Like it or not, every business has waste. This is definitely true in larger companies, where sheer scale can hide major inefficiencies. But even if you’re a solopreneur or freelancer, there are undoubtedly wasteful processes and practices that are keeping you from being as effective as you could be.
So listen up, because it’s time to take out the trash. When you kick the waste to the curb, you’ll be able to spend more of your time focused on the tasks that actually help you please your clients and generate a profit.
1. An Old-School Reliance On Outdated Tools
When it comes to digital tools and platforms, a lot of teams and solopreneurships feel most comfortable sticking with the basics — standard products like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Then there are businesses that manage most of their internal processes with little more than a Gmail account.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these tools, but there are often better ways to do things. There are so many additional tools and resources available nowadays, many of which are specifically designed for the needs of your industry.
Instead of tracking your income and expenses in a Google spreadsheet, for example, you could be using accounting tools that collect all the numbers automatically based on your invoices. Many of these platforms can even help you better manage your end-of-year tax responsibilities.
Let’s not forget about automation, either.
Finances and bookkeeping are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of things you can (and should) automate. You could use Google Alerts to prospect potential clients based on keywords relevant to your business. You could even add a chatbot to your website to guide clients through the “discovery” phase. Other tools help streamline the process for creating proposals and contracts, allowing you to quickly generate content for these important documents.
Take some time to evaluate the tools you’re currently using, as well as the drudge work that is necessary, yet time-consuming. Chances are, there are new, more advanced tools available to help you streamline your workflow so you can focus more time on the tasks that actually turn a profit.
2. Demand Maximum Transparency From Other Businesses
No matter how small your company is, you’re not going to be completely on your own. Practically every business relies on others to make things work.
Because of this, the inefficiencies you experience might not be entirely your fault at all — they could be caused by other people or businesses, many of which you rely on for success. For that very reason, it’s so important to demand total transparency from those you work with.
By way of example, in a unique niche of its own, logistics companies should provide reports that attest to the efficiency of their shipping routes. “If there’s an issue somewhere along the way, the sender, recipient and even the carrier will know when the issue occurred and who’s responsible,” Logmore CEO Janne Juhala recently said in an interview. “Small businesses, even with their limited resources, have to absorb part of the costs of waste. As such, effectively managing their supply chains is critical to their success.”
Still, getting beyond supply chains, when others tell you what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, you can better evaluate if their inefficiencies are holding you back. Whether you’re reviewing something as day-to-day as basic accounting information or checking data logs from shipping sensors, it all helps.
In our data-filled age, transparency isn’t optional. Anybody who works with you in any kind of capacity should be able to validate their results. Be skeptical of anyone who is reluctant to offer an “inside look” at what they’re doing for you.
3. Take A Good, Hard Look At Your Meetings
Depending on the nature of your business, you may not find yourself sitting around a huge table with board members in suits and ties, but whether you’re at a multi-national brand or a micro- business, you likely still have plenty of meetings that can prove to be a major time suck.
For a lot of us, this usually translates to “meet-ups,” “brainstorm calls” and “pick your brain” sessions. Meetings where you discuss any number of topics with a potential client, often without charging them a single penny, or other stakeholders, either within or outside of your team.
This can become a major source of lost revenue, particularly if these informal sessions don’t turn a potential lead into a paying client. If these calls and sessions aren’t leading to profit, should you really be holding them in the first place?
Of course, the problem with meetings can persist even after you start working with a client. Some service providers fall into the trap of scheduling weekly meetings that aren’t actually necessary. In reality, a lot of these meetings take an hour to talk about what you could have typed up in an email in about ten minutes.
While I’m not trying to say you must eliminate all versions of meetings from your calendar, you should definitely take a closer look at whether they are really necessary. Quite often, these meetings aren’t really productive or profitable, and your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Start Working More Efficiently Today!
While a single source of “waste” may not seem like a big deal at first, each little inefficiency can add up faster than you might expect. This can cause you to lose precious hours over the course of a week and keep you from reaching your full potential. It could even lead to a direct loss in revenue.
By stepping back and taking a critical look at your processes, you’ll be able to identify where you can make changes so you can work smarter than ever before.