As a business owner I bet you’re often caught up in the day-to-day running of your business, leaving little time for you to focus on business growth. You’ve probably heard of the saying; “working in the business instead of on the business”.

This statement is especially pertinent for small business owners.

The only way out is for you to start prioritising things that will have an impact on your business growth over those that do not (i.e. day-to-day tasks that keep your business afloat). Easier said than done considering you probably have a lot on your plate -plus your business isn’t going to run itself.

The best way to overcome this challenge is to streamline some of your day-to-day processes in order to free up time, then use the free time you create to formulate a growth plan, and take action one small step at a time to help reach your goals.

How do I find processes to streamline?

Processes that are ideal for streamlining are:

  • Manual where errors often happen resulting in rework
  • Frustrating or challenging to perform (i.e. pain points)
  • Time consuming to perform

I have found some of the processes I want to streamline, now what?

The first step is to map the process using a flowchart and make note of how much time each step takes to complete. Doing this will enable you to “picture” the overall process (step-by-step) and pinpoint the bottlenecks.

For example, imagine you are a physio clinic and the process that you want to streamline the process for providing physio treatment to your new patients. The rationale behind this is that quite a number of patients not returning to the clinic for other injuries after the first one is treated, or in some cases after the first session!

Process map

After mapping the process, you have identified that it is taking approximately 30 mins before you actually started treating your new patient. Therefore, your new patient is only receiving 25 mins worth of treatment, which may not be enough depending on the severity of the injury. Because they are new, they may think it’s not long enough or the service was great, causing them not to return and very likely not referring the clinic to their friends and family.

You think the steps that are causing the bottleneck in the process are the ones that involve completion of ACC and patient forms and ensuring the details are correct. But before jumping right in to solve the issue, it’s worth determining the root cause of the issue.

I like to use a technique called the “5 Why’s” (but often 3 is enough), as sometimes the problem might just be a symptom of another. Only by solving the problem at the root will ensure all the downstream problems are eliminated.

Let’s say the problem you’re seeing is that “new patient is only receiving 25 mins worth of treatment”, you begin to ask why:

The Whys Technique

You now realised that you could actually save some time for both yourself and your new patients by getting them to complete the forms before their first appointment, so all you have to do is go over the details with your new patient and fill in the blanks. If you didn’t go through this exercise you would probably just extend the treatment time for all new patients, but as your business grows, it’s not going to be sustainable because you will have less time for your existing patients. Plus there are only so many hours you can work in a day and we want to start getting you working “on your business”.

Once you know the why, the how will become easier.

What next?

What we have just given you is a quick fix that will help save you some time, which is fixing the inefficiencies within your processes. But there there are ways to save even more time.

Depending on the process and the bottlenecks you’re dealing with, but you can also:

  1.     Automate – using technology to perform the processes automatically (or some of the steps)
  2.     Delegate – handing over the responsibility to your staff
  3.     Outsource – using external services to complete the task for you

Take some time to discover the processes you can streamline using the above approach! My next post will explain the options above in detail and will help you decided which ones are right for you.