Business Best Practices
Put simply, success in business is largely about being an effective leader. Of course, there’s more to it than just that, but if you are a strong leader and a good manager, that will carry you a long way. The right leader motivates their team and knows how to implement best practices at every level of operations. They have the knowledge of how to achieve the best results with the greatest efficiency and the least effort.
Some people get their start by pursuing an MBA; others learn in the trenches. Regardless of where you get your skills, the best means of achieving success are the same across the board. There is a range of best practices to consider in your business, and the more you can implement, the better off you’ll be. Following these paths will help to deliver your business to the heights of success.
What Are Business Best Practices?
Business best practices are those techniques and methods that have been proven and accepted to be more effective than other alternatives. These methods produce superior results and often become standardized as the way to deal with things. They are a benchmark for maintaining quality and can be based on techniques for self-assessment.
Put simply, a best practice involves discovering and using the best ways to achieve your objectives. It means staying on top of the current trends in your industry, establishing benchmarks that allow you to compare your company with others and highlighting those areas where you might be in need of improvement.
What Best Practices Help You Do
Best practices are essential in being competitive in your industry. They help increase your sales, develop new leads and convert them into customers and markets, lower costs and improve operational efficiency. They can aid with workforce development, reduce waste in terms of money and man-hours, improve the efficiency of your technology use and allow you to quickly respond to both problems at work and new innovations.
Every business out there has areas for improvement. The most common operational areas for improvement through implementing best practices include quality assurance, supply chain management, stock and delivery control, ordering and purchasing and information technology management.
KPIs: How to Achieve Best Practices
As you start developing business best practices, there are a number of tools you need to apply. These include benchmarking, financial and strategic planning, forecasting and performance monitoring. You should start with the introduction of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are a way to measure your progress while helping you to identify areas that are in need of attention. They can measure everything from profitability and sales to turnover and quality.
Of course, there’s no universal list of KPIs. You will need to establish these based on your individual business. Make sure they’re related to your total objectives, are clear and measurable and will provide the indicators you need. You also don’t need to stick with a single initial set. You can evaluate, add, and change your KPIs as needed, and you should. This should be a continually evolving process.
People management is key to your business. Those who are able to attract and retain the best workers naturally have the most success. Developing key strategies to cultivate the best talent and build company loyalty requires involving your employees at every step, being flexible to your staff’s needs, encouraging diversity and equality among the workforce, rewarding the achievement of goals, providing the kind of development and training that encourages loyalty, and finally, keeping an open line of communication at all levels.
Why People Management Matters
People management is essential, frankly, because in many ways, your staff knows your business better than you. This might seem surprising, but in the end, management doesn’t spend as much time in the trenches as staff does. Your staff is ideally poised to see where processes can be improved, where changes need to be structured and where things are working. They can make you aware of inefficiencies in your processes, and let you know where customers’ most common complaints lie.
Listen to your staff and encourage them to be open and communicative. This will enable you to use their observations and knowledge and will make them feel like an important part of the company. In the end, you’ll improve operations while building company loyalty among your staff.
In order to be an effective leader, you need to develop workers who are willing and eager to perform. Worker engagement is essential to your business success. When a worker feels alienated, they’re not going to deliver their best performance. At best, they’ll do the bare minimum to not get fired; at worst, they’ll actively be looking to get out.
When a worker is engaged, challenged and encouraged at work, they will be more enthusiastic, more eager to prove themselves and more productive. They will be more active in taking responsibility for what they do, and they will also help to draw new talent for the company.
The Carrot vs. the Stick
Too many companies still operate on the stop sign policy — that is, you get punished for not doing what you’re supposed to, but there’s no reward for meeting benchmarks. Quite simply, this is poor management. People gain a sense of value and self-worth from being acknowledged. They want to be thanked for a job well done. The better you reward employees for good work, the more you’ll foster company loyalty, and the better performance you’ll get.
Indeed, the right rewards can even encourage healthy competition when people are working harder to be the ones who reap the benefits.
Be Seen and Available
Many managers stay distant from their staff in an effort to appear flawless and unimpeachable. This also, unfortunately, makes you less human in the eyes of your workers, and more difficult to relate to. You need to be in the trenches, seen by your employees and sometimes be vulnerable. This is crucial to team dynamics. You need to speak openly and be open to criticism and other ideas. It’s the best way to build trust.
Show Your Commitment
Trust is essential to team building and success. In order to build trust, you need to be committed to your company business and show that commitment. The more committed and enthusiastic you are, the more your employees will also be committed. When everyone is on the same page and enthusiastic, this also means they trust each other and will work together much better.
When teams don’t trust each other, on the other hand, they tend to spend a lot of time and effort in avoiding conflict. They don’t tell each other what they think, they don’t share ideas, and they don’t try to find common ground. This creates a cycle of dysfunction which will degrade your operations.
Be Clear and Focused
This is key to your success. You need to be absolutely clear and avoid ambiguity in all things. Many companies simply lack clarity, which leads to different levels of management being on different pages. Everyone needs to understand your company mission, your culture, what you do, the path to success, how to prioritize tasks and most of all, whose job it is to perform which function. Without clear objectives, goals, culture and behavior benchmarks, no company can succeed in what they do.
Clarity leads to cohesiveness, and cohesiveness creates a shared set of values across the entire company. This will produce efficient work, improved outcomes and better staff development. In addition, the more clear you are, the less time you’ll have to spend educating and clarifying. You won’t have to waste time getting everyone on the right page. You’ll be able to direct a laser focus on team dynamics and keeping everyone moving forward.
Hire Based on Company Values
When you interview for new jobs, hire based on your company’s core values over specific skills and experience. While it may seem counterintuitive to take this approach, consider this: An outstanding staff member who is in lockstep with your company culture can always be trained and developed. An experienced and skilled worker who doesn’t fit with your culture, on the other hand, will be looking for an out as soon as possible, and they might take your company’s processes and knowledge with them.
Communication is Key
You hear this a lot, but regular, clear and ongoing lines of communication are absolutely essential to your success. Nobody likes meetings, but regular meetings are an ideal way to accomplish this. Make sure, however, that your meetings are structured and have a clear agenda. General state-of-the-union meetings rarely accomplish anything, and they rob you of important progress hours. This isn’t to say they’re not important, but quarterly meetings are plenty to handle general company progress and touching-base issues.
Rather, for your more frequent meetings, make sure every meeting has a clear purpose. Is it tactical? Is it strategic? Is it measuring specific, quantifiable benchmarks? Make sure you have a clear idea of the issues to be resolved.
Innovation is vital to the success of any business. Nobody ever made it big by being the same as everyone else. You want your business at all levels to be creative and innovative. This helps you to stay a step ahead of your competition, ensures products and services stay up to date and ensures you’re always meeting your customers’ needs, even those they didn’t know they had.
Creating a culture of innovation via best practices requires constant evaluation of your existing products and services, standards and procedures to identify areas for improvements. Stay abreast of all the latest innovations and look for ways to improve them. Listen to ideas from staff and explore them. Sometimes inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Innovation doesn’t always need to be something huge and game-changing, either. Even the smallest change can make a big difference in the eyes of your customers. Don’t eschew small progress because you’re looking for the next big thing.
Study, Prepare and Apply
Every business wants to engage best practices. Where most fail, however, is neglecting to prepare, study and apply upgrades to their best practices constantly. Establishing and using best practices is a constant process of identification, evaluation and implementation. You need to look for areas of improvement at all times. Spend time studying current trends and practices in your industry. Look into ways that these metrics can be applied to your individual needs.
While you’re investigating other companies, don’t just look at your closest competitors, but also other businesses that offer similar but divergent services from you. Look at businesses of all sizes, from small startups to major corporations.
Look at your competition and see how they are operating, how they’re solving problems and how they’re meeting customer needs. Then, look at how you’re currently handling these issues and modify your approach accordingly. While best practices are an outstanding way to keep your company operating at its most efficient and effective level, they’re not something you can just slap on like a bandage and run with. They require commitment and dedication to keeping up to date.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to spend months of painstaking research to find the information you need. A couple weeks of research and interviews are usually plenty for a small business to gain knowledge about the newest trends in business best practices.
Key Points in Best Practices
Remember that your best practices need to align with your company strategy, while also improving productivity and reducing cost. They should be easy to implement and execute and enable you to make better decisions while leveraging the most current technologies. They should create exceptional risk management strategies while optimizing what your company has to offer through internal and external collaboration.
If you’re in need of funding, advice and resources for taking your small business to the next level, look for an online lender. From webinars to guides and infographics, you can find a complete suite of small business resources that can help you develop best practices for your business.