11 Great Ways To Work Smarter and Better in 2016

small business strength

In terms of the economy and its outlook there may only be thing that small business owners can agree on: It’s been quite unsettled for a long time. There have certainly been some positive signs, but as often as not, they seem to get offset by bad – or at least mediocre – news.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that as coming year becomes the focus of small business owners, many will be committing themselves to redoubling their efforts at achieving success.

This is great, but I want to take a quick look at the various approaches small business owners take when they decide to “really go for it.” Their options are:

  • Work longer.
  • Work smarter.
  • Work better.

Of course, some will adopt a blend of two or more of these three approaches. However, of these three, only one as the unfortunate quality of delivering severely diminishing returns the more you do it.

If your approach to pushing your small business forward in 2016 is to work longer hours, I fear that you will be disappointed in both the results and the impact it has on your overall quality of life. I remember hearing someone once say that no one on their death bed says, “I wish I would have spent more time in the office!”

I understand that small business owners have to meet their commitments and sometimes that requires long hours. But please, don’t consider working longer hours a “strategy” to achieve success next year. If you work better and smarter, you can achieve more, spend less, and maintain your mental and physical health at the same time.

Let’s take a quick look at 11 strategies to help you work better and smarter in the coming year.

Work better

  1. Complete small tasks. Divide bigger projects into smaller tasks that you can attack and complete successfully. Respect the length of the workday for yourself and your team.
  2. Eliminate distractions. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Tame social media for yourself and your employees. There may even be some clients that are more of a distraction to your business than they are a profitable pursuit. Don’t be afraid to trim.
  3. Get organized, stay organized, and establish good habits. For example, if you find yourself picking up and reviewing the same invoice a half dozen times before you deal with it, you have a problem. Live by a “once-and-done” philosophy.
  4. Get some exercise. Don’t let yourself or your team get physically run down. You’ll lose productivity and people’s attitudes aren’t the best when they aren’t physically active. Make it a priority.
  5. Be sure you have the right people doing the right things. Don’t force people to work outside of their strengths. This is a common small business problem. Sled dogs love to pull sleds. Hunting dogs love to be out on the hunt. When you try to force them into roles outside of their strengths, they don’t flourish. Find the right roles for your team.

Work smarter

  1. Commit to self improvement. You are the most valuable asset in your small business. Invest in that asset and grow it!
  2. Take a mile-high look at your business and organization. One of the highest compliments among NASA astronauts and engineers is to be called a “steely-eyed missile man.” That’s a person who can quickly find the problem and devise the solution to a difficult situation. It takes clarity of thought and the ability to set aside any preconceived ideas. View your small business in that light and make the adjustments and corrections that are warranted.
  3. Eliminate waste and wasted effort. There is nothing more detrimental to a small business than waste. Period. Don’t waste money. Don’t waste materials. Don’t waste time – yours or that of your employees.
  4. Clarify your goals. With your mile-high overview fresh in your mind, revisit your original business plan and modify it to position your small business better within today’s market opportunities. You might even decide that it’s time to move on or say no to some opportunities.
  5. Leverage freelancers and virtual employees. Find ways to do more with less. Developing a strategy to use freelancers and virtual employees is one of your best tools in this effort. Start small and then ramp up.
  6. Automate wherever possible. I know it’s a cliché to say, “There’s an app for that,” but that doesn’t make it any less true. Be sure that you are using all the great apps that will help you do more with fewer people or fewer hours of your time. Automation eliminates overhead and mistakes, and lets you “punch above your weight.”

These are some of my recommendations as you get organized to attack the coming year. What are your thoughts?