How to make sure your business has everything it needs to grow
When I was a younger guy, whenever I would get a gadget, while I might have enjoyed it, I always thought about what the toy will be like in the future, perhaps with the same anticipation as many people have about the next generation of mobile technology. One of the things that always bothered me was the question of why things weren’t designed to be used with the next generation of products.
For example, with a computer, you might be able to upgrade the amount of memory, how fast it runs, and swap out different components, but yesterday’s computer probably may not be able to run tomorrow’s software as effectively as tomorrow’s computer will. Yesterday’s computer lacks true forward compatibility.
From a producer perspective, a producer could probably get consumers to believe that there are huge changes in the same old product in a different box and sell it again – every year in some cases. This, of course, is what drives revenue. But I digress…
As a business owner, the question begs to be asked: how have you designed your company for the future? I don’t mean – how have you thought about it, or what kind of planning have you done, but rather, what are the actual activities or tactical decisions you have made that will prepare the company as it grows toward the future.
For example, with your accounting system: do you have a formal accounting or financial management process that goes beyond collecting all of your receipts, dumping them in a shoe box along with bank statements and handing them to your bookkeeper each month/quarter/year/whenever you think about it? Do you think that there might be better ways to manage your finances so that you can see how your company is performing at any given time? In doing so, don’t you think it would be easier to hand off financial management as your company grows?
Of course. At the end of the day, it will probably cost you a lot less to keep things organized, help you understand where your cash is going and where you might need to cut back or invest. Poor management is one of the top reasons small businesses fail.
- Start with your company vision – where you want your company to go. Is it a single location with 100 employees, or multiple locations with offices both domestically and internationally?
- Develop a mission – why you do what you do. Your mission will help to dictate how you get to the vision and will keep you and your decision-making on track
- Develop a plan to get there – use stages and start very high level, then
- Look at the components of your business – sales, marketing, finance, products and services, Human Resources, management and IT – and determine what these will look like at each stage.
- Determine what resources will be required to support each function at each level.
Look, for example, at business management – how to manage the business. One of the things that has plagued small businesses is the idea that not all software solutions play well together. So we would end up with an email service that doesn’t communicate with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, which doesn’t talk to the bookkeeping system, none of which interact well with the marketing system. Ideally, they should all play nicely together so that those using the system don’t have to update five systems manually in order to get an idea of what the big picture looks like!
So in planning for the future, we would want to have a system that either has native integration between the systems (they are all built into one solution), have a tool custom built that will enable all of the systems to work together or use an online service that will do the same.
In any case, when a business is young and has very few contacts and things can be done manually, it doesn’t seem to be a top priority for the business. However, when the business is in a growth stage, it can sometimes be too late or very expensive to make the necessary changes…which can be the case with each component of the business.
So if you are planning on building a business that is extraordinary, think in terms of where your business is going, versus staying completely focused on where it is. Sure – you will need to take one step at a time and not tie up all of your resources in assets that you cannot use. Rather think strategically – in terms of how the business will operate the most efficiently at each stage and plan for it as you invest and grow.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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