If your business is to scale, then it needs to be able to run without you.
It can be hard to let go of the operational side of your business. After all, you have been there from the beginning and built your business from scratch. You are probably the only person who truly understands every aspect of the business and it is likely that no one can do certain tasks as well as you can.
But if your clients will only work with you, if quotes can only be generated by you or if bills are only paid for by you, your business will never be able to scale. You will become the bottleneck to the businesses growth.
You need to accept that you cannot be everywhere, so you need to ensure that you have the team and the systems in place so you can maintain an overview while you continue to develop your business.
In my last blog, I ran through how you can develop and recruit your team to assist you in scaling your business. In this blog, I will look at the systems you can have to compliment this and ensure your work flow runs efficiently and consistently.
Invest in your IT and security
If you want your business to run smoothly and efficiently, you need to invest both in your IT and also your IT security.
The goal is to have systems that are easy to set up for every new hire that you have. And systems that integrate with each other so that your processes are carried out consistently across your entire business.
It can be tempting to control your IT security by keeping all the passwords either in your head or written down somewhere safe. This may have felt perfectly adequate when your business was just you or the team was very small, but this is not a scalable or long-term solution.
While you may not want every employee to have access to all the business passwords, there is software available such as 1Password which will keep everything safe and secure for you. It will also mean that should you take time away from the business, or exit it all together, all passwords will be accessible to the senior management or new owners.
Where possible, ensure that all files are organized and stored securely so that important and permanent documents such as incorporation and finance papers, leases and contracts can be easily found.
Focus on projects and task management
Project and task management is a very important area to consider when trying to scale your business. Too often task management is something that can develop organically, with every employee having their own way of delivering your key services.
While an ad-hoc approach can work when it is only yourself delivering the service, if you are trying to scale, then you need to develop systems that can be followed by every single employee to maintain a level of consistency.
You need to ask yourself, “what do I need to put in place within my company so my business can run without me?”
Because mapping out project and task management processes can quickly become quite complex and lengthy, we recommend avoiding using Excel and Word. This is because they were not designed for this task and your processes will become muddled and unclear.
Instead, look at a cloud-based project management system such as TeamWork which has been designed specifically for this purpose. This software will allow you to document all tasks per client/project, allocate tasks to your team and build your knowledge base by writing training manual templates and check lists for your company.
Understand your finances beyond the data entry
When your business is small and starting up, it is very common for the owner to handle all the finances. As your business grows, data entry is not a good or effective use of your time.
Scaling businesses or owners of lifestyle business who want to free up some time will typically look to outsource their finances or hire an internal bookkeeper.
The key thing to remember is that your finances will underpin everything that your business does or will want to achieve. You need to monitor your cashflow and maintain healthy margins. Finance is not a done for your service; it will always involve a degree of collaboration.
Technology has revolutionized how your finances can be recorded and accessed, resulting in simple systems that can ensure you can keep track of your finances where ever you are.
Here at Nipren, we recommend using Hubdoc as a way of electronically collecting and securely storing your invoices and receipts. We run through our favorite 3 online financial systems in our blog 3 amazing bookkeeping apps if you would like more information.
You may also want to integrate your client onboarding process into the financial systems. There are proposal systems that link to some of the online accounting systems, so once they are signed by the client, invoices are automatically generated.
Regardless of what systems you decide to use, we recommend getting your HR department to put an internal control policy in place. This will help you to delegate and monitor how your business deals with purchases, company credit card usage, expenses thresholds and the general segregation of tasks.
Automate your marketing
Everyone markets their businesses differently, but if you are going to scale your business, you need to ensure that you are not the only person that can bring in new clients and customers.
This means that you will need to begin to break your marketing down into systems which your team can easily replicate.
Invest the time into looking at what has worked for you and what hasn’t.
Have you always written your own content for blogs? Providing team members with the opportunity to write blog content about some of the topics they find clients asking about can spread the content writing around, and will also provide content from a wide variety of perspectives.
Have you used networking as a marketing tool? If so, where have you networked? What groups have you attended? What people have been attracted to your business? Allow your team to attend networking events and build up their own professional circles and referral partnerships so that they can start to generate new business when you decide to step away from these duties.
The aim is to create a repeatable process that doesn’t revolve around you.
If you are about to start the process of scaling your business, contact us if you would like some advice and guidance on how to create effective systems within your business.