Let’s face it, we all overcomplicate things. When you’re starting a business there’s a hell of a lot of things you can overcomplicate. You might overcomplicate the build of your website. You might overcomplicate the process for chasing invoices. You might overcomplicate the way you write a simple email.
It’s also tempting to follow what the big, successful competitors are doing. But, you shouldn’t. As a new business, you’ve got the gift of a clean slate. You can get things right from day one, without the shackles of legacy systems and processes hampering your activity.
We’ve put together a rundown of some tips and tricks to help you get your business working smoothly and efficiently so that you can worry about overcomplicating dinner instead.
1. Stop with all the paper processes – Automate!
Automation is a word you’ve 100% heard millions of times. But what does it actually mean? Here’s a handy explanation from Wikipedia:
Automation is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance.
It can be an amazingly empowering thing for small businesses. By not having to manually process tasks yourself, you’re free to focus on other things that a machine can’t do – such as getting more customers for your business.
Start by automating simple processes, using software to handle super mundane tasks like managing documents, contracts and invoices.
Hundreds of solutions exist to help you do this. For example, Signable. Signable uses software to automate the sending and signing of contracts and documents and then safely stores them in the cloud for easy access. Many small business accounting software products have automated features that allow you to send off invoices to customers and automatic reminder emails when they’re due for payment.
Less time spent, less human error, more time for you to automate some more…
2. Customer-data automation
It’s no good automating one side of your customer process and ignoring how you store the information they agree to you having. For example, imagine you’re a property management company, a tailored solution for you would allow you to automatically store property info, process requests, and questions from customers so that your team can easily access and close deals quicker.
There’s a multitude of BPM software solutions out there. Zoho creator and Bpm’online studio are great for small business as they’re scalable and can be used for everything, from customer acquisition to streamlining workflows.
3. Store what’s important in The Cloud
Aside from the new contracts you send and get signed, what do you do with the ones that already exist? Store them in The Cloud of course!
Cloud-storage is a great way of keeping everything safe and accessible, without clogging up your swanky Macbook. It eliminates the need for endless neon file tabs and disorganised folders. They also make collaboration far easier, offering a live workspace that everyone can contribute to. Some programmes are more imaginative than others but the standard ones are Google Drive, Box, and Amazon Drive.
4. Analyse what you’re already doing
As a new business, you may not be at the point where you know your processes inside out. As soon as you can, you should take the time to review your processes and identify ways you can be more efficient.
This will help you to automate or outsource your processes where possible, but also make each step better.
If you’ve already got a digital process in place that works, leave it for now. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, right?
5. Combine your communication
As your business grows, face-to-face communication becomes pretty hard. Plus, sending simple information or updates via email can be missed and unnecessarily clog up inboxes.
This is where an internal communication app comes in very handy. No, we’re not talking about Facebook Messenger. Apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack and the new Facebook Workplace offer instant messaging for all sizes of businesses.
You’re able to talk within teams and the whole company by setting up different channels or groups. Even if you’re only five employees strong, in time-sensitive scenarios (like setting off the office alarms) you’ll really be glad you’re not emailing.
- Once you’ve outlined a strong digital business plan, keep checking it. Constant improvement will push you ahead of your competition and keep you efficient.
- Think about the upcoming Millennial consumers. More than half of Annalect’s survey respondents (52%) consider a brand’s use of technology before making a purchase, and 39% say they are loyal to a brand that uses up to date technology.
If it doesn’t work, keep at it, you might not stumble onto the best BPM or digital tool first time around but try a few options. What works for your company might not be anything that’s worked for many others, and vice versa.