures tasks are addressed without distractions, allowing for more focused and efficient work sessions, ultimately leading to task completion and heightened productivity.

 

6. Embrace the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule)

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests that approximately 80% of outcomes come from just 20% of inputs. Embracing this principle in your small business endeavours allows you to pinpoint the critical few—those tasks or efforts yielding the most significant results.

Pareto Principle

Source

 

Identifying and focusing on the vital few tasks within your business that generate the most impact can significantly enhance productivity and outcomes. By discerning these key tasks and dedicating adequate resources and attention to them, you maximise efficiency and yield optimal results.

Implementing the Pareto Principle empowers you to allocate resources, time, and effort judiciously, emphasising tasks or strategies that drive the most substantial outcomes for your small business.

 

7. Implement a Time-blocking Strategy

Implementing a time-blocking strategy is an effective approach to optimise productivity in small business operations. This method involves allocating specific blocks of time to focus on particular tasks or groups of tasks. 

Research indicates that time-blocking can boost productivity by up to 80%, enabling deeper focus on critical activities.

Considering the potential 80% increase in productivity with time-blocking, how can we best identify and allocate blocks of time to optimise our critical activities in the business?

To best utilise this approach, identifying pivotal tasks is key. Begin by cataloguing crucial activities, then prioritise them based on urgency and impact. Next, allocate dedicated time blocks for each task, considering their complexity and the focus they demand. Regularly assess and adjust this schedule to ensure optimal productivity.

By delineating distinct periods dedicated to tasks, you enhance concentration and efficiency, minimising distractions and fostering a deeper focus on essential activities. Time-blocking ensures better task organisation, allowing for more effective utilisation of available time and resources.

This strategy empowers small business owners to manage their schedules effectively, prioritise crucial tasks, and foster a more structured approach to daily workflows, ultimately amplifying productivity and task completion.

 

8. Develop Standardised Processes

Developing standardised processes within a small business framework is crucial for efficiency and consistency. Begin by documenting essential workflows and procedures across various operations.

Start by identifying key tasks and operations critical for business functionality. 

Documenting these processes—such as client onboarding, inventory management, or customer service protocols—ensures clarity and uniformity.

Implementing standardised processes streamlines operations, reducing errors enhancing productivity. Encourage team involvement in refining these processes to ensure they align with evolving business needs.

 

Goal Setting and Management 

Effective goal setting and management serve as the compass guiding small businesses toward success. Setting clear, actionable goals empowers businesses to chart a definitive path forward, fostering direction, motivation, and alignment among team members.

SMART goals

 

1. Create SMART Goals

Creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals is fundamental for small businesses to establish clear, achievable objectives. These criteria offer a structured framework for goal-setting:

  • Specific: Goals should be well-defined and precise, detailing what needs to be accomplished. For instance, instead of a vague objective like ‘improving IT infrastructure,’ a specific goal could entail training an employee over six months to manage IT infrastructure and architecture effectively.
  • Measurable: Goals should include quantifiable metrics or indicators to track progress. This allows businesses to measure their advancements objectively, like increasing sales by a specific percentage or reducing operational costs by a certain amount.
  • Achievable: It is crucial for goals to be achievable and realistic based on the available resources and limitations. Setting realistic expectations ensures that employees remain motivated and confident in reaching the objectives.
  • Realistic: Goals must align with available resources, expertise, and timeframes. Unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and disengagement, whereas realistic goals foster a sense of achievement.
  • Timely: Goals should have a defined timeline, providing a sense of urgency and accountability. A specific timeframe ensures that efforts are focused, and progress is tracked efficiently.

How can SMART goals contribute to refining business direction and enhancing productivity? This framework fosters a culture of clarity, commitment, and accomplishment within a business. These criteria serve as a compass, guiding teams toward actionable objectives while nurturing adaptability in achieving business milestones.

 

2. Monitor, Analyse, and Adjust your Goals

Monitoring, analysing, and adjusting goals is integral for small businesses to ensure they’re on the right path toward achieving desired outcomes. Tracking progress against set objectives, particularly through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), is crucial in gauging employee performance and overall productivity. Key metrics encompass various facets:

 

  • Task time tracking: Time trackers enable insights into time allocation for different responsibilities, pinpointing areas that might require efficiency improvements.
  • Project completion time: Monitoring timelines helps identify potential delays or inefficiencies, facilitating prompt intervention or workflow adjustments.
  • Revenue-per-employee: This metric offers insights into individual contributions to the company’s financial performance.

 

According to Founder of ThriveBetter, Leveraging analytics tools facilitates a deeper understanding of employee workload and task efficiencies. By identifying areas where employees may struggle or tasks that consume more time than usual, businesses can devise strategies and training programs or reallocate resources for enhanced performance.

Regular evaluation not only aids in decision-making but also ensures the alignment of actions with strategic goals. The iterative process of monitoring, analysing, and adjusting empowers businesses to remain agile, responsive, and focused on continuous improvement, fostering sustained productivity and goal realisation.

 

3. Cost and expenses management

Hacking down business expenses ultimately makes more money available for those business operations that are “most crucial” to productivity and performance.

Generally speaking, there are many ways to cut down on business costs, such as maximising tax benefits, adopting cashback credit cards, automating processes, buying refurbished equipment, outsourcing, and lots more. 

For perspective, a business could go paperless in order to reduce expenses and make financial room for digital pens or touchable screens adoption. Similarly, a business could use cashback credit cards for all its business operations. Thereby saving a few cents on every purchase, a few cents that could go into other productive activities like travel, office supplies, or phone bills.

 

4. Learn From Your Team

Learning from your team is an invaluable asset for small businesses aiming to optimise productivity and streamline operations. A study conducted by McKinsey revealed that some employees (3%) believe they have valuable insights into their industry, department, or organisation.

 

Learn from your team

Engaging in open dialogue with your team members enables you to glean insights into the root causes behind process inefficiencies. While monitoring employees sheds light on breakdowns within a system, comprehending the “why” often necessitates conversing with the team and learning from their experiences.

However, fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their challenges can pose a challenge. Some may hesitate to express their struggles, especially related to project management or organisational hurdles. Implementing anonymous surveys or appointing a representative to gather feedback anonymously can encourage candid communication and unveil underlying issues.

Recognising that employees are integral to business success, their perspectives can uncover critical concerns beyond operational inefficiencies. Actively listening to their feedback not only bolsters productivity but also reveals hidden organisational challenges like cultural discrepancies or the impact of flexible work arrangements on overall efficiency.

Encouraging open communication—whether through impromptu discussions or structured review processes—promotes a culture of transparency and continuous improvement within the workplace.

 

Workplace Culture and Employee Well-being

Establishing a thriving workplace culture and prioritising employee well-being are foundational elements crucial to the prosperity of small businesses. Cultivating a supportive and motivating work environment enhances productivity and contributes to overall success and growth.

Workplace culture

 

1. Build a Positive Working Environment

Fostering a positive work environment significantly impacts productivity and business success. Acknowledging employee contributions is pivotal; it enhances satisfaction and motivation, driving task completion and overall engagement.

Building such an environment doesn’t always require extravagant measures like corporate campuses. It’s about valuing employees through simple yet impactful means.

  • Regular team-building events
  • Acknowledgment of achievements, big or small
  • Offering flexible work arrangements
  • Emphasising continuous training and skill development
  • Recognition programs

 

These initiatives contribute to a sense of appreciation and belonging, creating a workplace where employees thrive, innovate, and contribute meaningfully. A study revealed that companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.

 

2. Foster a Culture of Continuous Learning

Embracing a culture of ongoing education allows teams to adapt swiftly to industry changes and emerging trends. This environment promotes curiosity, fostering innovation while nurturing employees’ professional development.

Encouraging learning isn’t just about workshops or certifications; it’s about infusing a mindset that values the pursuit of knowledge as an asset.

Employees thrive in an atmosphere where learning isn’t confined to formal training sessions but woven into daily operations. Leaders set the tone by actively engaging in knowledge-sharing initiatives and empowering employees to explore new skills. Platforms for mentorship, peer-to-peer learning, and readily accessible resources are pivotal in fostering an environment that nurtures continuous learning.

Research shows that organisations fostering a culture of continuous learning have a competitive edge, exhibiting higher employee engagement and retention rates. Investing in learning initiatives isn’t just an expense; it’s a strategic move that enriches a business’s intellectual capital and adaptability, leading to long-term success.

 

3. Encourage Breaks and Downtime

Encouraging breaks and downtime plays a pivotal role in maintaining employee productivity and well-being. The mood of the majority of employees tends to improve with regular breaks, according to 90% of surveyed individuals in the workforce (Zipdo).

Short, strategic pauses during work hours are not merely moments of rest; they serve as opportunities for recharging and refocusing. These interludes are vital for preventing burnout and enhancing cognitive abilities, ultimately boosting creativity and problem-solving skills upon return.

Break time

To instil a culture that values breaks, communication is key. Leading by example and actively advocating for these pauses sets a tone of prioritising well-being within the workplace. Providing flexible schedules or creating dedicated areas for relaxation further promotes this practice.

Consider:

  • Offering flexible hours
  • Designating specific spaces for relaxation
  • Encouraging physical activities during breaks

Studies indicate that incorporating breaks into the workday results in increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and reduced stress levels among employees. Embracing and encouraging these moments not only benefits individual well-being but also contributes to a more engaged and efficient workforce.

 

4. Encourage Physical Activity

Encouraging physical activity within the workplace is vital for enhancing employee well-being. Implementing diverse wellness initiatives fosters a healthier atmosphere while promoting engagement and productivity:

  • Fitness Challenges: Tailoring challenges to accommodate various fitness levels, including step challenges or group exercise sessions, can inspire employees to adopt healthier lifestyles.
  • Nutritional Programs: Offering nutrition counselling, healthy eating workshops, or providing healthy snack options supports better dietary choices among employees.
  • Stress Management Workshops: Conducting mindfulness, meditation, or yoga sessions reduces workplace stress.
  • Group Activities: Introducing activities like lunchtime walks, team sports leagues, or yoga classes not only encourages movement but also nurtures camaraderie among colleagues.
  • Access to Gym Memberships: Providing access to on-site fitness centres or subsidising gym memberships incentivises regular physical activity.
  • Ergonomic Workstations: Implementing standing desks or ergonomic setups encourages movement and minimises the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
  • Incentives for Wellness: Rewarding employees for reaching fitness milestones or participating in wellness programs motivates sustained engagement.

By integrating these initiatives into the workplace culture, companies not only prioritise employee health but also foster a more vibrant, productive, and engaged workforce.

 

5. Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Providing professional development opportunities within a workplace is pivotal for employee growth and retention. These initiatives encompass various avenues that contribute to employees’ skill enhancement, knowledge expansion, and career progression. Companies can employ several strategies to facilitate this growth, such as:

  • Workshops and Seminars: Hosting workshops and seminars geared towards industry-specific trends or skill advancements offers employees insights into the latest developments and methodologies. This keeps them updated and adept within their respective fields.
  • Educational Reimbursement: Offering financial support or tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing higher education, certifications, or courses relevant to their roles is an investment in their continuous learning and skill enhancement.
  • Mentorship Programs: Implementing mentorship initiatives where experienced professionals guide and advise newer employees can significantly contribute to their skill development and career advancement.
  • Cross-Training Initiatives: Providing opportunities for employees to learn tasks or skills beyond their immediate roles fosters versatility and a more comprehensive understanding of various aspects of the business.
  • Online Learning Platforms: Enabling access to online learning platforms or digital libraries allows employees to engage in self-paced learning, acquiring new skills and knowledge conveniently.
  • Conferences and Networking: Supporting attendance at industry conferences or facilitating networking events exposes employees to diverse perspectives, enhances their knowledge, and expands their professional networks.

These diverse professional development opportunities empower employees by nurturing their skills, broadening their knowledge, and showcasing the organisation’s commitment to their growth and development, ultimately contributing to higher job satisfaction and loyalty.

 

6. Implement a Reward and Recognition System

Establishing a robust reward and recognition system in the workplace can significantly contribute to employee satisfaction and productivity. 

Reward and recognition

There are various approaches to implementing such programs:

  • Performance-Based Rewards: Recognising and rewarding outstanding performance motivates employees. Programs that acknowledge achievements through bonuses, promotions, or public commendations serve as powerful incentives. For instance, offering unique digital rewards, such as exclusive in-game items like the “Fortnite Batman Who Laughs” skin, can appeal to the gaming interests of employees.
  • Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Encouraging employees to acknowledge their peers’ efforts can foster a positive culture. This might involve a digital platform where employees can nominate each other for exceptional work.
  • Service Recognition: Instituting programs that honour employees for their tenure or loyalty can bolster engagement. Milestone celebrations, such as work anniversaries or longevity awards, signify commitment.
  • Wellness Incentives: Implementing programs that promote health and wellness, like gym memberships, wellness days, or mental health initiatives, can foster a more balanced work-life culture.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Rewarding top performers with learning opportunities, such as access to educational resources or conferences, can reinforce the organisation’s investment in employee growth.
  • Financial Rewards and Benefits: Offering financial incentives, profit-sharing, or stock options can be effective for certain industries and roles, motivating employees to contribute towards the company’s success.

By incorporating diverse programs that align with organisational values and employee preferences, companies can create a holistic reward and recognition strategy. Such initiatives not only motivate employees but also contribute to a positive work environment and heightened employee engagement.

Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration form the backbone of any successful business. Seamless interaction and cooperation among team members foster innovation, productivity, and a positive work environment.

Collaboration

In this digital age, where remote work is increasingly prevalent, the ability to communicate clearly, share ideas, and collaborate efficiently is more critical than ever.

 

1. Use Collaboration Software to Streamline Communication 

Collaboration software has become an essential component in the modern work landscape, particularly with the surge in remote work scenarios and the need for seamless communication across diverse locations.

These tools enable teams to stay connected, bridging the gaps created by distance and varied work environments. They encompass a range of functionalities, consolidating various communication tools into one unified platform. The ideal collaboration software serves as an all-in-one solution for effective team coordination and should be able to support:

  • Team messaging 
  • Video conferencing 
  • Streamlined file sharing and storage

 

Statistics show that 79% of workers use collaboration tools regularly, highlighting the increasing reliance on such software for remote work setups. The significance lies in not just communication but also in facilitating task management, enabling teams to collaborate on projects more efficiently.

Effective collaboration software empowers teams to share ideas seamlessly, fostering a culture of innovation and productivity irrespective of geographical boundaries. 

Below is a quick comparison of multiple software options, aiding you in making informed decisions about which tool might suit your business needs.

   

SoftwareKey FeaturesPricingCompatibilityUser Reviews
SlackTeam messaging, file sharing,Free, Paid PlansWeb, Mobile, Desktop★★★★☆
integration with various apps
MicrosoftVideo conferencing, document sharing,Paid SubscriptionWeb, Mobile, Desktop★★★★★
Teamstask management
ZoomVideo conferencing, screen sharing,Free, Paid PlansWeb, Mobile, Desktop★★★★☆
webinar hosting
Google MeetVideo meetings, calendar integrationFreeWeb, Mobile★★★★☆

  

2. Optimise Meetings

Optimising meetings demands a structured approach aimed at maximising efficiency and productivity. 

Begin by setting a clear agenda outlining the meeting’s objectives and timelines. Encourage active participation and limit attendee numbers to key stakeholders, ensuring their presence is relevant to the discussion. Start and end punctually, honouring everyone’s time commitments.

Utilise technology to your advantage, leveraging collaborative tools for pre-meeting preparation and shared documents during discussions. 

Implement a strict time frame for each agenda item, allowing for concise updates and meaningful discussions. Finally, conclude with action points, responsibilities, and deadlines to ensure accountability and follow-through.

 

3. Leverage Customer Feedback

Leveraging customer feedback is crucial for business growth. Begin by creating accessible channels for feedback, such as surveys, social media interactions, or dedicated feedback forms. 

Use feedback

Analyse received feedback regularly to identify recurring themes or suggestions that can guide product improvements or service enhancements.

Implement a robust system to process and categorise feedback, highlighting both positive and negative aspects. Acknowledge and appreciate customers for their input, showcasing responsiveness and commitment to addressing their concerns. 

Utilise feedback as a blueprint for refining products/services, building trust, and fostering customer loyalty.

 

4. Conduct Regular Performance Reviews

Conducting regular performance reviews is essential for team growth. Start by establishing clear objectives and criteria for evaluation, aligning them with individual and organisational goals. Schedule consistent review sessions to provide constructive feedback, focusing on strengths and areas for improvement.

Encourage open dialogue during reviews, allowing employees to share their perspectives and aspirations. Use these sessions not just for evaluation but also as opportunities for professional development discussions, setting new targets, and charting progress. 

Regular reviews foster accountability, boost motivation and align team efforts with broader business objectives.

 

5. Optimise Presentation Tools

Effective communication within small businesses relies significantly on presentation tools. These tools aid in delivering clear, impactful messages to teams, clients, or investors. One such powerful tool is a pitch deck creator, leveraging AI technology/features to craft impactful pitch presentations.

A pitch deck, a concise presentation outlining key business aspects, is powerful for sharing ideas, strategies, or products with clarity. By optimising such tools, businesses can streamline communication, presenting complex information in a visually engaging and comprehensible manner.

This ensures that critical messages are effectively conveyed, fostering better understanding and collaboration among stakeholders.

 

Questions People Also Ask

1. How can small businesses increase productivity? 

Small businesses can increase productivity by implementing time-blocking strategies, leveraging collaboration tools, providing regular feedback, and fostering a positive workplace culture.

2. What are the four ways to enhance productivity? 

The four ways to enhance productivity include time-blocking for focused work, employing task delegation, setting achievable goals using the SMART framework, and implementing efficient communication and collaboration tools.

3. In what ways can you increase business productivity? 

Increasing business productivity involves streamlining processes, embracing technology for automation, setting clear and achievable goals, fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, and encouraging continuous learning and development among employees.

4. What are five ways to boost workplace productivity? 

Five ways to boost workplace productivity are through effective time management strategies, promoting open communication and teamwork, providing adequate training and support, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and recognizing and rewarding employee achievements.

Conclusion 

Effective small business management hinges on a dynamic interplay of strategies. From goal setting and fostering a positive workplace culture to harnessing efficient communication tools, the keys to success are multifaceted. 

Emphasising productivity, well-being, and streamlined operations, these methods bolster not just the business but also the individuals within it. Embrace these practices to not only thrive in today’s competitive landscape but also cultivate a harmonious, productive, and forward-thinking workspace.

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