Managing mid-level business operations is challenging. Many medium-sized companies don’t have the resources of a huge enterprise but still need comprehensive processes to keep things running smoothly.
To avoid bottlenecks and breakdowns in communication, management must keep everyone on the same page and strive for efficiency.
Fortunately, many other mid-size business owners have gone before and solved big issues. They developed techniques for streamlining processes to help any company trying to do the same.
1. Identify Weaknesses
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the success and failure of new startups. Their charts indicate around one in five new companies fail within the first five years. Rise above the statistics and challenges by finding weaknesses and addressing them early.
Companies that succeed tend to review every aspect of their business at least once a year. Make a list of areas where operations are lacking. Armed with knowledge of any weaknesses, leadership can address them one by one and improve.
Pay particular attention to bottlenecks in the system. What holds up shipping? How can sales reach more customers in the same amount of time? Look at every department and every procedure and make a list of what might need changing.
2. Set SMART Goals
Most mid-level business operations have clearly defined goals. Focus on a SMART goal model to ensure the brand has specific objectives and ways to achieve them.
SMART Goals set each brand apart from the competition and help everyone in the company focus on what needs to be done.
Goals should be specific, and set within a period of time. Think about the direct results of achieving the goal to choose which objectives to attack first.
3. Keep Top Talent
Attracting and keeping employees saves money on recruiting and training. The company won’t waste time without someone to fill a crucial position and keep processes running smoothly. Consider what employees most want, such as a strong benefits package that keeps them with a mid-size business instead of a larger brand.
Do also think about the ways your workers can tap into their benefits. Can any of those operations be streamlined for easier access?
Hold onto those with special skills and knowledge. While doing so, fix any processes that might discourage employees or cause them to look elsewhere for income.
4. Reduce Waste
Focus on some lean management practices to reduce costs and streamline operations. Study the time spent on non-valuable tasks and hone in on anything that reduces quality or productivity.
Mid-level business operations often developed when a company was smaller. What worked in the beginning won’t necessarily work as a brand grows and deals with more customers, shipping and inventory.
One example might be a business that always prints out orders then pulls the stock and ships. What if a brand streamlined that process and stopped printing off all the orders? Instead, pickers and packers could work off small handheld screens, checking off each item digitally. In addition to moving faster, the company would save money on paper, printing and the time spent on those tasks.
5. Encourage Collaboration
When first starting, most small businesses only have around four employees or even less. That makes communications relatively simple in the early days. Everyone may work in the same garage off the founder’s home or a small office space.
As a company grows and takes on more employees and responsibilities, collaboration becomes more complex and requires ongoing effort. When multiple departments come together, each gets a sense of how the other functions. Creative solutions are possible and each department benefits from improved management techniques.
Consider Every Aspect of Mid-Level Business Operations
Sometimes it is difficult to see what must change when the company has always done it that way. Bringing in someone to audit operations or make suggestions for improvement offers a fresh perspective leadership might not have.
Fix any issues, set goals for better processes and streamline everything possible. Adopt new technology, upgrade equipment and offer additional training to employees. With a focus on growing a little better consistently, a mid-level business will still find success and growth opportunities.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.