So it’s been a good week at the office so far – the sales team has reported some success with those new accounts, development on the new product is ahead of schedule, and there’s been no PR or customer service crisis so far. Even the plants in the corner office are finally thriving. It’s time to kick back, relax, check your Facebook feed and look forward to the weekend… or is it?
If you’re a business owner, you should know better than to rest on your laurels. You need to recognize that there can be a danger of falling into a routine when times are good – and routine often leads to complacency, which leads to stagnation and later, disaster. Avoid that at all cost!
When you’re running your own startup or small business, there’s always something to do to keep you busy. And if you can’t think of anything to do, here are some ideas:
1. Make that one call.
Have a bit of time? Pick up the phone and call that key customer who you’ve not been in touch with for a while. Update each other on the progress of your respective businesses. It may not be a sales call, but maybe there’s a sales lead or referral in that conversation.
Or you can call up your mentor – you have at least one, don’t you? Give them an impromptu status update and get their views on certain issues. If you don’t have a mentor, at least call up one of your key advisors or investors. They are always likely to know something you don’t, and their perspectives – which is certainly different from yours – may prove invaluable. And perhaps they’ve been holding on that industry contact they’ve been meaning to pass to you for some time.
2. Look through your systems and processes.
Business owners usually delay till a certain time of the year before we review our systems and processes, but really, why wait when there’s some time on your hands?
Take some time to review some of your business processes – there are always kinks in the system that trips up your company’s effectiveness and productivity. Perhaps you can audit how employees claim their business expenses, or assess the IT department’s equipment procurement process. There may be time to implement some simple tweaks to improve the way things have been done.
And if things work out, you’ll be glad for the spike in productivity.
3. Undertake a cost-cutting, profit-maximizing initiative.
We’re certainly not suggesting that you initiate salary cuts across the board. But in these days of economic turmoil, every company needs to run as lean as possible. This means looking at cutting any fat and redundancy from the system without compromising effectiveness.
Perhaps you can look at renegotiating various contracts, with the landlord, your suppliers, or with certain service providers. You can, for example, check to see if you’re overpaying for your energy expenses, and switch providers if need be.
When you’re running a business, every dollar counts. Every dollar saved means a longer runway for your business to take off.
4. Learn one new thing about your industry.
Even if we’re experts in our chosen fields, there’s something new to learn. You can pick up a good management or leadership book, attend one relevant conference or seminar (which has the added benefit of networking with new people), or simply keep up-to-date on the latest news in your industry. Such knowledge and the desire to improve keeps us competitive and helps position us at the leading edge of our industries.
Successful business people are always looking to improve themselves, and you should be no different if you want to succeed like they do.
5. Make (at least) one employee happy.
If the most important asset in any company is its people, than keeping up morale is one of the most important tasks for any leader. A happy workplace, after all, is a productive workplace. The trouble is that even during the good times, staff morale can be incredibly fickle and happiness levels vary from employee to employee.
So take some time to identify an employee who needs a pep-talk – bring the person out for a chat over coffee or lunch. Send someone home early. In a nutshell, do something nice for someone in the office. Just make sure you spread the love to prevent any whispers of favoritism.
And imagine what that does for staff loyalty.
So you still think there’s nothing to do in the office today? Think again.