Strategy Talk

Say goodbye to inefficiencies and hello to success with new business model overhaul

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Running a successful small business requires many different factors to come together, from effective marketing and sales to efficient operations and satisfied customers. While there are many paths to success, one of the most important is maximizing efficiency. When businesses are able to do more with less, they are better able to compete, scale, and thrive in their markets. Unfortunately, many small businesses suffer from inefficiencies that can put them at a disadvantage. These inefficiencies can come from many sources, from poorly designed processes to outdated equipment and technology.

To address these inefficiencies and improve their chances of success, small businesses may need to consider a business model overhaul. By substantially changing which activities the company performs and how the company configures them, businesses can become radically more efficient. One famous example of this kind of overhaul is the Ford Model T, which revolutionized the automotive industry by using activity-based costing to redesign the manufacturing process. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of efficiency in small businesses, the challenges they face in achieving it, and the potential benefits of a business model overhaul. We’ll also provide tips for small business owners looking to implement this kind of change and examine the risks and rewards involved. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to make your business more efficient and competitive.

Understanding Inefficiencies in Small Businesses

Efficiency is crucial for small businesses to succeed, but many face inefficiencies that can lead to higher costs and lower productivity. These inefficiencies can arise from a variety of sources, including outdated technology, inefficient processes, and poor management practices. Understanding these inefficiencies is the first step towards improving efficiency and becoming more competitive.

One useful tool for understanding inefficiencies is activity-based costing (ABC). ABC is a costing methodology that identifies activities within an organization and assigns costs to them based on their use of resources. This approach provides a more accurate picture of the costs associated with each activity and can help identify inefficiencies.

For example, let’s say a small business manufactures products and has a team responsible for quality control. If the quality control team is not performing efficiently, the business may experience higher costs and lower productivity. By using ABC, the business can identify the specific activities within the quality control process that are causing inefficiencies and take steps to address them. This could include eliminating unnecessary steps, improving communication between team members, or investing in new technology.

In addition to using ABC, small businesses can also identify inefficiencies by conducting regular performance reviews and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are specific metrics that can help track progress and identify areas for improvement. Common KPIs for small businesses include revenue, profit margins, customer satisfaction, and employee turnover.

By understanding inefficiencies and using tools like ABC and KPIs, small businesses can identify areas for improvement and take steps to become more efficient. This can lead to lower costs, increased productivity, and a more competitive position in the market. In the next section, we’ll explore a real-world example of how a business model overhaul can address inefficiencies and lead to success.

The Ford Model T Case Study

In the early 1900s, the automotive industry was facing several inefficiencies that made it difficult for manufacturers to produce vehicles at scale. Cars were primarily hand-built, which was a time-consuming and expensive process. As a result, cars were not widely available or affordable to the average consumer.

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, recognized these inefficiencies and sought to address them by substantially changing which activities the company performed and how they were configured. He introduced the concept of assembly line production and used activity-based costing to redesign the manufacturing process for the Ford Model T.

Assembly line production involved dividing the manufacturing process into smaller, specialized tasks and then assigning each worker to a specific task. This allowed Ford Motor Company to produce cars at a much faster rate and reduced the cost of production.

Activity-based costing was used to identify the activities that were essential to the manufacturing process and those that were not. Ford then eliminated or streamlined non-essential activities to improve efficiency.

The results were significant. Ford Motor Company was able to produce cars at a rate that was five times faster than their competitors and at a fraction of the cost. The Ford Model T became widely available and affordable to the average consumer, transforming the automotive industry and making cars an integral part of American society.

The success of the Ford Model T was not only due to the innovative assembly line production but also the effective use of activity-based costing to identify inefficiencies and streamline processes. By reconfiguring their activities, Ford Motor Company was able to become radically more efficient, resulting in a disruptively low-cost structure.

The lessons learned from the Ford Model T case study can be applied to small businesses. By using activity-based costing, small businesses can identify inefficiencies in their operations and streamline or eliminate activities to improve efficiency. This can lead to cost savings, increased productivity, and ultimately, increased success.

Applying Activity-Based Costing to Small Businesses

Activity-based costing is a method of accounting that helps businesses understand the costs associated with each activity they perform. By analyzing the costs of each activity, businesses can identify inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.

For small businesses, implementing activity-based costing can be a powerful tool for identifying inefficiencies and improving operations. Here are some steps small businesses can take to apply activity-based costing to their operations:

  1. Identify the activities involved in each business process – Start by identifying each step involved in a particular process. This may involve breaking down a process into smaller, more specific activities. For example, if the process is product manufacturing, the activities might include raw material acquisition, production, packaging, and shipping.
  2. Determine the costs associated with each activity – Once the activities have been identified, the next step is to determine the costs associated with each activity. This might include direct costs such as labour and materials, as well as indirect costs such as overhead expenses.
  3. Analyze the cost drivers – A cost driver is a factor that influences the cost of an activity. For example, in manufacturing, the cost driver for production might be the amount of time it takes to complete a particular task. By analyzing the cost drivers for each activity, small businesses can identify which activities are the most expensive and which are the most efficient.
  4. Streamline or eliminate activities – Once the cost drivers have been identified, small businesses can take steps to streamline or eliminate activities that are inefficient or unnecessary. For example, if the cost driver for production is the amount of time it takes to complete a particular task, the small business might look for ways to reduce that time, such as investing in new equipment or reorganizing the production process.

By using activity-based costing to identify inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement, small businesses can become more efficient, reduce costs, and improve productivity. This can help them to compete more effectively and increase their chances of success.

Implementing a Business Model Overhaul

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of a business model overhaul and how to use activity-based costing to identify inefficiencies, let’s dive into how small businesses can implement a business model overhaul.

  1. Identify the Need for Change. The first step is to identify the need for change. This could be triggered by a decline in profits, low productivity, or customer complaints. Take a close look at your operations and identify which activities are inefficient or adding unnecessary costs. This will give you a starting point for your overhaul.
  2. Design the New Business Model. Once you’ve identified the areas that need improvement, it’s time to design the new business model. This involves analyzing your current processes and identifying ways to streamline or eliminate activities. Use activity-based costing to help identify which activities are adding the most cost and prioritize those for redesign.
  3. Communicate with Your Team. Implementing a new business model will require buy-in from your team. It’s important to communicate the need for change and the benefits it will bring. Be transparent about the process and involve your team in designing the new business model. This will help to ensure everyone is on board with the changes.
  4. Train Your Team. Training is key to the success of a business model overhaul. Once the new business model has been designed, ensure your team has the necessary training to execute the new processes effectively. Provide ongoing training and support to help your team adapt to the changes.
  5. Monitor and Adjust. Finally, it’s important to monitor the new business model and make adjustments as needed. Evaluate the effectiveness of the new processes regularly and make adjustments where necessary. This will help to ensure the new business model is working as intended and that your business is operating as efficiently as possible.

Therefore, a business model overhaul can be a powerful tool for small businesses looking to address inefficiencies and increase their chances of success. By identifying the need for change, designing a new business model, communicating with your team, training your team, and monitoring and adjusting as needed, you can implement a new business model that streamlines your operations and sets your business up for long-term success.


Inefficiencies can hold small businesses back and lead to higher costs and lower productivity. However, by substantially changing which activities your company performs and how they are configured, you can become radically more efficient. The Ford Model T case study is an excellent example of how activity-based costing can help identify inefficiencies and streamline operations for success.

How We Can Help

At Accolade Coaching, we understand the importance of innovation and business model design in achieving success for small businesses. Our Innovation Creator Program helps small businesses identify and overcome inefficiencies in their operations to achieve success. By providing innovative solutions and tools, our program can help you streamline your business and achieve your goals.

We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insights and tips on how to address inefficiencies in your small business. For more in-depth discussions on similar topics, listen to “BizTalk with Emmanuel” podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeart. Also, subscribe to the Accolade Coaching’s YouTube channel for more coverage of this topic and more.

Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the success in your small business endeavours!

Join Accolade Coaching's free Innovation Mastermind Group to connect with other innovators, collaborate on ideas, and grow your success! Learn more>>
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Emmanuel Setyawan

A Strategyzer coach and Blue Ocean Strategy Australia consultant, Emmanuel brings remote delivery and time-proven, case study backed frameworks to remote strategy coaching and facilitation while helping customers create new or improve existing business models, design value propositions that capture new market or untapped needs and create a new way to generate revenue streams. Contact Accolade Coaching now and let Emmanuel help you work on your innovation strategy.