Tim Ferris once said:
“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash. How’s that for incentive to be effective and efficient?”
Ferris, The Four Hour Workweek
This is wise advice. The importance of automation in business is huge. Using computer programs to reduce work puts your company in a place where you will dominate your competition (Shameless plug: contact us for more information on how we can automate your processes. We’ll save you money and give you a competitive edge!)
However, automation is but one portion of a strategy to put your business on top. Like a finely carved statue, you must first cut away that which is inefficient or unneeded. Oftentimes, inefficient processes are simply a crutch. They may have been necessary at one time, but as your business and clients changed, they just became something that “we’ve always done.”
In order to eliminate wasteful procedures, make it a habit to regularly question your operations. Mentally think through a few key questions and re-evaluate accordingly:
- Is this process doing anything that is achieved by something else? – This includes things like having a customer fill out a customer info sheet that is later entered into the computer. Skip the paper step and enter it directly. Then when the customer comes in the next time, you’ll see the info has already been entered. It will save you both time and frustration.
- Can I eliminate the task without causing harm? – What is the worst that could happen? If you eliminate a task and it only causes a little issues, ask yourself if those issues are worth the cost of continuing the task. Oftentimes, the more streamlined process will make you and the customer happier.
- Does the current process cause frustration? – This seems obvious, but so often we accept the status quo. There is a chance that you require an employee or yourself to go through a process again and again that just frustrates everyone. Maybe it is time you find a better way to do it, eliminate it entirely, or automate it.
- Do others like me do this too? – If your competition has eliminated the process, think about why they did. Maybe this gives you an edge, but maybe they are more efficient and they have the edge. Evaluate your options and determine the best course of action.
In the end, you know your business better than anyone. Make sure eliminating a task makes sense, but also don’t be afraid to do it. If you are afraid to make the jump, talk it over with your employees and maybe start with the elimination on an experimental basis. But by all means, simplify, simplify, simplify when possible!