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5 Methods to Improve Your Small Business

In a 2021 survey of small business owners, 52% said they felt stressed over the course of the year. Another 2022 national survey of small business owners has these crazy statistics:

42% of small business owners said they have experienced burnout in the past month; 24% reported they are currently experiencing burnout.

As a business owner, you can either be super stressed/burnt-out and barely treading water, or you can be a relaxed and happy pilot flying high in the sky.

Which type of business are you? Treading water or flying high?

No one wants to be simply keeping their business afloat, but a lot of times we as small businesses can only do just that. Barely making payroll. Working 16-hour days just to make sure everything gets done. Leaving the office when all the lights have already been turned off.

Don’t be like this business.

When you’re just treading water to not drown as a business, it’s hard to get out of the cycle of business stagnation. Why?

  1. You don’t have enough mental space left over to think of ways to improve your business.
  2. You keep thinking that you don’t have enough money to get your business out.
  3. You keep throwing yourself at tasks to get done, not the big picture.

So what is the consequence? You keep throwing out buckets of water instead of plugging the holes in the boat. However, with the right strategies and mindset, it is possible for your small business to stop just treading water, build an efficient business plane, and start flying high! Take your business from barely keeping its head above water to flying high in the growth clouds.

Your business, flying high.

So how is this possible? How can we transition our small business from just treading water to flying high?

Let’s explore some effective methods to do just that. Because I’m a big believer in delegation and outsourcing, part of what I suggest is using virtual assistants and outsourced talent to maximize your business’s already stretched resources. However, we’re also going to go over other mindsets and strategies with accompanying data behind why they’re important methods.

Proven Methods to Transition Your Business From Treading Water to Flying High

Method #1: Embrace Virtual Assistants for Increased Efficiency

Virtual assistants are business-life-savers. Period. When I worked at Entrepreneur’s Organization, I heard countless stories about how stressed business owners went from barely keeping things afloat to flying high after they hired their first virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants are so valuable for helping your business streamline operations and maximize efficiency, all at a cost-effective price. By outsourcing administrative tasks, customer support, social media management, and other time-consuming responsibilities, business owners can free up their time and focus on core activities that drive growth.

Watch this video below to see how this 7-figure entrepreneur figured out how to build a virtual assistant team to improve his business.

Your small business can benefit immensely from tapping into the expertise of outsourced talent. Rather than investing time and resources in training or hiring full-time employees for specialized tasks (a definite timesuck), outsourcing allows your business to access a pool of skilled professionals who can deliver high-quality work. Whether it’s graphic design, content creation, IT support, or marketing, outsourcing provides small businesses with the flexibility and scalability to adapt to their evolving needs.

Method #2: Identify Core Competencies & Contract Out the Rest

To fly high, your small business needs to identify its core competencies. These are the things that you are the best at doing and need to be doing. That could be completing digital marketing project designs. Closing sales deals. Building amazing solutions for clients. These are the things your business does, not the things that distract it. For a business to fly high, you need a list of less than 5 core competencies, and you need to have an expert staff to do them. It’s basic business.

The Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) and Starling Bank estimates that the average micro-business and SME owner spends between 60 to 70 hours per month on such tasks as tax returns, reliefs, employment contracts, pensions, auto-enrolment, or health and safety assessments. Now those are definitely not your core competencies, unless you’re a tax company.

By identifying areas where your team excels and delegating non-competencies tasks to either outside consulting firms or businesses, you can shift your focus to value-added activities such as business development and product innovation instead of just staying afloat.

Method #3: Hire A Business Process Consultant

I’ve never heard a business owner say that they regret hiring a business process consultant. They always give great advice to improve your business no matter your industry or processes.

One key benefit of hiring a business process consultant is their objective perspective. Often, small business owners and employees can become too close to their processes, making it difficult to identify areas for improvement. A process consultant brings fresh eyes and a wealth of expertise to the table, enabling them to identify inefficiencies, redundancies, and opportunities that may have been overlooked. Their objective viewpoint allows them to offer unbiased recommendations and implement solutions tailored to the specific needs and goals of the business.

Moreover, business process consultants possess a deep understanding of industry best practices and emerging trends. They stay updated with the latest advancements in technology, tools, and methodologies that can enhance operational efficiency. By leveraging their knowledge and expertise, consultants can introduce innovative solutions and strategies that align with the unique requirements of the business. This can lead to improved productivity, reduced costs, enhanced customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Method #4: Automate Repetitive Tasks

This is probably the biggest way for you to go from treading water to flying high. → Automate. Automate. Automate.

This is mostly what I do as a small business automation consultant on Upwork. Many business processes are copy/paste and inefficient, and I help take them to automated solutions that are easy to maintain.

create automation solutions with tools like Zapier and custom automation scripts to kill repetitive tasks, automate reports, and save you hours of time. By streamlining your processes and automating repetitive tasks with automation tools and an automation expert, you can reclaim valuable time and allocate it towards more important endeavors.

Embrace technology solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM) software (Zoho CRM), project management tools (Asana), and accounting software (Quickbooks) can help optimize efficiency and reduce your manual effort. Keep all your data in one place instead of juggling between 10 different tools to accomplish the same thing.

Automate and simplify. That’ll save your business legs.

Method #5: Develop Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships can open up new avenues for your small business. By partnering with complementary businesses or organizations, you can tap into shared networks, resources, and customer bases. Consider joining Business Network International (BNI), a networking organization to help connect your small business with opportunities and partnerships. Here you can read many stories about how joining BNI helped entrepreneurs thrive. If your business makes over $1 million USD per year, consider joining the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Strategic partnerships can also be at a local scale instead of with a national organization. For instance, you as a local bakery might partner with a coffee shop to cross-promote each other’s products, thereby expanding each of your customer reach. A business consultant might make a strategic partnership with a marketing agency to share business when new deals come in on either side.

Strategic partnerships enable your small business to leverage existing customer trust and increase brand exposure, propelling you towards flying high in the sky. If you don’t have time to develop partnerships like this, hire a consultant or virtual assistant to get the ball rolling.

Final Thoughts

There are many flight paths to flying high towards small business nirvana. The methods I recommend here are backed by hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners who have made vast transformations in their businesses.

Going from merely staying afloat to flying high requires a combination of methods including strategic thinking, leveraging consultants, and making the most efficient use of available resources. Consider embracing virtual assistants and outsourced talent as a powerful way to maximize your business’s time and productivity. Focus on your core competencies and contract the rest. Streamline and automate your processes. Build strategic partnerships and can create a strong foundation for growth.

With determination, adaptability, and a willingness to change, you too can get out of the ocean of neverending timesucks and fly high with other successful small businesses.