3 Steps to a Faster Business

Tuning up your company’s metabolism could have amazing results.

Today’s customers are savvier than ever, and they have higher expectations. If your company can’t deliver better products and services at a reasonable price, they’ll quickly find someone else who will.

In such a demanding environment, speed can be a competitive edge. Business leaders must be able to swiftly change when things aren’t working and respond to new opportunities as fast as possible.

How can you make your business faster? Here are three pivotal steps you can take.

1. Focus on a Faster Business

Establish a strategic focus across the organization on business speed, and communicate that to everyone in your organization. Constant attention and energy should be devoted to making all things faster. What does that look like in practice?

» You hold weekly discussions on slow spots across the organization, from advertising through collections.

» Your team constantly works to identify critical, customer-impacting time-savers. How can you save time in the order-capture process or deliver your products to customers faster?

» You eliminate bottlenecks and manual approval points wherever it’s reasonable to do so. Do you as the owner need to review every step in the production process, or could you establish “check-ins” at select points?

» You and your staff hold occasional “what-if” sessions to push the limits on false barriers that might be slowing down your systems, processes and talent.

2. Invest in Innovation

Next, provide innovation training to leaders in your organization, because increasing the speed of your business is absolutely a process of innovation and transformation.

Specifically, innovation leaders need to be trained in:

»  Critical decision-making systems and techniques—knowing when and how to apply each.

» Intelligence-gathering techniques that help them identify root causes of problems, outline options and take action.

» The “fail fast, fail cheap” mindset, which enables people to test new strategies and adjust them in rapid weekly cycles.

» Auto-approval points, as a way to foster speed in day-to-day business decisions. For example, all work orders under $25,000 could be automatically approved, without management approval required to move forward.

3. Organize for Informed Decisions

Set up your business so that everyone has access to the right information at the right time to make the right decision. Digital media has exploded the volume of information available to people on all topics, but you do not need more information—you need better information. The information should enable people to perform their jobs better and faster without risk.

» Concentrate on answers, not information collection. Information shouldn’t be collected for its own sake; it needs to serve a business purpose.

» Set thresholds for acceptable results, and couple them with early warning notices when the results fall out-of-bounds. For example, an online retailer might expect its orders to be fulfilled within 48 hours of being placed. If a certain percentage of orders aren’t shipping within that time frame, management should be alerted.

» Put more of the decision-making intel in the hands of the customer. By offering more information on your products and services up front—say, on your website—you allow customers to “sell themselves” before they ever contact you.

As the business owner, you’re the catalyst for leading your company to a brighter future. To do that, you’ll need a playbook that everyone on your staff can understand and get behind. And you’ll need to create an excitement and urgency that leads your team members to increase their business speed.

Remember to “lead yourself,” too. It’s easy to succumb to the daily grind and put off paying attention to critical elements of your operations. Be sure to take time to get above the fray and focus on increasing the speed of your business.