Launching and running a small to medium size business can be a daunting process, especially if it’s something that you are brand new to. There are so many things that you need to think of. If you have invested in employees already, then that adds things to your list straight away. Of course, there is the obvious things such as payroll, human resources procedures etc that you need to sort – but there is also the additional task of managing their workflow and ensuring that all processes and procedures are running as they should be.
There are lots of ways to ensure you have the best practices in place to make for a well-oiled machine. We thought we’d give you some hints and tips below as to how you could run your SME more smoothly.
Outline Employee Expectations from the Beginning
As well as going over employee contracts, it is always good practice to have an employee handbook at the ready when a new employee joins your team. This will outline some of your expectations in terms of following certain policies and procedures within the company. It also opens up discussion between you and the employee – and gives them a chance to ask you any questions they may have that they may not have otherwise. You can outline your core values and mission as a company, as well as give an insight to your company culture. It also gives you an element of legal protection that you would need as a small business starting up. You can find great employee handbook templates here. Make sure these are in place when employing any new staff members.
Manage Cashflow Correctly Straight Away
Keeping invoices and accounts can definitely be a bit of a pain especially if it’s not something that you are used to. There are lots of great online software programs that you can use that will make these tasks a little easier for you. With Xero for example, you can create invoices very easily, get them sent out to clients – and even use extra features such as have it send out automatic reminders if clients are late for payment, so you don’t need to do the work. It also will give you charts where you can see the incomings versus the outgoings every month – and pull reports such as profit and loss. It even gives you data on the average time it takes someone to pay a bill, this will let you know straight away if there are any issues with outstanding debtors. Xero isn’t the only system you can use there is Quickbooks, Sage and others depending on the size and requirements of your business. A lot of them are also free, so you won’t incur an additional business expense.
Use Project Management Software
In order to make sure you have a process that works well for your company, it can be a good idea to make sure you have some kind of visualisation tool to ensure that you can spot any bottlenecks quickly and react effectively. Kanban boards are a great way to do this. You can use this as a personal option or use it as part of a team to ensure they are working together effectively. You can create Kanban boards that will outline each stage of the process for you. The visualisation process makes it very simple for you to spot if there are any flaws in the system. For example, if there is a lot more going in one section than there is going out – this will be identified much more quickly. The key to Kanban boards is that you should refine them, so they are on a granular level. This allows you to dig deeper into any issues. You can find some great Kanban board examples that will give you an idea as to how to use this tool effectively and to show how well it can be done.
Create your Own Company Culture
We mentioned company culture before, this is incredibly important to businesses for several reasons. First of all, you are more likely to retain your staff if you create an environment that they want to be part of or feel involved in. People spend a lot of time at work, it’s important they feel comfortable to make them want to stay. Another reason is that research shows that millennials are more likely to purchase from a business that has its own identity and culture and can express those effectively. Core values are becoming increasingly important when it comes to their decision-making process when it comes to purchasing a product or taking up a service. It’s also a good idea for your culture to shine through in any marketing communications. People don’t just buy products, they buy into people. If you get a new employee, or someone gets promoted – make sure you spread the word across social media and other marketing channels to display your company personality.
Learn How to Network
Attending a networking event and gaining a circle of reliable contacts is a great way to help run your business. You will often find people that can be crucial to making your business run more smoothly. There are normally professionals such as accountant, lawyers, and other people in industries that can offer core components to helping you grow your business and manage it effectively. It’s also handy to have a wide contact sphere to push your product and service to of course. As well as this, you can learn new skills in terms of communicating your message effectively and presenting.
Create the Right IT Infrastructure
IT is essential in terms of productivity in a company. If it runs slow, it can slow processes down as well as the overall work completed which will have a knock-on effect. Even if you don’t want to invest in brand new equipment for everyone – you can get some great refurbished computer equipment that can be more cost-effective. You might want to consider integrating systems such as Office 365 which will allow you to share files, emails and applications with ease. It’s also a good idea to make sure there is some kind of management system in place in terms of safety and security. You don’t want to lose any important data – that could be incredibly problematic in terms of losing time to recreate it, and any other issues that would arise with this. It doesn’t need to be too expensive to outsource this to a professional to at least see if you have the correct basics in place.
If you do have a small to medium sized business, then you can use some of these valuable tips to make it run more smoothly. Grow your network, and put the correct processes in place for optimum performance and productivity.