If you’re in business you have one objective: to sell what you have for more than it costs. The greater the wedge you can drive between those two variables – sales/costs – the greater the return. When times are tough, and everyone is working under pressure, getting your business strategy just right can be tortuous and riddled with the potential for error. Taking time out from fire-fighting day to day battles may seem like a luxury, but if you can keep a calm objective head and examine your business processes thoroughly there will usually be room for improvement. Managing your business processes simply means making sure that everything works as efficiently as possible, so that actual costs carry the least amount of wastefulness. Inefficiencies cost businesses a huge amount of time, wasted time that bring item cost and sale price closer than they need necessarily be. Lowering prices should be a last resort, and doing so without addressing existing business processes is a truly desperate measure. T is for Tasks: All business is based on ‘Tasks‘, all those things that must be done to enable the process of selling: replying to an email; taking orders; restocking inventory; writing a business plan; tracking productivity; managing accounts; designing a widget; running a marketing campaign; managing customer relationships; paying bills; etc. Just about everything you do that happens in a place of work, that you and your employees are paid to do, is a Task. R is for Requirements: Every Task is built on a set of Requirements, those procedures that must happen in order to complete a Task; things don’t just need to get get done, they need to be done in a way that’s most cost-effective. In order to achieve that any Requirements must not just be wholly subscribed to, they must be carried out by those most capable of doing so with as little interference as possible. I is for Issues: Anything that gets in the way of a Task being completed is an Issue. Unresolved Issues are the leaks in the system, the constant drip of money disappearing from businesses. Identifying Issues is critical to achieving business process efficiencies, associated cost savings, and building a lean, smooth-running operation. Without knowing the deep-rooted source of a concern, and how it relates to other business processes, you may end up creating problems elsewhere if you act rashly. Q is for Questions: Once you’ve identified any business process Issues you have to ask Questions: Is it necessary to carry out the Task in this way? Are its Requirements too impractical to carry out quickly? Are there too many dependencies and variables associated with a Task or its Requirements? Is there a better way? Are any Requirements redundant? Can processes be automated? If not, why not? Everything about how you do business must be questioned regularly, and not just when times are tough. S is for Solutions: Solutions to Issues can come out of the blue, and from any direction, but you have to be looking for them and receptive to all ideas; dismissing possibile Solutions simply because they don’t fit existing thinking is counter-productive; there are far too many examples in business of companies not seeing the potential in new ways of doing things and then having their market share decline. Conclusion: If you don’t think there are ways to improve your business processes, creating cost efficiencies even when things are going well, then it’s likely you aren’t looking hard enough. Business that don’t evolve become complacent and flounder, those that grow and become stronger are the ones always looking to improve and adapt to changing market needs.