Let’s talk about efficiency. At its core, efficiency is the art of using the resources you have to their maximum potential, having as little to no down time or dead time as possible. You can always grow in efficiency. There’s no such thing as “100% efficient” – just like there is no such thing as “100% perfect”. You can approach maximum efficiency, as you can approach the state of perfection, but part of who we are as human beings means we will never quite achieve it. You can take this as a negative thing, but in our industry, we use it to propel us forward. So what if we can’t achieve perfection? We can always improve, always grow, always be more efficient. To us, that ability to constantly change and grow and find a new, better way to do things is worth it – way more than attaining perfection ever could be worth.
Time – Our Most Precious Resource
What’s the one thing you spend but can never get back? Time. It’s interesting how every single person, animal, and object exists in time and is subject to time, no matter what continent we are on or what our life looks like. It doesn’t matter if we measure it by seconds on your clock or the number of sunrises and sunsets. We are all given a finite amount of time, and once it is spent, we can never get it back. Not until someone invents a time machine, at least.
So how can you be efficient with your time? As a business owner, you know that time is more precious than ever. Your ability to use your time wisely with the opportunities you’re provided can make or break you. It can mean rapid and amazing growth, or being forced to close up shop after only a few years in the business. How do you use your 24/7? What’s your focus?
When it’s just you working in and on the business, you’re the starting point and the ending point for things getting done. New company needs to be registered – you’re the one doing it. New company needs a bank account – you again. Phone rings and you’ve got to screen out the spammers from potential clients that want to do business with you – all on you.
After you’ve been a one-person show for a while, that first time you are able to outsource a task, whether it’s your cousin in college who will answer phones for you while they’re on summer break, or you’ve finally got enough recurring revenue to hire a bookkeeper to run the numbers you’ve been crunching every month – wow. You take a step back and you can breathe. Now, that 2 hours each day has been freed up. Now, you can work on the business, so you can try and improve your processes, grow your client base, generate more revenue, and outsource more of the time-consuming grunt work. You knowing that your time is limited drives you to be efficient. Having the right perspective of the resources you’re given can really help push you to grow and become more efficient in how you use those resources. Time is one we can all relate to.
Speed – Increase Your Throughput
After you’ve found ways to delegate your time and tasks, another way to improve efficiency is of course getting faster at the things you already do. Getting faster means you free up more time, which means you can reinvest it in the company, in your life, and in the lives of those around you. You’re now doing the work, but you’re seeing results way faster. You can identify where things may be broken that much faster. You can turn around, assess and problem solve and implement the improvement that much sooner. Now, you’re in a cycle of growth. Increasing speed does not only mean more money, it means having a better product, a better process, a better overall experience in your business.
Don’t look at speed for the sake of speed. If you do that, you’ll cut corners and actually become inefficient – wasteful of your resources. Speed is a by-product of wanting to grow and improve. Speed will come naturally as you choose to see where things are broken or imperfect and you brainstorm ways to make it better. Speed will return an investment on your time, allowing you more freed up time to do the things that are important to you in your life. But only if you seek to grow, not if you just want to get faster to get faster.
Cost – More than Stretching the Dollar
What about efficiency in costs? When we think about cutting costs, we tend to think that means lower quality. We think we have to sacrifice quality in order to spend less money. But what if that’s not true? What if, in our search for greater efficiency, we find that we have actually been wasting money in some areas. Then we consolidate and make changes, cut out wastefulness, and now, we have more money to spend in places where it’s needed. What about that?
We firmly believe that great quality can come affordably. This doesn’t mean it is cheap, it means that the process to create the product or provide the service has been so streamlined, that little to no bulk expenses exist. One way we’ve done this with our agency is cutting out the middle man between our clients and our creatives. We noticed in other companies that a lot of client funds were being spent on the middle man – the “go between” for the creative supplying the work, say a logo, and the client who commissioned said logo. Not only did this suck away at the time resource, but it also heavily padded the bill for the client. We’re not saying that all middle involvement is bad – sometimes, you want to have someone to communicate for you and distill out only the things you request, to save you time personally – but we believe it’s important to identify when it is needed and when it is just fluff. Because fluff is inefficient, no matter which side of the equation you are on.
A Win-Win Situation
In closing, as you seek to be more efficient – whether in your time, your rate of speed, or your cost of doing things – you’ll find that as you win, everyone else wins. When you get your time freed up, your family and loved ones win. When you get your speed increased, your employees and your clients win. And when you get your dollars to do more for you, your clients win and your business wins. Seek to improve, seek to grow, and seek out areas that are inefficient, so you can make the most of what you have.
For more on the topic, check out our podcast episode about efficiency.