How to make more from what you’ve got

Alex Arnot is non-executive board advisor to more than 30 recruitment companies.


Resources are finite. When did you last ask yourself how well yours are working for your business? Small changes can have a big impact so here are 6 of the areas I would focus on when considering resource efficiency.

Changes to your behaviour – As a director you are the business’ most important resource.  Improvements to your behaviour will improve the productivity of the whole business. Think about:

  • Which tasks you could delegate to someone more junior? It is more efficient for them to take those tasks on.
  • Which of your activities deliver the greatest returns for the business? If you spend more time doing those tasks will returns increase further?
  • How much of your time is spent recruiting? Is it worth hiring a part time or full time recruitment manager to take the burden off you?
  • Do any of your activities not add value to the business? If so, why are you doing them?
  • How much time each month do you spend considering what will make everyone else in your company more efficient and productive?

Changes to your team’s behaviour – There are two elements to making your team more productive:

  • What can you do to make the team as a whole more efficient? Is the way the team is structured sensible? Do they have access to the tools (e.g. C.R.M., intranet etc) that they need to work efficiently? Are they getting regular training to improve their skills? Are you getting your top performers to share what makes them so effective with other employees?
  • Can you improve the performance of specific individuals? For example, can you free up the time of your most expensive or productive resources to deliver more of what makes them so valuable (e.g. remove their admin duties) Are any of your weaker performers capable of dramatic improvement through small changes?

Profit margins – Look across your business. Are some practices, teams or clients delivering better profit levels than others? If so, what can you do either to improve the profit levels of underperforming areas of the business? or alternatively to really grow the areas of the business with the best margins?

Good and bad clients – Building on this point, with some clients the pot of money is always at the end of the rainbow. Stop chasing it, cut those clients. Focus on the clients who are profitable for you.

Your assets – While people are likely to make the biggest difference to your business’ success you should consider all your resources. Could you improve your returns by re-investing cash at the bank in the business? Would using invoice factoring or discounting enable you to grow faster? Is your office space performing for you? Or can you sublet spare space / renegotiate the terms of your lease?

Marketing spend and business development activities – Are you measuring which of your marketing activities and business development activities are delivering the best return on investment? Should any resources be increased, reallocated or cut?