The first part of this series has already been posted. It is titled Increasing Productivity with the small things. In that post I summarized several small techniques or tools that you can use to increase your office productivity. This post will focus on several more things that you can do to increase your overall productivity. I will assume that you already have a small business or are thinking of going in to business for yourself. I think that this is most useful for startups and smaller companies.
Productivity is a wonderful metric to use for an established business. If you think of a factory that builds product x, for example. If you take a look at how much money it takes to make product x, one of the things you will need to know is how much machine time or labor time that is required. Machine time can be easy to calculate. The productivity will be closely tied to the machine efficiency. Pretty much, if the machine is running properly then it is 100 percent productive. But if it stops and you have to fix it then the productivity goes down.
Human labor is different. Humans can always improve on their own process and improve. When calculating productivity you may set a standard example process that takes a certain amount of time. If someone completes the task within that amount of time then they will be 100 percent productive. But if they complete the process in less time they will be more than 100 percent productive. Since this gets to be a mathematical nightmare, its best to just reset the standard to be a bit higher then you can show a metric less than 100 percent.
This is all fine when we have an established factory and hourly workers building something. But, what about a solo-prenuer who is just by themselves in an office? Perhaps even a home office. How do you measure yourself against the standard? What is the standard?
These questions cannot easily be answered clearly. The best method I have found is to just start and make that your base line. Then as you improve or get worse, you can measure yourself against that base line. Today I have a few helpful items that you may have already thought of but believe that you cannot afford:
- Accountant. I have to promote our own profession first. Even if you are an accountant by trade, sometimes it is easier for you to focus on working on the business and let an external accountant worry about the accounting for your business. This will free up lots of time for you to improve processes and increase your value to the business. In the Toronto area there are several accountants that I have worked with before. Generally they work for themselves and are very willing to take on small business clients.
- Lawyer. These guys are a must have. You should have a range of lawyers for every aspect of your business. When getting started you need a lawyer to draft up your terms and legal entity papers. When you begin to take on clients you need to be sure to have a lawyer draft up a contract. Small business lawyers can help with different questions you may have about what you can and cannot do. I recently had a friend who started his own business and ended up receiving payment from a lawsuit in the form of real estate. He had to consult a Toronto real estate lawyer just to learn what his options were. So, don’t underestimate the power that lawyers can give you.
- Consultant. Finally, don’t be shy and ask someone who already knows about your situation. Consultants are everywhere. They can help with almost anything. And if nothing else, they can be a mentor for you and help with small questions you may have.
Be sure to invest in these professionals. You’re core value will be taking care of your business so be sure you let other professionals take care of the non-core items.