Having the right technology in place can help answer that question. This will help any small business do what they do best – but even better and with more profit – and free up time to focus on growth.
Think about your current systems and processes with the following six ideas in mind.
Efficiency is not just a buzzword from consultants. It is an idea that should always be in the back of your mind when developing new business processes or review existing ones. Take a lesson from manufacturing and look for scalable, repeatable processes in your business that keep your team in mind. Don’t treat your staff like robots, but keep them from doing tasks in ways that don’t make logical sense.
Small businesses frequently grow in fits and starts and their systems often follow that pattern. Some activities even exist outside those systems. It used to be called paper, but now it is impractical to look up customer invoices on a paper report, because no one accesses to the billing system. The customer record lives somewhere else. And don’t forget about those business cards from the last trade show gathering dust on the corner of your desk.
Unless your small business is so small that everyone is in the same room (and I’m not talking about a loft with an open floor plan), you need simple ways to communicate with each other. Sure, email works, but it is an interruptive process. And what happens when you need to add someone to the message thread? Now they have read back through a thread with strange indents and lots of email signature lines. And what happens when you need to dig that information out of your email? Who was it from? What customer was it about? Teams need to communicate in a way that captures that information and connects it to the right customer or vendor.
Do you or your boss walk around the office checking in on everyone’s progress toward their goals? The sales team might have a leader board on the wall, but what about the human resources team? Are they meeting their hiring goals? Managers need more than anecdotal data to know that the business is on track. Centralized reporting is needed to understand all aspects of your business, especially growth. If you could have one screen with a series of dashboards tracking key metrics, what are the ones that show that your business is achieving its vision?
Some people like to put headphones on, focus on their own projects and leave at 5:00 on the dot. Small business managers wear many hats, and very often the best workers in a fast-growing environment operate the same way. This means ad hoc project teams form for short periods to get things done. The people on those projects go back to their regular tasks afterwards. Collaboration systems need to support regular and temporary teams in ways that make sense.
Not everyone has the luxury for a fully customized, large-scale computer system implementation. Even if budget were no object (which it always is), this is not always the best solution for your business needs. Some would even say it never is. Regardless of budget or scope, nearly any system you choose allows for some level of customization. Make sure you consider how even small changes can make a big difference in operations.
To explore these six ideas in more depth, so you can focus on the other activities required to grow your business, download this free ebook, Six Keys to Small Business Success.