For owners of small businesses one of the most common concerns is whether they are operating their company in the most efficient way possible. Larger businesses can often afford some areas to be suboptimal when it comes to efficiency, but for small enterprises every process needs to be finely tuned to maintain the required level of productivity to keep it profitable.
In a small business every employee is ultimately responsible for its success. If just one of them has poor time management skills or fails to identify failing processes and implement optimized procedures to improve workflow, the business will start to struggle.
The most common areas of inefficiency in a small business lie within administration. Most are built on a specific service or product idea and all partners and employees are focused only on making the product the best it can be and selling it.
Generally, entrepreneurs are uninterested in office administration in general and while some do understand the importance of continuous improvement in the workplace, many will not look to improve business systems; not because they do not wish to, but because there is no time to analyze those parts of business operations.
Today, more small businesses are implementing state-of-the art software solutions to help them become more efficient. Software solutions, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), provide ways for managers to identify bottlenecks in production and update processes. An inefficient process could be something as simple as not listening to telephone messages or reading customer emails promptly enough, resulting in lost business.
One area that is all too often overlooked by businesses of all sizes is the importance of a healthy workforce. Healthy employees work more efficiently, tend to make fewer mistakes and enjoy their work more.
Unfortunately, the combination of modern society and the high demands of the business environment cause many employees to party too hard in an attempt to de-stress. This sometimes leads to abuse of alcohol or drugs that may be tolerated outside of work; however, if hangovers and sickness start to affect productivity it can have a devastating effect on a small business.
For this reason, more companies are starting to implement drug-testing policies. This does not mean that a business has to adopt a zero tolerance policy, but it does provide a framework in which it can address possible serious problems.
If a company has a drug testing policy in place it is allowed to carry out a test whenever it feels that an individual, or a group of individuals, have allowed their activities outside of office hours to start to impact on their performance at work. Coming to work under the influence of alcohol can be a serious issue.
Modern day drug testing is a fast and non-invasive procedure. In many cases blood and urine tests have been replaced with oral fluid testing, which is quick and effective.
If an employee tests positive for illegal drugs or excessive alcohol levels it provides managers with an opportunity to address the situation. Often this is enough to encourage the employee to change their habits. In cases where an employee continues to abuse substances, the test results, combined with a company policy on drug use, will allow managers to start disciplinary proceedings. A small business that can quickly replace an inefficient employee will be more productive and more profitable in the long-term.
Although there are many ways to create a more efficient workplace, an effective administration system and happy work force are possibly the two most important factors.