What is the smallest change you have made in your business that has had the biggest positive result?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. We Write Everything Down
After verbally telling team members how to do X, Y and Z for years, we adopted the practice of writing everything down in one location. It avoided the dreaded ‘he said/she said’ debate and, in the process, built an operations manual that we refer to daily. The best part? When I leave for vacation, there are no ‘urgent’ emails cluttering up my inbox because my team knows what to do.
2.We Have Silence Days
Every Tuesday and Thursday at our company is known as a ‘silence day,’ where we are encouraged not to chat, email, talk to or schedule meetings with other employees. This is a day when you can fully focus on your work with[out] any distractions. Since doing this, we’ve seen almost a 60% rise in productivity among all workers. The programming department is up almost 90%. Try it and start small with one day.
3.We Flipped the Roles of Certain Teams for Two Weeks
In a lean organization, everyone should have a firm grasp on what others in the company do on a daily basis so that they can put themselves in others’ shoes and understand how to improve in their own roles. This understanding thereby improves the company more as a whole, and forces business people to understand the product better (and to sell it better) and vice versa.
4.We Added Scheduling Tools
Since I do so much online with content, I’ve found scheduling tools to be very helpful in increasing my productivity. It’s changed how I produce content for various outlets to the point where I’m getting more done than if I just produced the content as a due date arrived. It’s amazing how suddenly scheduling content in batches has enabled me to do more, but it works.
5.We Increased Our Pricing
Once I stopped selling $20 products and started selling $500-$2,500 products, my business exploded. The economics work in your favor, assuming you invest in your brand and ongoing relationship marketing. Your top customers WANT to spend more money with you. If you don’t give them the opportunity, you’ll never grow.
6.I Stay at Home When I’m Sick
In today’s world, taking a sick day is usually unheard of. People try to ‘push through’ and to ‘be a team player.’ However, we found that not only did it further delay our sick employee’s recovery, it inevitably always got one or more other team members sick. We now kindly implement the policy that if you are sick you spare us all and stay home. You’ll get better faster and we will stay well.
7.We Have New Team Members Spend Time With Customers
Every single time a new team member rotates into a position where they are working more with customers, they come back with several major points of improvement for our product or delivery process. When your offerings are getting stale, switch up who spends time with the customer. And if you’re a CEO, you should spend time with them too.
8. We Focus on Specific Product Launches
We have a seasonal business, and in the fashion industry, everyone adheres to it. Instead of releasing one big collection and marketing it all together every season, we decided to focus on individual product launches, and saw a 40% increase in sales. Focusing on specific items and building them up for release was one of the defining adjustments that changed our business.
9. We Focus on Selling Value
For years, we were selling price on a comparatively superior product thinking this was the only way to win business. After shifting our mindset to selling the value of our products, it turned out the price was less important to our customers. Aside from healthier margins on our balance sheet, we gained much better clients who are easier to work with.
10. I Use Automatic Filters to Tame My Inbox
Email is the No. 1 time-suck in my life. So I use a couple of dozen filters to make sure I only see in my inbox what it is truly urgent. Emails from different teams and projects in my business go to different folders, while newsletters and automated emails go elsewhere. I then use subject keywords and to/from addresses to set up rules deciding which messages go where.
11. We Added Group Chats
Initially, I thought this would be a time sync and distraction. However, now we have a searchable bank for our historical questions, a place where people who aren’t the newbies anymore can gain confidence by sharing their knowledge, and, best of all, we minimize how many times we get the same question from several people.
12. We Identified the Key KPIs for Every Role
Identifying the KPIs per job role was a relatively small change that has had an alarmingly positive result. Depending on the metric, we like to force the individual to look at their KPI every day/week/month/quarter/year. Enforcing this practice instills the value and importance of the KPI related to each position.
– Andy Eastes, SkuVault
13. We’ve Refocused on the Right, Critical Numbers
We refocused our business efforts onto the right business targets. We moved away from quantity of business to focus on profits and adjusted our objectives to focus on net revenue. This included an alignment of incentives and bonuses with key metrics and activities that measured and advanced profitability versus top-line growth.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.