Ask the Experts at COCC


Ironing Out Business Efficiencies

I create jewelry and I’m starting to make sales at events and through my website, but since I am the only one in my business, I’m working 14-hour days and I’m very disorganized. What are some tips for being more efficient?

A: Congratulations on your business growth! Here are several steps to help you prioritize and get organized:

  1. Focus on your “best” customers — those who purchase the most (or highest price) items and provide referrals and testimonials. If a small order takes the same (or more) time to fulfill than a large order, set expectations for the future about how and when orders will be completed. Even Amazon prioritizes small orders for 7-to-10-day delivery.
  2. Prioritize and set realistic deadlines. Identify what HAS to be done for each sale cycle (example: each week) and what can be deferred. If there’s something that stays on the list for a long time and doesn’t get done, maybe it’s not important right now or perhaps it could be outsourced.
  3. Organize your physical workspace and filing systems to increase productivity and reduce distractions. Consider digital tools like calendars, to-do lists and note-taking apps to keep track of appointments, reminders and important information all in one place.
  4. Identify activities that can be automated or streamlined, such as point-of-sale tools integrated with calendars, inventory, accounting, marketing and customer management processes. Square and Shopify are two examples.
  5. Calendar your priority activities, including breaks, and listen to your “body clock.” If you are most focused in the morning, work on top priorities then. If your “best time” is the afternoon, make sales calls or conduct outreach in the morning and work on top priority items in the afternoon. Schedule time for exercise and rest. You can’t maximize effectiveness if you’re going every day for 14 hours a day, even if it’s exciting and you love what you do. Mental and physical rest can lead to improved productivity.
  6. Regularly review your performance, financials and processes; celebrate small wins and identify areas for improvement.
  7. Ask for help: Don’t hesitate to consult with professionals, such as accountants or business advisors for guidance on specific business actions.

Central Oregon Community College has a Small Business Development Center that offers free, confidential professional business advising and a variety of low-cost courses to help entrepreneurs through the business lifecycle:

About the Expert:
With decades of small business ownership, teaching and advising experience, Sue Meyer works alongside the skilled team of business advisers at Central Oregon Community College’s Small Business Development Center.


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