The Ugly Truth About Business Growth
Why is it that the word “process” causes you to glaze over an entire message? I suspect it’s because as business owners, it’s the one thing that can lead you down a rabbit hole of time and cost commitments. It’s the one thing that you never quite see ending — right?
To be honest, I believe it was the one investment in my business that I think changed the game. It helped me get more focused on outcomes and avoid the dreaded “busy work”.
For an organization to survive and thrive, you need to have internal systems to accomplish business goals. I know it may seem counter-intuitive for those who love creativity and freeform, but it has actually been documented that instituting processes will help you become even more creative and innovative in your business.
Plus, regardless of its nature, in many ways a business is a living, breathing organism, requiring all its systems to coalesce in order to meet a certain demand. Today, I will cover how a well-oiled internal system can help you focus on business growth.
Everyone’s Favorite: Basic Business Processes and Their Basic Tenents?
In simpler terms, a business process is a set of activities or steps that need to be complete for a given destination or goal. For most businesses, they are the building blocks of your company. Every process should serve specific roles within the company and works alongside other processes to ensure homogeneity and continuity. Here are some core areas within any business where processes should be applied regardless of the business:
Marketing is a vital component of your effort to monetize your company’s products or services. Customer needs the ability to find your business.
A sales process is important for supporting your marketing efforts. It’s the next step of converting who you are and what you do with money. A well-defined sales process will move marketing prospects to action.
If we consider marketing and sales the heart of your services, then accounting is the brain of the business. It all comes down to the numbers and if they make sense and a profit.
An efficient operational structure should ensure that every communication channel between departments is optimal. It’s the reliable business flow that ensures the core of the business meets requirements set forth.
The Forgotten Ones: Other Business Processes To Consider For Optimal Growth
Although they are not as sexy, having a process for cost estimation, content management or even document management are just as vital to your business. As your business starts to mature costs and risk begin to increase. Implementing all of these processes are important to the survivability, health, and profitability of your business.
As a pricing professional I believe, regardless of if you are a small or a large company, you need to have a system which can produce accurate estimations of the costs. It holds especially true if you have a product-based business. The system must include estimation techniques, approaches, procedures, and policies. If you offer services it’s helpful to have an estimation system for cost realism early on in the business. It helps you establish your profitability markers going forward.
Content management for business can show up in multiple ways. But the basics of managing content are drafting, reviewing, revising, approving, publishing and archiving media. Whether it’s in written form, video, graphics or digital voice, the process of managing all these activities requires the establishment of systems and workflows. The creation of work accountability can start with content management process.
If your company is involved with purchasing of equipment or material, your priority should be set to establishing a sound detailed purchasing process. Even if the business doesn’t engage in large purchases for customers, you should still have a formal process by which to purchase items for the business. In fact, studies reveal those businesses that plan their purchases, are more profitable. Purchasing processes create expenditure disciplines; which ultimately leads to our bottom line.
Documentation and Management
Setting the priority for staff to document their activities is a challenge for most businesses, but in the age of cost and staff reductions, one way we can create efficiencies is to have a documentation process. The ability to automate processes in ways that reduce the time and effort are priceless especially for small businesses who have to staff that wear several hats. If you create a documented process that improves customer response times, shortens the invoicing procedures or increases the productivity of a submitted customer proposal — why would you not take advantage of that?
There is no single bullet for growth and success, but having systems and process in your business put you much further ahead than those that don’t. If you take nothing else from this post, I want you to take away this – establishing internal controls fulfills business compliance, operational necessity, management of risk areas and continuous improvement functions. At the end of the day, it’s about growth and business sustainability.