Smart business: more profit and lower costs

Are you suffering from staff shortages and rising costs, or do you simply want to increase your turnover? Working more is not always the solution. Smarter business is. You do not necessarily need extra money, time, know-how or personnel. For instance, reduce your administrative work with accounting software or sell more thanks to a well-timed e-mail. In other words: make use of data and software and increase your productivity. Read how other entrepreneurs do it in this article.

Need an overview of all solutions to become more productive (in Dutch)?

20% more profit thanks to the use of software, or doing the work of ten people with two employees: it can be done. Doing business smarter and more productively is a matter of automating, using the right data and outsourcing work if someone else can do it faster or better. "We don't want to spend time on excel sheets or HR meetings," says entrepreneur Maarten Kooijman of eyewear brand Looplab. "We would rather spend that time on innovation or creativity."  


 Automating tasks makes work easier, faster and saves mistakes. There are different types of software and hardware with corresponding prices. How do you choose between all these solutions, how do you approach it and how do you know if it will pay off?  

Identify time-wasters 

Examine which tasks you are wasting time on. Entrepreneur Marco Groeneveld runs Pasman Integral Property Maintenance, a business that maintains real estate with, for example, painting. He mapped all tasks in his business and calculated how much time they took. He discovered that his staff spent a lot of time digitally entering handwritten notes with required materials. Now his staff puts those required materials into a digital system.  

Calculate the ROI 

Calculate what that software or hardware gives you, or in other words: calculate the Return On Investment (ROI). Kooijman bought expensive accounting software years ago. "Actually, we pulled on far too big a pair of trousers back then. We were still too small for such expensive software. But thanks to that software, we were able to grow." X 

No money to buy software or hardware? Investigate whether you qualify for a grant or other form of funding. A microcredit or SME loan will pay you back in five years. 

Train your staff 

Train yourself and your staff to use the software or hardware. At Pasman Integrated Property Maintenance, every new employee receives a two-day software training course. This quickly costs Groeneveld around 2,000 euros per employee, but it pays for itself. "A trained employee is more productive and also looks for more efficient ways to use the software himself A non-trained employee, on the other hand, might use the software incorrectly and make mistakes. In that case, the employee spends extra time figuring out how the software works and you spend extra time and sometimes even money fixing mistakes."  

Insight into data

 Understanding your data helps you provide better customer service, capitalise on opportunities, better manage your inventory and handle staff more efficiently, among other things. But how do you use data if you don't know about it? "You often already have that data for a long time," says beautician Marie-Jose Schut of beauty salon MJ Amsterdam. Read below where to find that data and how to apply it.  

Filter data from your systems 

Data can be found in your digital checkout system, your reservation system, your inventory system, e-mail marketing tool, among others. Many systems and tools offer a dashboard where you can see all those figures, or the ability to crank out figures. For example, Schut kept track of what type of beauty treatments were booked at what times and days and linked this to her annual goals. Look at the data from a longer period and see if you discover a pattern. Note: keep privacy laws in mind when collecting personal data.   

Capitalise on opportunities

 Data provides insight into opportunities. For example, you may be suffering from rising costs or you simply want to make more turnover or margin. Look for hidden time rovers or costs. Or investigate which variant of your product or service is popular. Combine different types of data and come up with new insights. See if you can raise or lower the figure with a small action. That can make a big difference over a longer period.  

For example, fishmonger Hugo van der Meij was suffering from staff shortages. So he investigated how and what his staff spent time on. He kept track of the number of minutes worked and the number of orders per day and divided them. That's how he found out that a lot of time was spent helping customers. He reduced that time by pre-packaging his fish. "Before, customers would ask for 250g of fish, for example, and then it would still be 200g when we scooped up. Now I offer pre-packed portions of 200 or 500 grams. Customers choose a packet and pay immediately. The customer contact is still there, but I spend less time on it."   

Wondering what else you can do with data to make more profit? Owner Jos Beks of Change Hairstyling explains how he manages his business with data.