What’s Your Capacity?


At a recent business event, Norm Brodsky, a long-time columnist for Inc., mentioned the word “capacity.” 

It got me thinking about my capacity. Here’s what capacity means and what you can do about it.

Capacity is best defined as the maximum output from something.

Capacity can be the space you’re in, the load that your truck can carry, or the work you can do in the time you have to do it.

Your business is only as great as the capacity you have. If you want to do more business, you have to increase capacity. You may need a larger or a second location. You may need a bigger truck or a second vehicle. You can’t add time, but you can add people to handle more work.

If you know your capacity is limited, you have two choices when it comes to new business: increase your capacity (explained later) or turn that business away. Turning business away is always ‘iffy.’ You never know if the opportunity will present itself again when you can handle it. You can increase your capacity for business by limiting your free (pro bono) work. Many businesspeople, like myself, agree to do various things for no pay. It is often justified from a business perspective as having a promotional benefit. While you may want to “give back” by providing freebies, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis if you want to increase your capacity.

Increasing capacity

Capacity can be increased by efficiency. Here are some ways to help you get started:

  • Scheduling. As Shakespeare said (in Julius Caesar), “timing is everything.” If you are a manufacturer, you know that production scheduling is vital to optimize production. The same is true for service businesses where billing is based on the hours worked; the more hours scheduled, the greater the billing.
  • Share the load. You can’t do it all yourself; rely on others to help you do more. For example, if you currently work alone, engage an assistant to help you with administrative chores, social media, and other tasks. This will free you to concentrate on the core activities of your business.
  • Software. Automate some business practices, such as customer relations, with software or cloud solutions. By definition, automation is a time saver, giving you more time (capacity) to handle other things.
  • Systematize. Forgo the ad hoc way of doing business in favor of setting up systems for everything.

Final thought

Think about it: What’s your capacity and what do you want to do about it? Your answers will help direct your business activities going forward.