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As much as we businesses owners want to be personally involved every single aspect of our company, there eventually comes a point when the business is growing too much for one or a few people. To make sure each part of the proverbial business “ship” is running smoothly, owners and managers must establish efficient procedures, processes and systems.
Here are a few tips on making that happen.
We present to you a visual representation of last week's blog post on raising the bar with your practical processes at your small business. If you
have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
In any Small Business, there is a prevalent set of business processes that must exist for a strong foundation. These practical processes provide more than a set of rules for you and your employees, but help create and solidify the consistency, efficiency and innovation of your company.
Here are four essential examples.
1) Of course the goal of a business is to make money; therefore, you need a strong process for your Financial Management. The size of your small business/solo venture will determine how extensive this will need to be. Take the initial steps of setting up a company
bank account, ordering a company credit card, choosing your bookkeeping software, creating a budget and documenting your financial procedures.
Using the right technology combined with the right professionals allows you to automate this process for the most accurate results, and knowing
the amount of assets, liabilities and equity your company has equips you to make smarter financial decisions.
2) In order to keep the cash flowing, every business needs to utilize a Sales & Marketing process
to keep their name in front of potential clients/customers and service then in good standing. Develop your brand through a mix of traditional approaches
and digital practices with a decidedly personal touch; your customers and clients want to know that they matter and that the information you provide
benefits them beyond the product or service. For sales, create and maintain a schedule of measurable objectives, goals, benchmarks and checkpoints
along with specific procedures for documenting new and current clients. However, give yourself and your sales staff the flexibility to adjust the
process if something isn’t working.
3) At some point even the solopreneur will find the need for outside help, and for those small businesses that rely on employees, a proficient
process for dealing with Talent Management will help ensure
less problems. If you haven’t already, create an employee handbook and//or specific orientation process for every new hire. Provide opportunities
for professional development and training as often as you can, so that all team members feel invested in the company, no matter how small or large
their role actually is. Have weekly, monthly or quarterly “all-staff” meetings as well as an open door policy for feedback and evaluations. Many
employees desire to know how they are performing in their position, but often feel too afraid to ask.
4) Finally, your company must have an exhaustive Operations Management process that makes everything flow together, bringing all of the above into your products, the who, what, when and even why to your business. Establish essential daily operation policies for employee benefits and sick leave/vacation time, create company objectives and select and cultivate healthy relationships with your vendors. If need be, hire a reliable, coachable and client-oriented operations manager.
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Just like you would not start your company without first completing a business plan, you would not attempt to manage your business records without organizing your files. People have asked me about organization tips for their home and business files, so I want to provide some help here.
1) Start generic: Write down a list of the categories you want to use for your folders. Begin looking through your files and place them in the appropriate file folder (for these initial categories, I would suggest pendaflex files). Do not try to get specific with subcategories just yet. You want to start with the big picture and eventually get detailed. Main folders can include Automobile Repairs, Credit Cards, Payroll, Human Resources, and more.
2) Get specific: Once you establish your "main folders," use manila folders to create subcategories. An example of a subcategory in Human Resources would be Insurance Paperwork, Vacation Policy or Employee Files. These tips also apply to the digital realm, especially with email.
3) Get organized and STAY organized: Prompted by declarations such as New Year's resolutions, we often get caught up in the excitement of setting goals for our personal and professional lives. However, once we hit the middle of the year (i.e. July), our discipline is often nonexistent. Similarly, when you seek to organize your business, you will discover a business-related adrenaline that helps you get through the initial challenges and encourages you to finish the project of establishing categories and subcategories. However, you must be willing to maintain these records and your organizational habits, especially when busy times come for your company. Do not fall behind if you have worked so hard to get ahead.
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Whether your team numbers two or twenty, developing practical processes for your business ensures the ability to maintain productivity in the different components of your company. Here are a few areas that need these practical processes:
1) Operations - Your day-to-day management makes up the foundation for both the spontaneous and routine aspects of your business. You can establish stability in your operations through a policies and procedures manual for all team members, the selection of your suppliers and vendors, and important checklists for your administrative and executive assistants.
2) Marketing and Sales - These areas of your business bring new life to your company as well as maintain the brand and voice of your objectives. Be sure to assign goals to your sales team, so they can hit measurable results of acquiring new customers and clients. Provide a branding guide for your marketing team that keeps the delivery of your products professional and consistent.
3) Finances - As worrisome as money can make people, you cannot ignore its significance in the maintenance and growth of your business. Find consistent, practical processes to document and manage your revenue and cash flow. You do not want to mix up or lose important financial records, especially when tax season comes along.
4) Talent - Unless you're a solopreneur, you rely on your team to accomplish the totality of your company goals. If you want your team members and leaders to reach their full potential for your business, invest heavily in initial training and professional development.
After creating these practical processes, remember to evaluate them from time to time. You want your company to grow, so be willing to innovate when necessary.
As a small business owner, you and your team juggle many tasks. Some of these tasks are unique and change frequently. However, you also complete several projects in the same way every single time.
Documenting processes creates a streamlined approach for effective management. Here are some reasons why your company should practice documentation.
1) Unexpected or planned absences – If your team is small, oftentimes an absent member can hinder productivity, especially if their position comprises of specific or specialized tasks. Documenting processes allows your business to create specific instructions and objective for each position. Whether a team member is out with the flu or is enjoying an island vacation for two weeks, you or one of your team members will keep the business on track by referencing your documented processes.
2) A Unified Company Approach – We all have our preferences and habits when it comes to working and marking things off our to-do lists. However, no matter how big or small your business is, some tasks and processes need to be uniform for everybody. Documenting processes such as clocking in/out, submitting expense reports and creating presentations reduces confusions and helps speed up productivity for the various departments.
3) New Hire Training – One aspect prospective and new team members look for in a company is the depth of their new hire training. Documenting processes in one central database allows managers to quickly create training materials for every department and position. Once training is complete, team members still have the option to access the materials should any questions arise.
4) Process Review and Innovation
– As important as documentation is, your company should also take time at least a few points during the year to review your processes. Ask
objective questions from your management and team members to see how things can be improved for each process. Be open to these suggestions will also
give your team members a sense of ownership in their position