For any business that has even the vaguest interest in being successful over the long term, never mind being a major player in its particular niche or industry, efficiency is a fundamental consideration that has to be taken into account and used as a yardstick to measure the bulk of strategic decisions.
In fact, it’s not going too far to suggest that a business can skilfully utilize the resources available to it will essentially always triumph over a business that hopelessly squanders its wealth and human capital.
Much as someone can win the lottery and still end up bankrupt a couple of years later if they don’t rein in their spending habits and stick to a reasonable plan, so too can even the most well-equipped companies fail to achieve their potential if they are not able to manage their operations in an efficient enough manner.
Of course, increasing the efficiency of a business is rarely a simple, straightforward task. In fact, it’s the kind of thing that vast numbers of books have been written about, and plenty of training and consultation courses have focused on to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.
Nonetheless, though, here are a few efficiency-boosting tips that may be useful for your business – especially if you’re fairly new to the world of entrepreneurship.
Utilize the services of companies who are specialized in boosting supply chain and logistical efficiency
It doesn’t matter how incredible the product you’re selling is; if your supply chain lets you down, and you are unable to deliver the promised good to your would-be customers in a timely and reliable manner, everything is going to crumble.
The thing is, supply chain and logistical concerns are typically very complex and are not necessarily the kinds of things that you will be able to manage very efficiently on your own.
Instead of trying to micromanage this domain of your professional life, utilize the services of companies who are specialized in boosting supply chain and logistical efficiency in their own right. Whether that means looking into utilizing the services of a pallet logistics company, or hiring a different courier service, leaving things up to the experts in a given domain can make a striking difference.
For most companies, the sort of “back-end” work that goes into maintaining a healthy supply chain should be more or less “out of sight, out of mind,” for most of the time. But, in order for this to be the case, you have to know that you have knowledgeable and trusted expert on the job who can handle the nitty-gritty, and liaise with you as required.
Narrow the scope of your professional focus
If “efficient” means something like “focusing available resources as precisely and effectively as possible,” then it stands to reason that any company that tries to do too many different things at once is by necessity going to be operating in an inefficient manner.
For new start-ups, in particular, it’s often tempting to try and “multitask” to an extreme degree, in order to gain any conceivable sort of edge over the competition.
“If they’ll sell you lawn chairs, then we’ll sell you lawn chairs, do your taxes, and brew you a great cup of coffee” may seem like a decent strategy for sticking out, and making a lasting impression. In reality, though, what it tends to mean is that you’ll be selling your customers a lower-quality lawn chair, doing their taxes badly, and bringing them a pretty terrible cup of coffee.
By narrowing the scope of your professional focus to one or two core functions, you can ensure that as much of your time, money, and attention as possible is utilized efficiently, rather than being dispersed so broadly that it fails to have any meaningful impact.
In other words; it’s better to be a “master of one trade” than a “jack of all trades.”
Specify your company vision, and distill it as concisely as possible
As a business, you are not primarily selling a product or service to your customers. What you are actually doing, is selling them a particular benefit, and a particular solution to a problem they might be facing.
For example – people don’t shop around for garden chairs because “this model of chair is weatherproof to X standard.” Rather, they shop around for garden chairs because “I’d really love to be able to sit outside each morning with my cup of coffee, without having to constantly move the chair between the shed and garden, to prevent it being damaged by the rain.”
To a large extent, managing your business efficiently comes down to being able to specify your company vision in minute detail, and to really hone in on the particular emotive benefit you are trying to offer to your customers.
Conduct market research, and go through your own brainstorming processes. The better able you are to specify that vision and benefit, the more efficiently you can conduct your marketing and branding, as well as your product design.
See how far an “extreme ownership” ethos can take you
The term “extreme ownership,” has been popularised by the former US Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, of the leadership-coaching company Echelon Front.
The basic concept represented by this term is that the more willing you are to accept total responsibility and accountability for whatever happens in your life (personally, and professionally), the less likely you are to fall prey to your own excuses and rationalizations, and the more likely it is you will be successful.
In their popular book, titled “Extreme Ownership,” the two argue that this form of absolute accountability is the number one trait found among successful leaders and that it allows them to act effectively and efficiently, while also motivating their team members to do the same.
There are all sorts of things that can happen in our professional lives that don’t seem directly connected to our actions, and which can present major problems for us. But it might be that by accepting and adopting an “extreme ownership” ethos, you can reduce the sort of inefficiency that comes from self-rationalization, and can continue to run a thriving business despite setbacks.
It seems worth a try, anyway.