People run your systems and systems run your business. This can seem one of the least exciting aspects of being in business but they are essential for ensuring you to survive and thrive.
First of all, your public profile. Potential clients often check out a business owner’s background before dealing with them and you are the face of your business. A Wikipedia entry written by a third party is a useful asset helping people to get to know you and start to build a rapport. Along with regular blog posting it also supports your search engine ranking – search engine algorithms favour current material.
Your business website is your shopfront, it must be attractive, fast and reliable. Getting a third party check of its usability offers you valuable insights into your site’s strengths and weaknesses of your customer facing persona.
Pay-per-click programs, social media posts and high-visiblity blogs have the same effect as cold calling, networking and events in the physical world. Businesses miss out on a substantial number of orders if they don’t follow up on all the leads they obtain. Your lead capture system feeds into your sales funnel and customer relations management systems.
There are some systems worth outsourcing to experts, in the long run it will save you time, money and costly mistakes. Keeping track of your accounts is vital and businesses fail if their cash-flow goes out of control. Employ a book-keeper to track your income and outgoings. As much as possible plan a replacement cycle for your IT hardware and consumables. Likewise, most businesses need an eCommerce system to sell their products and services online. It is difficult for a non-specialist to achieve an acceptable level of security and a breach or data loss can be very expensive.
The need to back up your data cannot be over-emphasised. Your database, accounts and intellectual property are irreplaceable. A few pounds for a USB drive or £50 for an external hard drive is a small price to pay considering that it may cost you up to £1000 for data recovery. As a rule store your data in 2 safe places, a double drive network accessed storage along with an independent off-site back-up system. Consult an IT expert for advice on the best system for you.
Your office filing system is probably the most important of all, poor document filing can cause more wasted time that almost anything else. A good, well organised filing cabinet continues to be a vital piece of equipment in spite of the hype about the paperless office.
Outsource, delegate and sub-contract as much as possible, so you can focus on the highest value tasks. Create an operations manual so your new staff can learn from the more experienced members of your team. Define robust, clear guidelines for everyone working for you, and check work before it reaches your clients. Remember, it is your reputation on the line.