The Oxford Dictionary definition to be efficient is: to be productive with minimum waste of effort. To be capable; act effectively; produce effect.
Efficiency is the noun. So efficiency is the production of an effect with the minimum waste of effort. I.e. getting something done in the quickest, simplest and easiest way possible. Thats not to say get it done in a slipshod or careless manner, just to get it done, but to achieve a goal with the proper and desired result, as close to effortlessly, as is possible.
It would track, therefore, that business efficiency, is the proper achievement of business goals, objectives, processes, etc., with the minimum waste of effort and the maximum effectiveness. Agreed?
Ok, in a sterile bubble of a business world, this should be possible VERY easily, but in the real world, distractions, unforeseen events, unplanned occurrences, unexpected work and the like all make to disrupt our smoothly planned out business. Sometimes to the extent that we are operating on the edge of functioning, just managing to get things done. Usually running over deadlines rather than meeting them, or not completing the task to the best of our ability, just because we dont have the time and we are always playing catch-up.
This is NOT a nice position to be in. I was there once!
So, how do we cope with all the noise of distractions and complications and still find the time to run our business effectively, whilst ensuring that it continues to grow?
One: Decide on what you want to achieve with your business i.e. what are your business goals and objectives? Knowing what your goals are enables you to work towards them in a clear and defined way.
Two: Know your business and how it functions this will help you understand how you will achieve your goals. Break your business down into separate functions, such as marketing, finance, sales, administration, to name a few, and work out how each department operates, what its purpose is and how much time you spend working on it.
By putting this down on paper you will see how your business operates as a whole and in parts, and how much time you are spending on making each part happen; i.e. where your business is AT.
Three: Implement policies and procedures for a more streamlined business – implementing procedures that will ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible, guided by clear policies in order to achieve specific objectives. You can have as many procedures as you feel you need to cover each departmental function.
Your business objectives/goals
Your departments overall function
The policy for each department
The separate functions that make up each department
Any procedures/systems you already have in place and how they could or need to be improved or changed
By creating these procedures you will ensure that each department of your business has a streamlined and clearly defined system in place to deal with everyday jobs and tasks, as well as any issues or problems that may arise. This will save you from having to operate on the edge of functioning or just playing catch-up with your processes and admin.
Four: Create a Business Bible for your business – If you and your vision are the heart of your business, your Business Bible is its circulation system. Your Business Bible will contain every piece of information you need to run your business. This means that not only do you not have to remember everything, which can be stressful and limiting in itself, but also you can refer to it in different situations, keep it as a reminder of your business objectives and use it to educate anyone about your business and how it works.
It should contain:
List of business departments
All relevant documentation for each department
Five: Review and Update – Your business is not a static object, it is a living, breathing and changing thing. You and your business will change, you may learn new information or take on board new skills, your customer base will increase or perhaps your range of products or services will increase; you may take on a partner or new employee.
As any or even all of things happen and time passes, you will have to review your business objectives and how you are gong to achieve them. This will result in changes being needed to some or all of your departments and their procedures and this will in turn affect the documentation required and ultimately your business bible.
If you regularly review your current business position in terms of its objectives and operations, then you will be able to adapt quickly and easily to any changes your review brings to light, ensuring that you are always running you business in the most effective way possible and therefore with the greatest efficiency.
You need to really look at what you want to happen for your business and where you want to be in the future. By implementing a comprehensive framework of business operations (policies and procedures) you will ensure that as your business grows it will do so on a solid foundation of organisation, effectiveness, efficiency and, ultimately, greater success.
This brings us back to our definition of business efficiency: The proper achievement of business goals, objectives, processes, etc, with the minimum waste of effort and the maximum effectiveness.