How many of you intend to grow and scale your businesses over the next 12 months? Quite a few I suspect. Before you jump in and start hiring new staff to achieve this, it’s worth taking some time out to see what more you can achieve with what you already have. This will ensure that you have a solid foundation to grow from.
As a small business, you’ll achieve the most success at scaling your operation by first getting your processes down and automating as much as you can without losing the essence that your clients value about you.
Working Out What You Do Today
So, your first course of action should be to look at all the processes within your business to work out what works and what doesn’t. Look at every process in terms of:
- What brings most client satisfaction and what dissatisfies them?
- What helps you to sell successfully and what hinders it?
- Identify any non-essential tasks that could be dropped without affecting your product /service.
- Can the length of time a process takes be shortened?
Working Out What You Could Be Doing
There’s a process that gets you and your customer from A to B in the most satisfactory way possible – you’re going to need to work out what this is from the experiences you’ve gathered to date.
Take a critical look at all the transactions that you’ve successfully completed and the ones that slipped you by. You need to take yourself outside of all emotion here and look deeply at what you did well and what you didn’t do so well on. You want to identify all the lessons learnt so, that you can amplify the positives and eradicate the negatives as much as possible.
Then map out processes that allow you to replicate your successful habits and actions repeatedly.
Working Out What You Can Automate
Until recently, it’s been expensive to introduce seamless technology to automate a small business, but with the advent of Software as a Service (SaaS), now it’s an affordable option for many and an avenue that should be explored once you’ve optimized your processes.
It’s vital that you take the time to review your processes first, or you’ll not get the full benefits of automation. Any system that you implement is only as good as the process that stands behind it; hence the saying “Junk In, Junk Out”.
You can pretty much automate any process these days – generally speaking you’re going to want to find a solution that integrates a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) that integrates sales, marketing, billing, payments, inventory, dispatch and accounting. You want to look for a solution that you can tailor to your needs; there are plenty of them out there. I’ll cover the top solutions in my next post.
Final Note on the Importance of Regular Reviews
Processes drift with new steps added to them on the fly to deal with firefighting during the normal course of business. It’s important to manage that drift by carrying out regular reviews to make sure that your processes continue to be tailored for optimal performance.
Managing your processes in this way and automating as much as possible, without losing your edge or personal touch, is the key to maximizing your profits whilst growing and scaling your business. It’s not a task that should be done in a vacuum, but one that needs to be carried out collaboratively with all the members of your team. You’ll be delighted and surprised by the creative contribution that the people around you can bring to the table.