No niche or industry ever sits still, and therefore, neither should your business. Continuous improvement is one of the things that separates successful, high-profile businesses from firms that wind up being a blip on the screen. If you neglect it too much, it can be easy for you and your upper management to get comfortable with the status quo. Then you slip into a habit of accepting all kinds of sub-standard results. If you’re looking to instigate some continuous improvement at your business, here are some of our best tips.
It’s a big mistake for business owners to think that they should be the only ones giving feedback. When processes at your business are failing, you’ll always see the results of it, but it’s not always that easy to see the root of the issue. This is essential if you want to rub these issues out as your business grows and develops. Make sure you’re soliciting feedback from your workforce on an ongoing basis. Often, they’ll be much more intimate with the issues facing the business than you. Keep open to suggestions, and your business will naturally begin to improve.
Identify Changing Requirements
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: business never sits still. The needs of your business, and the standards of your industry as a whole, will change a lot over time. You need to be keeping your finger on the pulse, and taking steps so that you can change your processes accordingly. Often, identifying the changing needs of your business is easy, and can be done by adopting simple habits. For example, you could make it part of your morning routine to read some industry journals or something more specific like an SEO blog. Think about the biggest requirements of your business as they stand today, and any immediate changes you can apply to meet them more effectively.
Share More Information
Even when the company is one of the smallest in its niche, silos can start to form. Encouraging more sharing within the organization will help all your workers stay in touch with what other areas of the business are doing. This, in turn, creates a common expectation. Getting everyone working towards the same end goal in any organization can be extremely hard. However, sharing a lot of information about where the company’s headed, along with the reasoning behind big decisions, will help a lot.
There are countless start-up owners out there which show a distinct lack of interest in documenting what they’re doing. They play things fast and loose, which has become a major staple in the culture of the modern start-up. It’s generally better to document things. Even if it’s just scribbling out some brief notes on what you were thinking about some upcoming challenge, or the context of some big decision you made, you should document more processes at your business. This will not only give you some practical reminders, but will also help new employees hit the ground running, and keep the whole team up to date on what you’re trying to accomplish. If your processes, decisions and so forth aren’t all that well-documented, it’s time to turn that around.
Don’t Immediately Blame the Tool
It’s not the hammer’s fault if a person hits it using the wrong end of the head. Still, it won’t work very well! The large majority of tools are decent and functional enough, but it’s pretty common for them to be used incorrectly. Overhauling your process and rushing to replace a tool in your business isn’t always the right course of action. In many cases, it can hold you back from potential ongoing improvements. Instead of taking two steps forward and one step back, devote more of your resources to smoothly integrating new tools.
The lean startup model (build, measure, learn) is pretty essential for ongoing improvement. When you’re creating a process, be sure to define the goal or goals that you’re trying to achieve. Time the experiment of introducing the new process, and then measure the results, both in terms of quality and quantity. Start thinking of process changes in a cyclical fashion, rather than big lurches forward. This will make them much easier to manage, and will keep you rolling towards your long-term goals at a good speed.
If you want your business to be a success, you need to be constantly looking for ways to improve it. Take this advice, make it a habit, and you’ll be well on your way!