Three Business Systems You Need Right Now
There are lots of posts and articles out there titled the "top things to do before starting a business" and "checklist for starting a business"–all which are very insightful when planning your business.
Today's post is about what you can do *after* you read a post like that.
Once you have a firm plan and the scope of the "why," "who," and "how" (i.e. business plan, target audience, goals, etc.), it's time to move on to the "micro-details" of starting up your business. In marketing terms, you might call this next step "business mapping" where you, just as it says, map out all the little details of how your business will *function*.
MAPPING OUT YOUR EVERYDAY BUSINESS FUNCTIONS
Just like an architect or builder needs a blueprint, a business map can assist with staying on top of your "order of functions" for your business. Depending on the type of business or service you offer, it can begin with the introduction of a product (ex. physical store) or an email inquiry/lead (ex. a potential client visits your website). However your customer finds you or begins the process of purchasing your produce or service, this is what you need to document. From there, the map will trickle down the buying process and will end at the customer purchasing the product or service (and even extend to the "follow-up" of that purchase).
So why should I write all this out?
Besides giving you a clear plan or process to use as a guide, this will help you assess any additional technology or even physical tools you may need for
1) developing your product/service and
2) getting the produce/service to your customer according to your business plan
Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty.
1. THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Every business or consultant needs accounting software right? And a way of invoicing or billing clients (or a POS system for a shop). While you'll obviously need these things at some point (and hey maybe it was the first thing on your mind!), be sure to select your software or application ASAP as it could alter the way you handle things both internally and on the customer's end. Choose an accounting software or app with a mindset that is only for "keeping records for the taxman" is not going to cut it. Be smart! Find an app that is user-friendly and modern. If you have a handful of employees and need a little extra assistance with payroll or multiple accounts, do some research and go with what fits with you.
ON THE BLOG: How to Get Started With an Invoicing System
2. THE ONLINE CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A website–especially one with cloud-based storage and the ability to update it quickly.
You should already have obtained (or planning to) a domain name. This will help you setup an email system, social media accounts, apps, and lots of other things. It does not matter if you sell handmade mittens at the seasonal craft fair–have a landing page for customers to find you digitally. Even having an updated Facebook page is better than having nothing at all.
>> If you don't believe that people are looking for you online, even if you're a tiny operation in the middle of the no-where land, think again! With the rise of the Millennial population (my generation), we're almost exclusively using our phones to look-up local places of business.<<
3. THE CLIENT / PROJECT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Now this is a big one, especially for service-based businesses and professionals. The ability to have a tool that can oversee and manage a project or your client pool is a God-sent. If this is a new concept for you, lean on in, I've got some exciting news! There are applications out there, free even, that will allow you to communicate, organize, and timeline a client project down to the T. Need a place to store files, emails, and notes? Check! How about messaging a client without being on your email. Check!What about automatically reminding both yourself and a client that a task is due. Checkmate!
Yes, it's all possible with a little bit of planning toward your business map. Since these apps are so "smart" it's easy to get wrapped up in all the customization features and integration. Or maybe this is new to you and bringing your client process to a digital realm is, yeah, kinda scary.
Again, keep the end product in mind. Make it easy for yourself and your customers to get tasks done and communication in the clear.
Asana is a great project management tool to start with. It may not be the exact tool for you but since it's FREE you can easily begin to play around with the features and get a sense of what you might need to build your management systems. Asana has this as a built-in feature, but having a way of exchanging information with clients or customers without email is a game-changer. Apps like Slack have altered the way "in-house" communication systems are viewed and accessed.
How does a management tool assist with my business map? Think in terms of communication. How will customers interact with you online? Perhaps you work home but would like to be able to be in contact with a client or teammate in a more organized but consistent manner. A simple check-in message of "Hey, I'm working on your [insesrt project here]" will go a long way with a co-worker or client. On a final note, incorporating these ideas into a business map can help you continue to strategize and plan the rest of your process.
Do you need help mapping-out your business systems?
Hiring an as-needed virtual assistant (VA) or a on-site business assistant can help you brainstorm and implement systems for your business. If you need some business tech direction, don't hesitate to get in touch!