by Alicia Lawrence, WebpageFX
I had a professor in college who swore by the pick two strategy. He said that in business you want everything you do to be low-cost, delivered quickly and to be high quality but that’s pretty much impossible. He maintained that in any situation, you will only be able to achieve two out of three of those attributes. It only took a few days in my first job before I realized that he was right. If you want quality and you want it fast, it isn’t going to come cheap. If you want low cost and delivered quickly, you won’t get good quality.
When growing your business, it is imperative to keep this pick two strategy in mind as you implement methods to scale your work without losing quality. Here are five ways you can either speed up your process or maintain a low-cost without sacrificing quality.
Plan for the Future.
Whether you’ve just started your business, or looking to successfully navigate a period of growth, you need a clear vision and a solid plan. You can’t wait until you’re in crisis mode to start setting your standards, cementing procedures and crafting your strategies.
Start by casting a vision for your company. Take the time at the outset (or if you’ve left the starting line, take some time right now) to determine your long term goals for the company. Once you know where you want to go, put strategies and milestones in place to get there. Don’t just figure out what you need to get started or what you need to get by. Failing to plan ahead is the same as planning to fail.
Spend Time to Save Time.
After putting in the time creating a vision for your company’s future, invest some time in creating guidelines to help you achieve that vision.
Put your plan in writing. Create a manual that clearly states your business’s vision, defines your standards of quality and lays out the chain of command. By thinking through these key areas and putting your plan in writing, you will save yourself time and stress in the future. If the expectations and responsibilities are clear, you’ll spend less time putting out fires and micro-managing, and more time serving your customers and growing your business.
Don’t be afraid to be detailed. Have employees or partners help you create instruction manuals for individual tasks or positions. Providing new employees with detailed reference material will empower them to aid in their own training and reduce the amount of time spent answering questions.
Harness the Power of Social Media.
Social media provides fresh marketing opportunities for little to no cost. Utilize Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest to advertise your brand and increase your market. Adopt strategies that will encourage personal, relational brand loyalty.
While successful social media strategies require consistent monitoring and updates, there are many tools that allow you to simplify or automate parts of the process. Sites like If This Then That (IFTTT) allow you to create personal recipes that trigger set actions, cutting down on the time you spend managing your social media presence. Much like building an in-house tool or an Excel formula, sites like IFTTT help reduce the time you have to spend on recurring and minute tasks.
Find Ways to Outsource.
Time saved can be just as valuable as money saved. Outsourcing will still require you to provide compensation for services rendered (though often at a lower cost), but it provides invaluable returns in time saved.
Ask yourself what tasks you can outsource. Could your social media manager devote more time to growing your email list if he didn’t have to write copy? Outsource your blogging to freelancers. Or maybe your marketing team could increase productivity if you outsourced social media management altogether. What about outsourcing HR or hiring a virtual assistant? I worked as a virtual assistant when I was working towards my online degree and was able to help take off a lot of monotonous tasks that otherwise the entrepreneur would have to do. He told me afterwards that he couldn’t believe the productivity increase he had when he could focus on what truly mattered to him in his business.
Time is money. Identifying tasks to outsource will increase the time you can devote to scaling your business.
During this time of scaling your business, remember to never lose the quality your company offers. Be a source of reliability for your customers. Meet deadlines. Follow up. Anticipate needs. Own up to mistakes. By earning customer loyalty, you earn free and passionate marketing sources.
Invest in your employees. Encourage employees to grow, to problem solve and take on new responsibilities. Keep yourself free to oversee the big picture by empowering employees to take recurring tasks off your plate.
Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by the Hot in Social Media, Yahoo! Small Business, and PR Daily. Find Alicia on Google+.