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WaiYou! chairwoman Cara Tipping Smith

Productivity.

It’s on every small business owner’s mind this time of year.

If we’re not ruminating on how our business could be more productive, we’re asking “how could I be more productive or get better life balance, work smarter not harder”, yadda yadda yadda.

Right now, productivity is all over the news.

Sanna Marin, Finland’s new (and young) prime minister, once suggested working six-hour days or four-day weeks. Admittedly that was some time ago when she was transport minister but hey, it’s making headlines again now.

Perpetual Guardian’s Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart are on a tour of the United States talking about their successful implementation of a four-day working week (whoop, another Kiwi company punches above its weight – love it!).

Of course, Barnes has a book coming and, in the interim, an interesting read in a free white paper download at 4dayweek.com.

Perpetual Guardian excepted, we’re not very productive in New Zealand.

We know this because our Productivity Commission says so. Yep, they are a real entity with a very informative (although ironically slow loading) website.

They reckon New Zealand’s firms are on average about 30% to 40% less productive than our international counterparts (2016-17 figures).

This week, our Government commissioned them to come up with policies to improve our collective business performance by analysing and extrapolating what works from our most effective firms

These defined, but I’m hoping there’ll be some from the 97% of all Kiwi businesses which employ fewer than 20 employees, including from the 360,000 business owners who work alone.

Perpetual Guardian has 240 employees.

Notwithstanding the difference in scale, some of their white paper suggestions can be easily applied for a small business owner.

Things like focusing on outcomes instead of time spent. Things like being clear about our goals and the payoff of doing things differently. Things like figuring out what we could do with that extra time and making that our reward.

Alex and I are going to test a few theories over the next little while. I think I’ll start with shorter meetings.

I figure if I have 10 meetings a week and they’re 45 minutes instead of an hour, I’ll get two and a-half hours back.

That gets me round a nine-hole course. Or could, if I did it more. Every week.

Food for thought.

Hope you’re having a happy and productive New Year.

Cara Tipping Smith is the director of The Business Hive.