The old adage “work smarter, not harder” is more than a business cliché. As anyone who runs a company would tell you, every second counts when it comes to your bottom line — and that’s especially true in the apparel industry. So with that in mind, here’s a look at some specific tips to implement in your day-to-day tasks, in order to work more efficiently and productively!
“One of the most counterintuitive but effective methods I’ve found for increasing my productivity is to limit how many items I add to my to-do list,” says Belle Beth Cooper at Buffer Social. “One way I do this is by choosing 1-3 Most Important Tasks (MITs).” Essentially what Cooper is suggesting is that savvy business owners avoid getting bogged down with secondary issues and focus instead on what is most pressing. You can do this at the start of each business day, each week and each new season. Identify what is most necessary and important for the given time, and focus your energy and effort there. This allows you to spend time where it is most useful.
2. Minimize Distractions
Most people have time wasters that pull them away from productivity during the day. What are yours? Do you find yourself reading blogs that aren’t related to your industry? Are you wasting time on social media in order to try to keep up? How often are you interrupted from work because of a phone call or an unexpected drop-by visitor at your office? Find a way to minimize distractions when you’re working on your core-business objectives like designing or creating, and you’ll find a way to boost efficiency.
3. Keep Detailed Inventory
Nobody has to tell you that fashion is always changing and therefore so is your inventory. Keeping track of what you have in stock and where everything is located will not happen by accident. That’s why you must invest in smart organization and inventory-management solutions such as warehouse-management software, clear-packaging labels, clothing tags and more. While taking the time to get organized does require an initial investment of energy, you’ll likely find it pays off when your operations are able to work more smoothly.
4. Know What to Outsource
When you’re just starting out, it’s normal to handle everything on your own, but as your business grows, you’ll need help. In order to scale your operations, you may need to outsource part or parts of your business processes. For example, your clothing brand may rely on outside manufacturers instead of creating everything in house, or your design company may stop handling its own accounting or IT. In either case, if you want to keep growing, you’ll need to learn to outsource the tasks that aren’t your top priorities.
5. Set Specific, Concrete, Achievable Goals
A huge cause of inefficiency in business is lack of direction. So to help your company work smarter, take time to set specific and measurable goals. Start with overarching, broad goals for the company and then break those goals down into department-sized goals and/or seasonal goals. What’s more, offer tangible rewards to your team when goals are reached. “To bring this whole process full circle,” says Phil Cohen at LifeHacker, “once these goals are met, plan a company-wide activity such as a potluck, where everyone can relax and enjoy each other’s company, while celebrating their success.” Not only will clear goals better direct your efforts — it will give clarity to your staff.
When your entire team understands what it is working toward, it’s much more likely to achieve it. Becoming a more efficient business can feel daunting — but it’s worth the effort. When you find ways to make your company leaner and smarter, you find ways to improve profits, motivate staff members and finally excel.
Don Amato is the Vice-President of Sales at Chicago Tag & Label in Libertyville, IL. Small business owners use Chicago Tag’s forms, form labels, tags and labels to streamline day-to-day processes.