By Leif Hartwig

As an entrepreneur, you are constantly juggling roles, from acquiring new customers to finding the right office space, to keeping your business operating efficiently. But some of the biggest challenges that keep businesses from advancing might be hiding in plain site within the organization. Relying on tried-and-true business practices and settling for the default when it comes to communications, technology and employee onboarding could be costing your business. Let’s explore some of the common business practices that are probably holding your company back and what solutions are available.

1. Cut the Communication Clutter

Effective communication is an essential element to a successful business no matter what industry you operate in and over the years communications has evolved to be increasingly efficient. Physical mail was reduced with the fax machine in the 1970s and email has now replaced a large portion of print and phone correspondence. But according to the Bolste 2016 Industry & Productivity Perspectives Report, over one fifth of working professionals say half or more of the work emails they receive are irrelevant to them. Employees are increasingly distracted by the overload of email, lowering business productivity. Much like the fax machines and telephones that are gathering dust, email is on its way out as innovative companies adopt more unified solutions. Business operating systems where employees can send messages, upload documents, share screens and essentially conduct all their communications can drastically reduce wasted time spent sorting through emails and attachments. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by fully implementing social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of their professional employees by 20 to 25 percent. This is a significant increase that business leaders should definitely have on their radar.

2. More Software, More Problems

Having the right technology is key to keep your business running at optimal efficiency, but that doesn’t mean you should always have the latest or most expensive software. On the contrary, believing that purchasing the most commonly used tools will automatically make your business better is an expensive mistake. Research conducted by Flexera Software and IDC found that 96 percent of businesses were wasting money on unused software, also known as “shelfware”. Much of this waste comes from self-renewing and subscription software licenses. Furthermore, IT software company 1E discovered that the average company wastes 37 percent of their software spend. Technology costs should be taken seriously and entrepreneurs need to regularly evaluate their software needs and reconfigure their expenditures based on what is working for the company. It is important to take into consideration that with more technology comes more training and user support.  By keeping software simple you can focus on the essentials that will not only save money but likely improve employee satisfaction by reducing their need to constantly change their workflow to accommodate technology upgrades.

3. Starting New Hires Off on the Right Path

Onboarding new employees and educating existing ones are areas that often get overlooked when it comes to innovation but they are central to a well-run business. Bolste’s Industry & Productivity Perspectives Report found that an alarming 22 percent of new hires are left to figure out things on their own and another one in five employees are provided a cookie-cutter type manual. Relying on outdated training manuals is simply inefficient and a poor use of company time. Increasingly, companies need to train employees beyond the tasks at hand and offer professional development. Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey found that 63 percent of millennials say their leadership skills are not being sufficiently developed and it’s an area of discontent. Working with individual employees to learn their skills and needs to form a more customized training program makes sense for employees and employers. By making the upfront investment in an employee, businesses can benefit from having properly trained, skilled workers who are also more empowered and motivated in their jobs, which undoubtedly will lead to higher employee retention as well.

While it may seem easy to fall back on business practices that are considered the norm such as a heavy reliance on email, an abundance of costly software and oudated training manuals, these decisions are stunting your company success. Taking an honest assessment of your business regularly can identify these often archaic practices and allow you to make choices that will work best for your business and employees.

Leif Hartwig is the CEO of Bolste. Hartwig started Bolste to develop an easy-to-use tool to help today’s entrepreneurs, small businesses and teams within larger organizations quickly increase productivity and efficiency.