Mark Wardell’s Top 10 Tips to Increase Your Productivity

1. Don’t pass the buck

When things don’t go as planned, great leaders take responsibility for their own actions (or inactions). Do this consistently, and teach your people to do the same. Once everyone starts taking personal responsibility for their work, your productivity will climb dramatically.

2. Start working towards “open-book management”

When you share your company’s financials with your employees, you encourage them to behave more like owners. Many entrepreneurs worry their employees will think the company makes too much money, but most employees actually overestimate the company’s bottom line before they are exposed to it. It’s not an easy step for most entrepreneurs to take, but those that do typically find the benefits are worth the risk.

3. Do the tough stuff first

One of the simplest, yet most effective strategies for dealing with procrastination is to cross the tough stuff off your to-do list first. Teach yourself to do this and then train your employees to do the same. If you can stay committed to the process, you’ll build an incredibly productive corporate culture.

4. Develop a company knowledgebase

In every business, new ideas are generated daily. Some are great, and some are not, but most are lost forever. To fix this, develop a company knowledgebase where good ideas can be stored for future use. This can be as simple as a folder on a computer or as fancy as a company wiki. Over time, this will become one of the most valuable tools you’ve got.

5. Take a break

Business should be fun. But life should still be about more than just business. Take a holiday and recharge your batteries. You’ll come back stronger and more productive than ever.

6. Revamp your organizational structure

The best people in the world are of limited value to a company if they aren’t organized to run your businesses as profitably as possible. To accomplish this, take a second look at the roles of your current employees, their responsibilities, their work-flow and accountability to one another. Everyone should be contributing to the bottom line in some form or another. Many times, revamping your organization structure can be the single most effective way to increase workplace productivity, not to mention the overall value of your business.

7. Implement a solid management team

You need to find managers who can make your business better—people who have already proven they can manage a business like yours as well as, or even better than you can. If they already work for you, you’re in luck. Otherwise, research the all-stars who have successfully transformed the state of peer businesses. Are they available? Ask industry colleagues, friends, suppliers, vendors and even recruiters if they know a potential candidate who matches your needs.

8. Transfer key relationships from the owner to the business

As long as your company’s key relationships are also your personal relationships, it will be difficult to convince outside investors your business is self-sustaining, not to mention the fact that, as the owner, it’s not the most productive use of your time. Start by introducing your personal contacts to the appropriate contact within your organization, and then slowly but surely pass more and more of your interactions on. The message you want to continuously deliver to your customers and vendors is that they will receive better service by dealing with the “right people” in your company, but that you are always available should they need you.

9. Use Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)

Numbers are the most productive way to measure progress and raise red flags – before it’s too late. So, begin the practice of documenting and reviewing things like margin growth, inventory turnover and customer satisfaction levels. Then compile your results into a standardized format to help monitor how well you are doing at any given time. And finally, share this information across your organization. This practice will help your entire team stay focused on achieving measurable goals.

10. Tighten up your receivables

Most invoices say “net 30 days”, so they are paid at least 30 days after the invoice arrives. Instead, take a lesson from the credit card companies and replace this vague statement with a hard and fast date. Something like, “due Sept 25th”. I’d even suggest moving the date forward by 5 days or so. Try it for a few months and you’ll be amazed at how well it works.

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