Productivity – the key to thriving when times are tough

Productive businesses are like cacti – able to survive and grow in tough conditions using minimal resources. So, let’s look at how your business can emulate those prickly plants and thrive in what is shaping up to be a challenging environment for businesses.

With high inflation, rising rates and even talk of a possible recession on the cards for Australia, it can be a tricky time to be running a small business.

It can be beneficial during tough times, or even in anticipation of challenging times on the horizon, to focus on increasing productivity – doing more with less resources. Some species of cacti can do without water for up to two years – they are masters at doing a lot with a little, but as a business it can be hard to ensure you are running a lean machine without losing output, sacrificing quality or profits.

Here are a few ways you can improve your business’s productivity and run a lean, but productive, machine:

Maintain and keep the focus on growth

Just like the cactus that manages to keep growing with minimal resources, your business should also focus on growth. It’s important that the processes you are putting in place to enhance productivity and remove unnecessary costs do not constrain growth.

Make sure you set goals for achievable growth milestones and review them regularly against progress.

Empower and motivate employees to improve their output

One of the best ways to improve productivity is to involve the team. Share your goals and aims and get everyone in on the journey with you. Equally, working together to set achievable goals and targets for individuals will improve buy-in as well as productivity, as people tend to work more efficiently when they’re involved in the decision-making process and focused on achieving clear objectives within agreed timeframes.

Innovate to make the most of existing resources

Innovating does not mean you have to reinvent the wheel – there are a lot of existing systems and applications out there that can help you to be more productive as a business. Seek out technology solutions that remove mundane, repetitive tasks and support collaboration and automation. Review your processes and try to streamline how things are done and promote efficiencies.

Orient to the provision of customer value

Productive businesses tend to be focused on business processes that deliver customer value. Orienting and pivoting to the provision of customer value will help you uncover inefficiencies like outdated procedures and unnecessary steps.

The process works best when employees at every level are encouraged to suggest changes to improve the way things are done. If an employee can identify a shortcut that makes their work faster without sacrificing results, support them to implement it.

Outsource certain tasks

Using third party providers can enhance productivity as you can pay for services as you need them and avoid making major investments in infrastructure, software, or personnel.

Another advantage of outsourcing is you’re able to increase the efficiency of your business by getting expert help without having to hire experts full-time.

Implement lean financial practices

Running a lean business means reducing or removing unnecessary costs so it’s a clever idea to review your cash flow to see whether you can reduce your costs anywhere in the business. Review your suppliers and ensure you are getting the best deals from utilities providers.

Part of your lean implementation can also be to cut down on liabilities by not keeping excessive amounts of stock. You can do this by implementing good inventory management practices and forecasting to match supply and demand.

While for many businesses it’s important to project an image of success with big fancy offices, lavish workspaces can incur excessive costs that that eat into profits. With working from home becoming more common, it might be worth reviewing your office space requirements while looking for ways to reduce ongoing costs.

Operating your business in the most productive manner and with minimal outlay and overhead costs isn’t about penny-pinching – it’s a mindset shift that will enable your business to be sustainable in the long term, not just responding to adverse economic conditions.

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