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21 no-brainers for business decision makers

With such a volatile economic landscape across the globe, it’s never been more important for businesses to be productive, efficient, and cost-effective. Without these three key attributes, businesses of all sizes will struggle to survive.

But there’s no denying that in the midst of inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, productivity, efficiency, and costs are extremely difficult things to manage.

There are no quick fixes or easy answers here… or are there?

When faced with complex, business-wide issues, it can be easy to miss the small, simple changes right in front of you that could make a big difference.

At least that’s what the experts said when we interviewed them for our guide, ‘How to grow your business with smarter decisions: it’s a no-brainer’.

But now that you’ve read the in-depth analysis, we thought you might appreciate some instant ‘no-brainers’ you can action in your business today.

So here they are, all in one place, to keep things simple.

Simply click on the chapter headings below to navigate around.

What can I do to improve productivity in my business?

When thinking about how to improve productivity, many businesses fall into the trap of buying a shiny new piece of tech and hoping that it will do the job for them.

However, evidence suggests that good people management has a far more significant impact. A large American study found that variation in management skills accounted for about a fifth of the spread of productivity across the 35,000 manufacturing plants they surveyed. A similar fraction to research and development, and twice as much as explained by the use of IT.1

The award-winning “Productivity ninja”, Grace Marshall, who spoke to us for our smarter business guide, agrees. She favours a “psychology before technology” approach in her business no-brainers.

Overhead view of a businessman lying on a wooden floor, covered in papers with only his trouser bottoms and shoes visible

5 productivity no-brainers:

1. Get really clear on your goals

Is everyone aware of what your business is trying to achieve? Do they know what work they should be saying yes or no to?

“If only the people at the top know, while the rest of the business simply does what they’re told on a day-to-day basis, the focus can end up being on the wrong thing,” says Grace.

To avoid large-scale goals, such as greater productivity, being buried under everyday minutiae, the aim should be to equip all of your people to be decision-makers and thinkers.

2. Examine how you measure productivity

Another common trap that businesses fall into is using presenteeism as a measure for productivity. If someone stays late at the office, responds quickly to emails, and the insidious mouse-click-measuring software says they’re always active, are they really the most productive member of staff?

“All of those measures lead to behaviours that are more akin to busy-ness, than productivity,” says Grace. “We need to start having some meaningful measures of productivity, like impact and results.”

3. Remember that implementing new tech isn’t just about showing people where the buttons are

What do you want your technology to do for your business?

What problem are you trying to solve?

How would you like people to use it?

Whether you’ve implemented new systems recently or years ago, it’s always worth defining (and redefining) the rules of engagement to ensure everyone’s on the same page. Even if it’s as simple as ‘urgent messages go on Teams, everything else is email.’

4. Ensure people feel safe enough to speak up

Productivity is a bottom-up mission, so it’s essential to ensure that everyone in your organisation feels psychologically safe enough to suggest alternative, more productive ways of doing things. After all, who knows how to improve a process better than the person who works with it every day?

Plus, a psychologically safe workplace has other benefits. When 300,000 people in the UK leave their jobs every year due to poor mental health, at an estimated cost of £56bn to the economy, the productivity gains that come from eliminating this issue could be huge.2

5. …then give them the means to do so

You don’t have to deliver all the answers to productivity problems yourself. With messaging apps, emails, regular manager 121s, or even old-school anonymous suggestion boxes, make sure people know that the door is always open – and that great ideas can be found in all sorts of places.

How can I make my business more efficient?

If productivity is about achieving more in the same time frame, efficiency is about doing what you do best, but in less time.

So how do you go about that?

“It’s important to understand that efficiency is a journey,” says Dan Fiehn, a technology leader who we also interviewed for our smarter business guide.

“It’s not a one-off project, it’s continuous. It’s a habit that you want to bake into a company.”

A businessman sat at a desk, resting his chin on his hands with sticky notes covering his eyes that have eyes drawn in black marker

5 efficiency no-brainers:

1. Put together an efficiency heatmap

This is a quick and simple exercise to help you visualise which systems you’re tolerating for now, which systems you want to target for improvement, and which are hurting your business and need to be terminated.

It’s a great foundation for building a more detailed improvement strategy.

2. Consolidate suppliers

“In one of the companies I work with,” says Dan, “you’d have four, five, six printing firms doing printing across the estate. Actually, by consolidating that into one supply, you can get economies of scale, clean processes and more efficiency.”

The same applies to any business process.

“Sometimes people think of efficiency as the need to have the latest tech,” he adds. “It doesn’t need to be. You just need to reduce the number of players that you’ve got in your company.”

3. Eliminate duplication

From buying new software licences rather than redistributing them from former-employees, to onboarding new systems without offboarding the old ones, eliminating duplication is a business no-brainer that’s often overlooked.

“People get excited about putting in new things, but less so about getting rid of the old things,” says Dan. “So you end up with two systems to look after instead of one, because it is difficult to decommission and take out old systems.”

The lesson? Tidy things up, before you buy anything new.

4. Target areas that people aren’t precious about first

If you’re looking for easy wins, think about the areas that have seen little investment (both financial and energetic) thus far.

If someone has spent years building a system, they may be more resistant to change – whereas if you can find an area that’s a bit unglamorous and underdeveloped, you may be able to have a bigger impact there.

“You can start small and then build up,” says Dan. “The thing with change is that if it’s too difficult you can fail at the first hurdle. So you need to start small and then build confidence as you get successes.”

5. Incentivise your efficiency superstars

Has someone in your business spotted an inefficiency and saved you money in the process? Reward them for it. It’s a no-brainer.

Not only will this incentivise further suggestions, meaning you’re getting the best of your employees, but it will get your employees actively invested in the efficiency process.

How can I cut costs in my business?

In April 2022, UK inflation rose by 9% – the highest increase in 40 years.3

By the end of that year, a quarter of businesses reported rising staffing costs, 41% faced an increase in the prices of goods or services they needed to buy, and 35% were considering raising their prices due to energy costs (78% in the hospitality industry).4

Clearly, cost is a bigger problem than ever.

So, what are some cost-cutting no-brainers you can start doing right now?

Overhead view of a business woman sat at a desk with her head facedown on the keyboard of a notebook computer

5 cost-saving no-brainers:

1. Improve your energy efficiency

Yes, it’s an obvious one. But the average SME could reduce its energy bill by 18-25% by installing energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, with an average payback of less than 1.5 years.5

Even turning down the thermostat by 1°C could save 10% on your heating bill, so the smallest changes really can help.6 Plus, when an estimated 40% of these savings would require zero capital cost, what are you waiting for?

2. Switch up your bank accounts

A record number of consumers (376,107) switched their current accounts in the final three months of 2022, with cash incentives thought to be the driving force.7

So why aren’t more businesses doing the same? According to United Trust Banks, UK businesses may be losing out on a massive £992m of interest each year by keeping £103.5bn of company money in low-paying business deposit accounts.8

To contextualise that figure, an SME with a £75,000 balance in one such account would earn just £7.50 gross interest a year. But with the same amount in, for example, a 3% interest account, an SME could earn £2,250. There’s definitely a cash incentive for switching there, so take a look at a few comparison sites to find an account that works for you.

3. Encourage working from home

Research by Microsoft shows that 73% of people want hybrid and remote working to continue into the future.9

As well as improving colleagues’ work-life balance (and associated productivity benefits), there’s the added cost-saving perk of not having to keep the lights on in the office. Even if you only close it for one day a week.

4. Eliminate non-profitable clients

It might seem counterproductive to reduce your client list in this economic climate. But while you’re making cost-saving calculations, it’s worth taking a good look at the figures your clients bring in. And more importantly, the costs they take out.

Because if your support team is spending all their time on one or two demanding clients, with fewer resources left over for the rest, that affects your ability to bring in more profitable new business too.

5. All of the above

According to Databox, the best way to cut costs isn’t to do less, but more:

“Cutting costs is just a temporary solution as there’s only so much you can save. Treating the cause and optimising spending can lead to a significantly higher return on investment in the long run.”10

The best approach then, is a combined one. Boosting productivity, improving efficiency, and cutting costs? It’s a no-brainer.

What’s one easy area to get started with now?


When was the last time you interrogated how efficient your printing operation is?

Whether you’ve got one printer or 100, we’re guessing it’s not recently – or maybe even never.

That’s fine, as for most businesses, printing is just one of those classic necessities. Like keeping the lights on. Or having insurance.

But while we all keep an eye on our energy usage, regularly switch insurance providers, and take steps to make both more cost-efficient, why do we never do this for printing?

Perhaps because nobody was there to make printing simple.

Well, that’s where Brother Managed Print Services come in.

A businessman reading a document while stood next to a Brother colour laser printer in an office environment

5 printing no-brainers:

1. Think about the bigger printing picture

Printing costs can get lost in your expenses paper trail, for instance, in one-off ink and toner purchases and new devices bought reactively as and when the need arises, especially during lockdowns.

The same applies to productivity and efficiency issues around printing. How much is printer downtime costing your business overall? Are your people making the most of your printers’ capabilities? What benefits do you want to get out of printing, and are you getting them?

Essentially, think strategically about printing now so you can forget about it later – that’s the key to smarter printing.

2. Explore easy wins with your printing provider

Simple payment options. Remote installation. Support on hand when required.

With an expert provider in place to focus solely on printing and help you identify areas for improvement, there are numerous opportunities for potential efficiencies.

3. Automate ink and toner ordering and delivery

There’s no need to waste time and money shopping around for one-off ink and toner supplies.

With the right managed print service, you can automate the whole process. So your ink or toner will arrive before you run out, reducing downtime and helping your team to stay productive.

4. Reduce downtime with a fast breakdown service

Whether you print a lot or a little, not being able to produce the documents you need can hamper any business’s productivity.

That’s why having maintenance and repairs included as part of your managed print service can make a big difference.

Brother MPS offers first-class, Manchester-based remote support within four business hours, plus next business day repairs for the lifetime of the printer. And with one flat monthly fee, there are no hidden surprises when it comes to cost.

5. Make printing simple with Brother Managed Print Services

No matter your printing needs, we’re “At your side” to make printing simple, and find the solution that saves time, keeps costs down, and helps you stay productive.

Transparent payment options. Fuss-free support over the phone. And a service that just works. It’s a no-brainer.

One final no-brainer: make a smarter business decision today and learn more about Brother MPS

Get in touch with an expert now.


1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26636973

2. https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/102049-ERC-State-of-Small-Business-2022-Final-Web-Verison.pdf

3. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/april2022

4. https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/businessservices/bulletins/businessinsightsandimpactontheukeconomy/26january2023

5. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417410/DECC_advice_guide.pdf

6. https://www.wwf.org.uk/challenges/turn-down-one-degree

7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-64399666

8. https://www.utbank.co.uk/savings-and-deposits/uk-sme-businesses-losing-out-deposit-interest/

9. https://www.iod.com/news/uk-economy/the-future-is-bright-but-challenging-for-smes/

10. https://databox.com/smb-spend-optimization-tips

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