Every business wants to be better tomorrow than it is today — but what can you do to make that so?
Well, it’s not so hard when you get down to the nuts and bolts of building continuous improvement into every aspect of even the smallest businesses. Let’s take a look at five ways you can get started today.
Evaluate where you are now
To improve, you need a plan to improve, but before you go racing off to talk about doing XYZ better and making 12% more sales, it’s a good idea to take stock of where you are right now.
That means looking at what you do, what your customers think of your business and your current capacities and capabilities. It is unlikely you’re going to triple sales this year if you’re all doing double shifts in order to meet current demand. Well, to be fair, things are going to have to change in other departments if you want to triple sales in this scenario.
We begin at the beginning which is where we are today.
Look for some quick wins
Before you start with dramatic programs to shift up the business culture or to implement six sigma on the manufacturing floor, look for some quick wins. These serve two purposes when you’re trying to create a continuous improvement style in your business:
- They produce results and thus you’re already seeing a good reason to do this more often; and
- They motivate the people involved, because a quick win is a morale boost and can help people buy into more substantial changes.
The easiest way to find quick wins? Talk to your customers or your staff members.
Make sure change is meaningful before you make it
People don’t hate change. This is a pure myth. But they do hate pointless change.
If you’re going to work towards continuous improvement, people will support you, but only if they can see a higher purpose behind the changes that you make.
Make sure you know exactly what you expect to achieve before you announce a change, and consider what impact it may have on other areas of working life. If you double sales but don’t double the crew in the warehouse, don’t be surprised when your customers start getting angry about delayed deliveries.
Try to improve revenue rather than becoming passionate about cost-cutting
Look, cost-cutting is a good idea, but too many small businesses become obsessive about what is spent and where rather than trying to grow the business. Everyone’s happier when the business gets bigger and there’s more money coming in. Almost nobody’s happy when you’re making 12 people share a pen because you’re trying to cut back on stationery spending.
Consider business-process automation
One of the easiest ways to give a business a boost is to automate its processes using robots (machine tools on computers rather than Cylons). These will tend to adhere to industry best practices (cutting down your need for training) and give productivity a significant boost.
If you tie automation into sales and marketing to begin with, you will see an instant ROI and gain real business growth without it costing you a fortune. You can’t say fairer than that when it comes to improving your business.
Of course, there are a myriad of other ways you can help continuously improve your business, but these five ought to give you plenty to get started with.
They’re proven strategies for delivering more bang for buck and bringing more money through the door. Business bliss if you were.
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