Every small business owner needs a handle on productivity improvement techniques. Because running a small business is one of the most challenging things a person can do. It is by no means an easy task.

But being an entrepreneur is also rewarding at many different levels. It provides a sense of achievement and self-satisfaction; it allows the individual to take control of his/her own work life; it helps business owners turn dreams into reality.

Those in the know realise that starting a small business is one thing; maintaining and growing it is something else entirely. In order to continually take a business to the next level, owners have to maximise productivity for themselves and their staff. Below are some productivity improvement techniques for doing just that.

Invest in Technology

The whole point of using technology is to increase efficiency. For small businesses that have routinely shied away from technology, one of the most important productivity improvement techniques to embrace is electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems capable of streamlining most, if not all, back office functions. For example, consider a bed-and-breakfast that has always done things using pen, paper, and filing cabinets.

An electronic POS system can be used for multiple purposes. It can be an electronic till that processes payments when guests arrive. It can be used to keep track of kitchen inventory, schedule room cleaning and laundry service, and even handle future bookings prior toguest departure. Tying it all together are features that aid with back office accounting.

Set Aside the E-Mail

Most entrepreneurs have no idea how much e-mail distracts them from the business of the day. The successful small business owner sets aside checking e-mail for at least the first 60 minutes of every workday; some even go as long as 90 or 120 minutes before tackling e-mail.

Along those same lines, make it a practice of not responding to unimportant e-mail. A lot of people send e-mail that is completely unnecessary; e-mail that wastes time. If you ignore such e-mail long enough, people will stop sending it to you.

Limit Meetings to 30 Minutes

Imagine a bar owner calling a meeting to discuss the new iPad POS system that was just recently deployed. How long do you think that meeting should last? If it lasts more than 30 minutes, that bar owner will be wasting his time.

People tend to tune out after 20 to 30 minutes, thereby rendering excessive meeting time useless. A better option would be to conduct several meetings over a couple of weeks to disseminate all the information. The bar owner could deal with the iPad cash register in one meeting, inventory control in another, and so on.

Productivity Improvement Techniques: Prioritise Daily Tasks

A small business owner who does not know how to prioritise is one who is not going to be enjoying much success in building a business. Smart entrepreneurs prioritise in order to maintain their sanity. Priorities should be written down, and followed through on, every single day, beginning with the least desirable tasks.

Why do the least desirable tasks first? Because getting them out of the way prevents you from worrying about them all day. You will also have the energy at the start of the day to get the tasks done quickly and correctly.

Automate Whatever You Can

There are lots of things that can be automated in the average small business. For example, end-of-shift accounting can be automatically managed with an iPad point-of-sale system with the appropriate integrated functionality.

At the end of a server or bartender’s shift, the only thing that needs to be done is the reconciliation of the cash in the till. The point-of-sale system has kept track of everything else.

Automatic accounting is one of the best aspects of using electronic point-of-sale systems. The best systems on the market utilise a single entry model so that every transaction sends data to other modules as necessary. It makes accounting at the end of the day, month, quarter and year easier than it’s ever been before.

Give Your Team a Reason to Succeed

Unfortunately, the business world has treated employees as human resources for far too long. Workers are not comparable to office supplies and equipment. They are people with their own thoughts, dreams, ambitions, and desires. Treat them that way. Give them a reason to succeed in the workplace.

One way is to offer your team members a vested interest in the success of the business. You might offer quarterly performance bonuses or set up a system of privately held shares that are awarded to employees at the end of the year, based on performance.

Whichever way you decide to do it, set something up so that your team has something to aim for. When they stand to win or lose based on company performance, they have a reason to give their best.

Leave Your Work at the Office

One of the most challenging aspects of any small business is leaving work at the office when it’s time to go home. Small business owners are notorious for working long hours, then carrying their work with them in their minds when they are supposed to be relaxing. Nothing is more destructive to a small business than this practice.

Being able to leave your work at the office is one of the most important productivity improvement techniques that must be learned. Those who learn it are able to recharge at the end of every day; they are able to face the next day ready to go. Those who do not master it are compromising their work-life balance, which in turn will impact both their business success and personal time.

It’s okay that a particular product pricing in your iPad till was £5 less than it should have been yesterday. It’s not the end of the world. As long as it’s not repeated, you can chalk it up to an innocent mistake and move on. Likewise, that disagreement you had with one of your vendors is not life-altering. It’s just business.

Small business offers an incredible opportunity to entrepreneurs who want the challenge of working for themselves. If you are an entrepreneur, get out there and go for it. Set the above seven productivity improvement techniques in motion and go build your successful business!