Last week I wrote about some of the challenges facing Start Ups and SME’s and in this blog I would like to continue with another one of the key issues they face. The time required for the strategic planning and why you, as a Startup or SME should make it a priority.
Thinking about or planning to start a business?
If you’re at the point of considering starting your own business, then there’s no better place to start looking than The Start Up Loan Scheme via Start-Up Direct, where PARiM got its initial shareholder funding almost two years ago. The scheme helps entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground with a loan and mentoring support. When I looked at the Start Up loans site the other day the counter showed that they had lent £102,881,169 to 20,388 businesses.
On the downside of business funding, two years ago the Government launched its “Funding for Lending Scheme” and in this good article, The International Business Times lays out why this scheme has ultimately failed. However, as options like the Start Up Loans Scheme thrive other innovative schemes, where companies can find simple lending solution, such as Crowdfunding have sprouted and proved very successful.
Types of issues facing SMEs and Start Ups
Issues or challenges facing SME’s and Start Ups aren’t all internal and staff related. You will be faced with many challenges that you need to deal with as the director or owner. Some of these will be external and come from outside the business, in the shape of changing tax rates, national insurance rates and policies such as The Flexible Working Policy I referred to in my blog.
A key issue is finding the time for strategic planning
So, as a business owner you need to juggle all these different types of challenges, managing the external type of challenges with those inside the company. The one thing that’s almost guaranteed is that starting up a company or running an SME there will be frequent difficult challenges or situations in front of you, frequently at the same time.
To give you the best way of handling these challenges or situations with the best solution is to create time to plan:
-“But I haven’t got time to plan”, I hear you say!
And to some extent, I can understand where you are coming from and how you feel. From my experience, when you are emotionally and financially completely committed to a business, it can blur your clarity of vision and many things can seem urgent or requiring immediate attention. If you took a step back, they wouldn’t seem that way. It’s very easy to become a victim to tunnel vision and forget the big picture (to coin two well known phrases). I have been there and recognise that ultimately or in the long term your business will suffer. With all the day to day pressures of running a business planning and time for strategic planning can quite often go on the back burner.
Some common reasons given by SME business owners and directors for not planning included:
- Business planning and the planning process is outside my comfort zone.
- Planning can lead to change and there is a fear of change.
- There’s no need to plan the business is fine.
- Nothing within the current business or its external factors have initiated change or the need to plan.
It’s always best to face the fear and find ways to helps reduce the burden of administration on your business so that you liberate time to plan.
One way to free up or liberate time:
- is to choose a technological solution that replaces the human part of repetitive administrative tasks that take your time and that of the key members of your management team. It may well give you a great feeling of inner satisfaction to produce a multicoloured multi tab spreadsheet showing the weekly rota, but it might also have taken you four hours, never mind the time, to wade through all these timesheets. Maybe when emailing customers you click through each one and copy and paste the same text amending it for their Christian names.
Another example of wasted time and resource:
- use something like Mailchimp. There are many new types of technology or programs that aim to be affordable, easy to use or set up, are cloud based and require little support. If they are cloud based you can play around with them on your phone, at home or on the commute into work.
My advice would be to embrace them:
- because whilst there will be a learning curve they will ultimately save you a huge amount of time. Make data accessible where ever you are and should lead to a better quality of life. For example, if you have young kids, you could go home early, see the kids, read them a story and then do the emailing or scheduling quickly and efficiently, once they’re asleep!
As I said in my last blog, we are excited by new technology and use many different programs to run our business and we are always looking for new solutions to automate and reduce the time spent on repetitive admin tasks. They can be tedious and a real burden. So that’s the core value and target behind PARiM. Not only do we want to make communication so easy and put the management, staff and where applicable, client all on the same page effortlessly, but our purpose is to liberate the time you and your staff spend scheduling, collating and approving timesheets, tracking certificates and working out who has what uniform or company asset?