Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
Starting out in small business we often make up processes as we go and use workarounds to avoid large expenditure as we start-up. If you’re not careful, you can be a 60 person business operating like you’re a one person operation! To avoid this, we need to identify all the tasks we repeat, and look at systems and processes that can be implemented that will save us time and/or money.
What do we need to have processes for?
If you repeat the task (even yearly), then you should have a systemised process for it. An example for me is a booking confirmation email. Initially for each confirmation, I manually typed an email that would take around 10 minutes to do. As I needed to send about 10 a week, it was taking too much time. So I created an email signature with all the information required, including some of the standard locations and an optional business diagnostic section. Now I can add the name, time, adjust the location information and the diagnostic, all in a minute or two. That seemingly small change saved me over an hour a week!
In this case I have the email signature, but in other cases it may involve implementing a new system and documenting the procedure as well.
Starting out we don’t have the money to spend on expensive systems. However, with new technology always being released, and as our business grows, we can replace our clunky manual workarounds with faster more streamlined systems. This could include bookkeeping, client relationship management (CRM), booking and confirmations … the list really is endless. If you spend quite a bit of time on a task, do a search and see if a system could help you – you may be really surprised by what’s available! Zapier is a tool that allows systems to link with each other, and can allow you to pick the best of each system type, rather than compromising on a system that does everything, but not very well!
Most people think of those dusty, heavy policies and procedures manuals that only ever got referred to as a last resort, and invariably the procedure you needed was out of date! I worked at McDonald’s during university and everything was fully documented in a combination of manuals, videos, checklists and a little black book quick reference guide that managers could carry in their pockets.
Roll on to today and we can operate in a similar way, though utilising more modern technology. Rather than a lengthy written guide how to check a photocopier jam, now they’re often built into the photocopier itself. If not, consider doing a video, as a picture tells a 1000 words, clearly a video tells many more! Videos, checklists, diagrams, whatever works for the process can be documented. These can then be stored on an intranet (a private website), or somewhere like shared folders on Google Drive.
Using the procedures
Having documented procedures allows us to outsource functions, delegate tasks to employees, and save time and mistakes when repeating the task next time. The procedures shouldn’t stay on the shelf but rather be maintained regularly. If something changes, make sure to update the procedures.
Need help reviewing your processes and looking for opportunities for improvement, please make an appointment to see one of our business advisors for no cost with no catches! Book now!