Most recently I have been asked to help a number of clients to stream line systems and processes for their small/medium sized businesses. It is interesting now that we are a few months into the new calendar year I have been approached by several small business owners who feel like they are out of control with the way they are or are not operating their businesses. Once upon a time they had structure but either due to growth or lack of time or a combination of both, the systems and processes they have in place no longer serve the business well. Hence their call to do something about it and get in touch with me in order to assist.
For those who do not know my background this type of work is what I have basically done all of my career when working for others in the various project management, marketing or general management positions. I really enjoy getting in and making a difference to the lives of business owners.
So why is this so important for a small/medium sized businesses?
Systems and processes play a significant role in building and growing a business. They serve as the business essential building blocks and support. Hence, it is necessary for business owners to incorporate them into their businesses. It is also important to consider the efficiency and accuracy of the business systems.
One of the biggest reasons is that you can focus on the most important aspect of your business by meeting the demands of your clients and not having to worry as much about the administration and backend if you have put the time and effort into establishing the necessary systems and processes so that it runs both efficiently and productively.
How might you go about setting up systems and processes?
When I work with clients in this area it is important to start with a business audit/review – where by we discuss and work through many issues like the following:
- How is the business structured?
- How do you operate – describe what the business does from the front end to the back end? How does it all come together?
- How many staff do you have and who is responsible for what roles?
- What do you believe is working well for you? Where do you feel you are efficient?
- Where do you believe the challenges are? What issues do you experience and are they regular occurances?
- What areas do you believe you can or would like to streamline?
- Are you meeting all your financial and tax obligations? What are your process around this?
- What is your IT structure – what applications do you use? Do you back up your systems? (Often many businesses do not have adequate systems around this which is just vital to the survival of a business should anything happen – when did you last review this for your business?)
- Do you have a budget?
- Do you have a business and marketing plan in place?
- Do you have a reporting process in place so you know how the business is going and are able to track growth?
- Who is on your team in terms of advisors?
By working through all of the above, and more, only then is there an opportunity to identify the areas of the business that need attention and ensure systems and processes are put in place. For instance one of my recent clients wants to triple the growth of their business and understands the importance of ensuring all of the backend systems and processes are established to support this growth. With so many plans and ideas for growth I explained to my client the necessity of prioritising and putting certain parts of those plans into place first before trying to do it all. The danger by trying to do it all at once is that nothing actually gets done well and the business does not grow as planned. In this clients instance we identified the importance of recruiting an admin assistant/bookkeeper and then all the other bits and pieces will be able to flow from there.
For another client they were struggling with the manual paperwork and manual processes for their business that they needed to review how they operated to improve efficiency and productivity. By working through the current way they operated I was able to work with them to identify the areas that could be streamlined and automated which would save them time that they were craving. Gaining more time has been beneficial to these clients on both a business and personal level – it has allowed them more time to be out growing the business whilst giving them more time to enjoy life and not feel they are working all the time.
If you are operating a small to medium sized business when was the last time you took a step back and reviewed the way you are operate and function? If you haven’t done this ever, or for some time, then make the time and allow yourself time and space to review what is and isn’t working as efficiently as it can. After identifying this you will then be able to make changes or seek the input or help to do so. At the end of the day we all want our businesses to do well and it is important to make time for both working IN and ON your business.
If you are not sure of the best place to start or would like some assistance in this area please do get in touch as I am only more than too happy to get you on track.
Here’s some further reading I thought would be useful to share with you on why this is so important to your business: