Productivity in business is vital to business success and growth. In a nutshell, productivity simply boils down to being organized and motivated.
However, those are two words that can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming. As a business owner, what can you do to break down productivity into reasonable, actionable steps? And how can you run an organized and motivated team–even if all on your team aren’t motivated and organized by nature?
What Does It Mean To Be Productive In Business Ownership?
As a business owner, your example will be one that will affect your team the most. If you’re disorganized and have a tough time getting motivated, others may follow suit.
Conversely, if your enthusiasm for making your business the best it can be shines through, that attitude will be contagious as well. Personally, as a business owner myself I’m not organized by nature. However, there are certain “mantras” that help me bring the most results in terms of business productivity.
The 80/20 Rule
There’s a well-known rule in business that 20 percent of your efforts will produce 80 percent of your results. This is known as the 80/20 rule.
Your goal? Focus on tasks that bring the most results. For example, work to minimize activities that have minimal impact on your business success as a whole. If cleaning your office takes up much more time than it should each day, delegate that task and spend time on marketing activities.
Being productive means finding the activities that help produce more long-term success in your business. Then delegate or eliminate activities that don’t improve business growth.
Distraction is a huge roadblock to productivity for business owners and employees alike. And if you’re like me and struggle with a bit of ADD, distraction can be even more of a hindrance.
The solution? I like setting mini-goals to help me get through my to-do list. For instance, I’ll allow myself a brief five-minute walk when I’ve completed a half-hour long task.
Or I’ll reward myself via lunch with a friend during the week if I’ve accomplished several tasks during the week. Reward yourself for combating distraction, and don’t hesitate to encourage your employees to do the same. Every step you take toward reducing distraction by working through it is a step to a better business.
Creating Efficient Systems
A third key to being productive as a business owner is to work on creating efficient systems. Call on your employees to work with you in doing so, especially if you have a larger small business.
One reason large businesses often see so much waste is that they don’t heed the input of front-of-the-line employees regarding systems. Tim is a heavy equipment operator who works for a mid-size business in Minnesota. He’s often baffled by the lack of consideration given to front-end employee suggestions.
“There are hundreds of thousands of dollars lost every year in this business due to front-line procedures that are done inefficiently. If the higher-ups would heed our suggestions on how to run ground operations more efficiently, they would see a marked increase in profit.”
Your front-end employees often know systems and procedures much better than back-end management. And their wisdom regarding systems and operations frequently goes unnoticed. Gaining the wisdom of front-end employees regarding efficiency can be quite profitable for your business.
How To Be Productive As A Business Owner
Along with suggestions on what it means to run a productive business, there are steps you can take to be more productive. These steps can improve productivity for yourself as well as your team.
1. Start The Day Right
Starting the day right is key to increased productivity. Making yourself and your personal improvement a priority is a great place to start.
A Power Packed Start
It’s helpful to start your workday in a way that promotes strength and positivity. Doing so will help increase your confidence and clarity for business and personal decisions.
Consider starting your morning with time in prayer, meditation and/or exercise. Complete a stretching routine, some strength training and/or a cardio session.
Spend some time in prayer or meditation reflecting on the upcoming day and being thankful. Work to clear your mind of negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts of peace and success.
A power-packed diet is important for productivity too. Avoid sugary breakfasts such as donuts, and eat a balanced diet with healthy protein sources such as eggs, adding in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lastly, find a way to connect with loved ones in the morning before work. Eat breakfast and spend some time talking about the upcoming day. Reflect on the previous night or talk about plans for the upcoming weekend.
Spend The Drive To Work In Learning Mode
Get your mind pumped up for business success by listening to motivational podcasts or audiobooks on the drive in. This is a great use of time that will surely impact your business’s success. Some suggestions for podcasts include:
- The Ziglar Show
- The Lewis Howes School Of Greatness
- Bulletproof (focusing on mind/body nutrition)
- Getting Things Done
Audiobooks are another great source of self-improvement whilst on the road. Amazon’s list of best selling self-help audiobooks is a great place to start. Ditch morning radio talk shows (unless they’re learning based) and music for an impromptu on-the-road business success session.
Make A List
Lists are a powerful way to organize your priorities and get things done. Start each day by making a list of several things you want or need to do for your business.
Then, rank them in order of importance. Make a commitment that you won’t quit your workday until you’ve completed at least the top three things on your list.
Consider making lists that apply to your personal workday as well as lists that apply to your team.
Fellow business owner, Ashley, uses Brendan Burchard’s High-Performance Planner to help her stay organized.
The planner has a “start of day” section and an “end of day” section. In the morning it asks questions such as “What are your top three goals and priorities?” and “What is a situation that might stress me out or trip me up today?” It’s a very focused way to start the day. It makes a huge difference.
At the end of the day, it has prompts for reflection on the day such as, “A moment I really appreciated today was…” and “I could have made today even better if I…” I love looking back and seeing if I accomplished what I set out to do. If I keep coming up short I know I need to make a major change in that area.
I can see a big decline in personal productivity if skip using the journal for even three or four days in a row.
Football teams have a group huddle before every play. They review play execution and make sure everyone’s on the same page. Regular team huddles can be great for business productivity too.
Start your team’s mornings (or weeks) with a group huddle. Brief them on business aspects they need to know about such as visits from potential clients. Let them in on any modifications to company goals or direction.
When the entire team knows about company goals, you help ensure everyone is headed in the same direction.
2. Promote A Team Mentality
Creating and promoting a team mentality helps employees to feel invested in your business. If your employees feel as if they’re partners in your business, they’ll be more invested in its success. They’ll feel valued, needed and as if their contribution to your company truly matters.
There are several things you can do to promote a team mentality within your group. Share your goals for the company. Bounce visions and ideas off of team members. Use words like “we” and “our” instead of “me” and “my” and “the” when talking about your business.
Work to help ensure team members feel as if they are a necessary key to your business’s success. Keep them abreast of your company’s journey. Ask for their input regarding business direction and goals.
Delegation is another important key to promoting a team mentality. According to a Gallup poll, 60% of employees list the opportunity to do what they do best as extremely important for job satisfaction.
For small businesses with fewer employees to spread duties among, employee job satisfaction is doubly important. Taking the time to learn what your employees do best will help them feel satisfied and give you more time to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Be A Mentor
A mentor is a person who provides guidance for the professional and emotional growth of another. By creating a mentor/mentee relationship with your employees, you can form a bond that is conducive to productivity.
A mentor has three main responsibilities:
- Share knowledge and resources
- Encourage growth
- Be a truth-speaker
Of course, mentorship needs to be done in a way that is positive, promoting an environment of trust. Your goal as a mentor is to help your employees define their career (and sometimes personal) goals. Then, help them develop a plan to meet those goals.
By helping your team members to strengthen and grow, you encourage productivity within your business.
Here’s a great TED talk about how to motivate your employees.
3. Set Goals
Setting goals is an important key to ensuring productivity for your business. These tips will help you set goals in a manner that encourages success.
Write Them Down
Setting goals is important. However, writing those goals down will increase your chances of reaching them exponentially.
A study conducted at Dominican University of California found that writing your goals down is a key ingredient in achieving them.
In a study of 267 participants, those who physically wrote their goals down were far more likely to achieve them than those who didn’t. Choose to write your goals down and encourage your team members to do the same.
Measure Your Progress
As the old saying goes, “You can’t improve what your don’t measure.” Work toward ensuring you reach your goals by measuring your progress. That might mean making charts or graphs to track your journey.
Or, it might involve writing down and completing small daily or weekly tasks that push you toward your goal. Find measuring techniques that motivate and encourage you. Then commit to using them.
Set Short, Medium And Long Term Goals
An important key to increased productivity in goal setting involves setting goals that take varying lengths to achieve. For example, a short term goal might be to reach out to ten new potential clients this week.
A medium-term goal might be to expand your client base by 15 percent within the next year. And a long term goal might be to double your profit within the next five years.
Remember that as you set goals–especially longer term ones–that it’s vital to create action steps to reach those goals. A goal without a plan to get there will likely fail.
For instance, let’s look at the example of expanding your client base by 15 percent within the next year. How are you going to achieve that? Where will you find potential clients to reach out to? What benefits can you offer them to convince them they need your products or services?
Having smaller action steps that will help you reach your goals will help the process to feel less overwhelming. Therefore, be sure to write down regular, smaller steps you can take that will get you to completion of the goal as a whole.
Keep Employees Aware Of Goals
Sharing your company goals with employees has two main benefits. First, it helps them to feel like a part of your team. Second, if they’re aware of the goals they can do their part to help your business reach those goals.
Help to create a team mentality by sharing company goals – and progress – with your team members. And don’t be afraid to ask for help in meeting those goals.
Encourage Employees To Set Their Own Goals
As a part of your mentorship plan, you can encourage your team members to set their own goals. Growth is always good for a company and for its team members.
It may work to set regular meetings (monthly, perhaps?) to meet with team members and talk about their career goals. In addition, you can update them on company goals at that time and ask for their input. Adding this step will help create a more cohesive environment.
4. Multitask Correctly
Multitasking can be a great way to get more things done. It can also be productivity’s worst enemy. How? Because if you multitask incorrectly, you’ll get a lot of things done poorly instead of some things done well.
Here are some tips for multitasking in a way that breeds productivity:
- Multitask when you have several light or mundane projects to do (i.e. clean up your office while listening to a podcast)
- Multitasks using different types of focus (i.e. physical labor with listening, not listening and reading)
- Avoid multitasking for intense projects that require your complete focus
By multitasking correctly, you can get more things done without diminishing the quality of your work.
5. Do Your Toughest Work In The Morning
Our fifth suggestions for increasing productivity in your business is to do your toughest work in the morning. This is especially helpful if you’ve used our suggestions on starting the day right.
If you’ve gotten enough rest, had a healthy breakfast and so on, your clarity and energy levels will be highest in the morning. Use this time to do your day’s toughest tasks.
Conversely, as the day goes on your energy levels and focus ability will likely decrease. As such, use your afternoons to focus on more mundane tasks.
Productivity Tools You Can Use
One way to help you as you increase productivity is to use tools created for doing so. As mentioned earlier, a great planner can be a powerful tool for productivity.
Check Amazon or your local office store to find a planner that will work for you. Apps and online planners can be great for productivity as well.
The ToDoist app helps you organize and prioritize all of your life’s goals and obligations. Other apps and online planners include:
There are other choices as well, and many of them are free to use. Research to find the ones that will best work for your needs.
Productivity in business does take some planning. However, with the right techniques and tools, you can make your business all that you want it to be. Use the suggestions above to take steps to increase productivity in your business. Then watch as your business grows and flourishes to new heights.