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If you’re a small business owner, you know you should be looking for ways to get ahead of the competition.

Bigger businesses oftentimes have more resources at their disposal; so small businesses may need to get creative when it comes to boosting the bottom line.

Incorporating new strategies to boost productivity can be the most effective way to grow your business. Why, you ask? The benefits of productivity are widespread. It ultimately optimizes your resources, increases profitability, and lowers operational costs.

Here are four ways you can improve productivity at your small business.

1. Establish clearly defined goals


Outlining comprehensible, achievable goals is an essential part of any business strategy.

Employees can’t be expected to excel (and won’t) if they’re unsure about what their goals are.

When creating company-wide goals, be sure to define them in a way that’s quantifiable and actionable. This allows your team to create specific strategies and tailor their day-to-day activities to meet the needs of the organization.

Most importantly, once goals have been established, make sure they are communicated effectively with your team.

A few options for best ways to share these new benchmarks with your team would be to put up signage throughout the office, send a company-wide email, or schedule a team meeting. It’s extremely important that your employees know what these new (or existing) goals are, understand them, and are given the chance to ask questions. The result? They’ll be much more in line with your company vision.

You can even take a page out of Canon USA’s book, who created the Strategy in Action: Canon Americas’ Strategy Playbook. This document that demonstrates the company’s commitment to their communication strategy. Consider doing something similar in your organization for a unique spin on your communication strategy.

When employees know the company’s goals, they gain the freedom and knowledge to think of additional exercises, tasks, or processes to reach those goals faster. More minds thinking about the same end game is bound to lead to growth.

2. Find tasks that can be automated


Using automation tools is a great way for small businesses to keep up with business demands, while also balancing a smaller workforce.

Automation provides small businesses with the ability to do more for less and scale in ways that aren’t otherwise so simple to do. Think of automation tools like an added employee that you don’t have to add to payroll.

A report published by the McKinsey Institute estimates that, for many occupations, around 30 percent of daily activities can be automated. Automation allows employees to spend less time on routine tasks, like sending emails or arranging meetings. As a result, they can focus more time on more valuable projects.

A recent TechCrunch article focusing on Oracle’s use of automation in its sales tools says that increasing levels of automation helps sales teams “run more efficiently with the ultimate goal of using data to more sales and making better use of sales personnel.”

The goal of automation? It helps your team work faster and smarter. A surefire way to boost productivity.

3. Foster high employee engagement levels

engagement word written on wood block. engagement text on table, concept.

According to a study from the University of Warwick, happy employees are 12 percent more productive than those who are unhappy at work.

This isn’t rocket science. When your team members are stoked to head into the office every morning, it’s reflected in their work. They’re motivated to get things done and are focused throughout the work day.

If you’re a manager, a great way to keep your employees engaged is to provide regular feedback. If members of your team work remotely, be sure to initiate regular feedback sessions with them, too.

Have brief, informal meetings with your team over coffee, at lunch, or in the office. This is a great way to keep up with your employees, receive their feedback or concerns, and find ways to make positive changes.

Make an effort to poll your workforce to learn what you can do to foster engagement. For example, providing amenities like flexible work arrangements or work-from-home opportunitiescan improve overall happiness and productivity at your organization.

4. Make communication easy


Small businesses often have to be quick and efficient to compete effectively with larger companies. However, traditional methods of communication are often slow and have a lengthy response time.

Real-time instant messaging has a much faster response time than email. Plenty ofcloud-based software solutionsoffer an instant messaging app. Slack or Google Chat are a couple popular ones. Overall, this enables your workforce to communicate wherever they have an internet connection.

These tools allow employees to collaborate with one another no matter when and where they are working. That means projects can be completed faster.

Employees who use these tools to communicate and collaborate are more likely to share work. And when teams learn to work together, they inherently become more productive. You know the old saying: two heads are better than one!

As a small business owner, you juggle a million tasks. But learning the art of productivity can help you foster a collaborative workforce, master today’s technology tools, and run a thriving business.

Marie Johnson is a UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If she’s not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you’ll likely find the Enlightened Digital contributor strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.

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