Beat the bottlenecks in your business

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.40.07 AMBottlenecks in your business are like having a bad head cold. Just as your nose gets congested and your head feels heavy when you’re sick, so too does your business when experiencing a bottleneck. You’ll notice your workflow gets clogged and your business becomes sluggish and inefficient.

Symptoms also include piles of paper on and around your desk, tasks remaining undone and rising stress levels.

The first step in finding relief is to identify the bottlenecks. That’s not always easy to do on your own, so I’ve put together a list of the top five common business bottlenecks and what you can do to beat them.

Five common business bottlenecks

1.  Too many inboxes

Bottleneck:  Inboxes are places where you collect all the information flowing into your office. When you have too many collection areas, bottlenecks arise, clutter creeps in and things slip through the cracks.

Solution:  Have only two inboxes in your workspace: digital and paper. Your digital inbox is your email inbox. For paper, I recommend a tray sitting on or within arm’s reach of your desk. As a rule, clear out both inboxes on a daily basis.

2.  Duplication of efforts

Bottleneck: You reinvent the wheel with each new task or project. Having no clear process for doing repetitive work slows you down and overtaxes your brain.

Solution:  Develop a system for repetitive tasks and write them down in your Operations Manual. (If you don’t have an Operations Manual, now is a great time to start one.) When there is a task at hand, refer to the steps you’ve documented and follow them. There is less strain on your brain and you’ll complete the task quickly and easily.

3.  Doing it all yourself

Bottleneck: As entrepreneurs it’s in our DNA to feel like we should do everything in our business. This could include building your website, writing all you social media updates, or tackling your accounting.

Solution:  Outsource some of the operational tasks in your business. I understand you may not be in a financial position to spend the money on outside help right now; however, it’s something to consider when your money situation changes. The time you spend building your website, doing your bookkeeping or updating your social media channels could be better spent finding more clients and doing the work you love to do.

4.  Not being in sync

Bottleneck: Smartphones have given us the ability to plugged into our business from anywhere. This has pros and cons too, but we’ll save that for another blog! The point is this: if your email, calendar and task list aren’t in sync with all your devices confusion, frustration and wasted time will result.

Solution: Ensure all your devices and information are in sync. To run your business efficiently, you need to be confident that all your information is consistent across all your devices. If you make an appointment on your smartphone, does it automatically sync to the calendar on your computer? (Tip: Syncing your devices can be complicated and frustrating. If this is the case for you, it is a task best left to the pros … see point 3 above.)

5.  Too many To Do lists

Bottleneck: Many entrepreneurs have a multitude of To Do lists: various notebooks, sticky notes, scraps of paper, notepads, apps. You name it, there’s a task written on it.

Solution: Have one master list for your tasks and projects. Being a creative entrepreneur, it’s natural to write tasks and ideas down as they come to you. This involves grabbing the closest piece of paper and pen you can find. Be mindful when this happens and only reach for your master list. Whether it’s digital or paper, keep that list close at hand at all times.

Does your business suffer from any of these bottlenecks?  Schedule your free 15 minute consultation to find out how I can help!

Now it’s your turn

Which of these bottlenecks resonate most for you? Do you have others? Share your comments below and let’s continue the conversation.

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