The Real Secret to Making Your Business More Productive

By Jason Ganz on May 27, 2014

Running a business is hard. Making your business productive is even harder. We all know there are things we could do to make our work better, our teams more collaborative and our customers happier. Yet sometimes it’s hard to find a place to start. No one can tell you exactly the right decisions for your business. But here’s a great framework to help you get started.

Start with Why:

The single most important thing you can do to improve the productivity of your business is to get your employees invested in the mission of the company. In his legendary Ted Talk, Simon Sinek explains how great leaders inspire action. They get every person in the company to understand the company’s vision and values.

“It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it”, Sinek repeats over and over. Before you can improve productivity through improving your process or tools, you need to find your “purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do”.

Some of you might be thinking, “my business isn’t that interesting, I just do this to pay the bills. I don’t have a why”. Every business can have a why.

Take GoCanvas for example, on the surface, we are about helping people replace their paper forms with mobile apps. Yet that isn’t our why. Our why is to help businesses reimagine how they collect and use information. Replacing paper forms wouldn’t be enough to inspire and motivate our teams. Changing the way the world does business certainly is.

Metrics, Metrics, Metrics

Now that you know your why, it’s time to learn your what. You need to dig deep into all of your business processes and find the factors that influences your profits. These are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These can vary wildly from business to business and they won’t always be what you expect.

Say you own a plumbing company. One of your KPIs could be the number of service calls your employees make. But, that isn’t very specific and it isn’t very actionable. For better results, decide on something much more specific, such as the number of service calls your employees make worth greater than $1000 to returning customers. This tells you two things – that you want to satisfy your customers, so that they will hire you again, and that you want to focus towards higher end jobs. This gives you a concrete, definable goal to work towards.

At GoCanvas, two of our KPIs are what you would expect: number of trial user sign ups and percentage of trial users that convert to paying accounts. Yet, we also have one that most people wouldn’t guess – the percentage of trial users that submit a form. There’s a simple reason for this. We have found that users who submit a form are much more likely to convert to paying customers than those who don’t. Therefore, if we increase the number of users who submit a form once, we will increase our number of paying customers.

Free your information

Even the most carefully selected KPIs can’t help your business if you are the only one that knows about them. If you arm your employees with the information to make informed business decisions, you will be astounded by how well they do.  But this only works if they aren’t running blindly through the dark.

At GoCanvas, we have a shared folder which stores important company documents. Everyone in the company has access to these based on the belief that workers who are empowered with information about their company will be better able to make decisions. It’s impossible to know exactly what your employees will need from the data that your company produces.  If you grant them the agency to make their own choices about the information they need, you will be astonished by the results.

We aren’t the only company with a focus on transparency. Buffer takes this to the next level by revealing their metrics, sharing their stories, and bringing you inside the company. Why? Because they want to help others create honest and authentic appearance on social media, they hold themselves to the same standards. That honesty has helped them grow and thrive.

In the end, the best thing you can do for your company’s productivity is to make sure that you have an engaged, accountable and informed workforce. These strategies will create different metrics, philosophies, and cultures depending on your business. But, you’ll have a passionate workforce eager to help your company thrive.

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