As the founder or director of a start up or a SME, there are many challenges and demands on your time especially if you are expanding. You are often the key person within the business the fulcrum around which the business and staff pivot, the glue that keeps it all together and paradoxically the oil that smoothes its operation from service delivery to staff management. It can be a very difficult and demanding task even if you have a solid dependable lieutenant by your side, capable of eating administration tasks for breakfast and manipulating spreadsheets in their sleep!
Whatever sector that your business is in, whether that’s security, events organisation, festival staffing, small pub group management, media or television. Your time is of the essence and arguably the most valuable within the organisation.
Therefore, you really need to make sure that as little as possible of your time is wasted on mundane repetitive administrative tasks because you could be doing something else more valuable for your staff, your clients and your business. As an example of this, within SMEs there’s never enough time set aside to plan when planning for a SME can be critical.
Use simple easy to use tech solutions for key parts of your business. I appreciate that there will be a time investment on your part learning and understanding each new part of tech you use but, consider this as part of the planning cycle for your business.
Quite often the “challenge” or “opportunity” to use a new or different tech solution can be a valuable information and system re-assessment opportunity. A business can come up with ideas on the ways things could be done better or more efficiently.
5 Key issues for a Start Up or SME are:
1.Staff and People
Key is hiring the right team. Not just a team that says yes but that can reason with you and point out the pitfalls of a certain strategy or plan. They won’t always be as dedicated as you but the right “can do” attitude is vital. You need to find the right people, remunerate them properly and keep them content. I have learned the hard way that you need to listen to them, acknowledge them and involve them in the decision making process of the company. An engaged employee is a better, more productive employee.
Hand in hand with staff and people come your organisation and self management skills that are both necessities for running a company and managing others. It’s not normally enough to have the ideas and let everyone less deal with them, refine them and put them into practice. Good leaders lead by example and demonstrate great leadership through their conduct, communication and by setting an example.
As you start you need adequate seed funding to make sure your suppliers invoices are paid on time or as agreed so as not to tarnish your company’s reputation. On the other side of the coin you need to ensure that your customers pay you on time and have the resource to chase them if they don’t/ There are many very cheap legal letter writing services from as little as £2 that you could use automatically as a “prompt to pay”. It’s all about the cash. Remember, your business can be very profitable but can cease due to lack of cash.
Give your customers what they want, when they want it and with minimum effort on their part and you have a very good chance that they will keep coming back. Assess each customer for ease of dealing with vs profitability. Can you win more business from the more profitable clients and are you happy with the level of your dependence upon each customer in % of your business terms? In my opinion you should always let your belief in and your enthusiasm for what you are doing, have designed or what you are selling shine through. As you start out or even in a small business don’t lose sight of the fact that the company will have no reputation to cash in on or sell off the back of and so you aren’t really selling the product you are selling yourself.
5.Growth and Expansion
Initiating and encouraging growth can be a real challenge for a business as can controlling it. You don’t want the company’s focus to be all about growth and for expansion to get so out of control creating too big a demand on the company’s resources. This could lead to poor customer service and lost business.
I have definitely been guilty of this in the past. For a one man band or a director of a SME to have to deal with or face all of the above challenges can be difficult and at times it can feel overwhelming. There are tech solutions to help and at PARiM we make use of as many of these as we can find but if you look at the list below and have a free or better value alternative connect with me by email, on LinkedIn or via Twitter and let me know.
Cost effective solutions to the administrative burden
By introduction to the programs or software we use I would like to say that every one we use is cloud based. Our program PARiM is cloud based and we might feel slightly uncomfortable as a group of individuals using a program that wasn’t based or available in the same way we make our software available, anywhere anytime when you have access to WiFi or broadband.
Customer relationship management - Capsule For customer relationship and sales lead management we use CapsuleCRM which wouldn’t be the best but is a very good reasonably priced CRM system that allows you to build an effective sales pipeline.
To Do List - Trello For To Do work lists and management information boards we use Trello and swear by it. You could probably also use other programs but we found this the easiest for us.
Legal documents and framework – Simply docs I have used Simply-docs for many years and they are a cost effective solution for all manner of business related templates and information. The site and resources are very easy to use and for basic needs can save a lot of money.
Emailer for leads, newsletters, update and customers - Mailchimp, PARiM uses Mailchimp. Again, it’s very easy to use, create your own templates and manage your target lists and you can get great stats on the opens, clicks and activity of your target audience.
Google Apps - Yes it’s Google but we have found that it’s a great way of sharing documents and managing information that all of us need to see.
There are many easy to use, cost effective solutions that can help you run your company more efficiently, reducing the administrative burden or as I like to say “minimising the mundane”. Why waste time and spend money on I.T when a cloud based to do list can be seen by all. As an entrepreneur or small business person you may be a workaholic but at least these programs allow you to work from home more easily and do the tasks when you want to do them so that you aren’t tied to the office.
Really that’s THE CORE VALUE OF or why we have designed PARiM Workforce Management Software the way we have. It raison d’aitre reduces the mundane repetitive tasks necessary for running a workforce even when it’s across multiple locations. We set out to put the management and staff of a company (and clients where necessary) ALL on the same page. To make it easy for the staff to engage with the rota or shift planning systems and procedures; to self schedule if possible!