Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a year or two it is important to look to the future, imagine what your business will look like in a few years. Will it have grown, have added products and services?
There are a lot of opportunities for you to prepare your business today to meet future growth.
1. Educate yourself - Whether you are a service or product based business, now is the time to begin learning more about how to operate your business, and new innovations in your product or service line. Adding skills to your personal business inventory will prepare you to grow your business. Consider other areas of your business such as accounting practices, supervision/management, marketing, or learning new skills to make you more productive and efficient.
2. Look for opportunities to upgrade - Do you have a production machine that is nearing it's productive life cycle, or have business technologies that are nearing the time for replacement? Consider an upgrade that will help you improve your business rather than replacing with the same equipment/technology. Having the infrastructure already in place will help you meet business growth with little effort.
3. Build capital - When you start seeing profits, put some away for a rainy day and for when you are ready to expand your business. We call these funds our "Fall Back, Fall Forward" money. Having the necessary capital without having to borrow is a safer, not to mention a less stressful way to invest in your business. Building capital, business savings, will help you in so many ways. Also, investing in your business before you grow can provide some interesting economics for your business. Consider taking on new product lines without having a large upfront investment because you already prepared for it.
4. Be mindful of "pop-up" opportunities - Depending on your business, there may be opportunities that just materialize. Maybe a competing consulting service is going out of business, or a local retail competitor. This may the opportunity your business needs to grow. Some call it environmental scanning. Take a few hours to scan your business environment to identify opportunities, and of course risks so you can plan accordingly. You might be able to take on clients from failed or closing businesses, or buy up supplies from a competitor to help you grow your product line.
Overall, practice, "Think Now for Tomorrow" - As you navigate the business world, thinking about what you are doing today, as compared to what you will need to do tomorrow, will allow you to make strategic planning decisions.
For example: One of our clients who had been in business for about a year ask us to review their existing technology and business infrastructure to determine what it would look like when their business expanded. We provided a picture of what it would look like. As service contracts expired, they upgraded, they invested more in their marketing, and technology. We assisted in developing company policies, mapping key processes, employee training programs, and procedures that would accommodate growth. Eighteen months later their business did grow exponentially and they were prepared. One employee that had been with the company since the beginning commented, "It's really hard to remember what it was like the first year we started because we always new it would be like it is today."
We think the key to their growth was their vision that they would in fact grow their business even when they were small. They never considered they would not. Keeping your vision on the future while keeping an eye on what you can do today to prepare is a great way to grow.
It doesn’t matter what type of small business you have, there are office tasks you have to complete to operate successfully. In this article we are going to discuss some key operations that you need to have in place to make your business run effectively, efficiently, and, most importantly, economically. We call this the three “E’s” to successful small businesses.
Method for tracking your business expenses and income. Maybe you are starting with only a few customers and keeping handwritten or developing your own spreadsheet seems sufficient. In time, as business grows, and your memory fades, you need to have a method to easily track your finances. Plan for business growth at the start with a method, or program that will meet future growth needs. Accurate financial records are needed for the dreaded tax season and to ensure you are being profitable. Several programs are available that are free and those you pay for, that will help you track your expenses.
Again, no matter the business you need the appropriate technology to operate your business. Technology includes devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, or technology specific to your business offerings. The list goes on and on and greatly expands depending on the business you have. It is critical that you budget for a technology refresh throughout the life of your business. As technology advances occur rapidly, you need to refresh your technology on a regular recurring basis, often every 3-4 years. Refreshing your technology improves efficiency. Reduced time waiting on slow computers, or having to develop work-around's where technology outpaces your existing devices.
Internet Presence & Management
In this category we include email, web pages, and even social media if you are so inclined. Having a business web page and social media presence increases your reach to customers. Those that do business with you on a regular basis, and potential new customers often look online for contact information, to learn more about your business. Forget the idea that having a web page will increase your business overnight. From our experience, word-of-mouth advertising, then being easily found on the web is what builds your business. Chances are you will need business email to send invoices, communicate with customers, and to receive information about your business.
In any small business you will have suppliers that provide services and products to keep your business going. Develop relationships, shop around for suppliers that can provide you with discounts. If you are a consultant that travels, consider using the same motels to get preferred status as well as business travel discounts, and ease of tracking travel expenses. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts in the beginning or if you have been a long time customer. Reducing your supply costs increases your profit margin.
Hard copy and electronic files need to be handled in a consistent manner to increase your efficiency, reducing time to locate what you need when you need it. Take time to develop a logical filing system, one that is not overly complicated. Include email filing as well. (See article on Email Organization) Include working methods that improve your effectiveness in accomplishing office tasks. Schedule time each day or a few times a week to focus on the filing and work systems to keep your business operating smoothly.
All of these ideas, or considerations, will help you operate your business effectively, and efficiently, which equals working more economically, saving you time and money. Set a reminder on your calendar every six months, maybe with a link to this article, to review each area presented and see where you can improve.
Follow us on twitter for new articles
Holmes-Tech LLC. All rights reserved.
950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 422
Stockbridge, GA 30281