We’ve entered Q3. Our New Year’s resolutions are long-forgotten and the year-end buzz is still too far off to feel. If you need a plunge into the deep pool of refreshed motivation then get your bathing suits ready, because we’re about to jump in.
All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
The expression, ‘Time is flying’ is, arguably, commonplace, particularly amongst entrepreneurs and business owners. We’ve already entered quarter three of 2016 and for some it may feel like the year’s just started. Others, however, may be feeling the pressure of an already busy year so far.
If you’re part of the latter, here are three ways to rise above the trap of ‘busy work’ and work smarter going forward:
1. Panic less, you’re post start-up
There’s a special brand of adrenaline that comes with the chaotic frenzy synonymous with a start-up. This creative energy is necessary for a business to be birthed out of nothing but a good idea, and to take its first gasping breaths. However, 10 years down the line, if you’re still relying on ‘grit, spit and adrenaline’ to run your business instead of sound processes and systems, your creative energy has turned toxic.
Instead of hoping for growth, you can bank on burnout, high staff turnover, panicked clients, and a quarterly ulcer flare-up. You need to take a breath, and consider the possibility that there might be a better way to do this. Consider this:
- Meet with a mentor or business coach.
- Network with other business owners and see how they approach challenges.
- Get the team together and brainstorm better ways to operate.
Related: How to keep your business afloat despite the current economic landscape
2. Focus on people and processes
- Process thinking: To set the team up for success they need to know what is expected of them, and have the tools and training to do it efficiently. Processes are the guidelines that take the team through the steps needed to produce a desired outcome - be it systems-, product- or admin-related. Take the time to think through the steps of your business cycles, and map out your processes.
- Consistency: The repetitive nature of packaging products means your clients expect consistency in the product you produce. If you are not consistent, you stand the risk of lower profits, or ultimately losing the contract. In order to have consistency of outcome you need to manage the input and the control of the processes. Manage the input and you have a consistent product and a predictable outcome. Do this through regular staff one-on-ones, performance appraisals, process training and spot checks. More importantly, incorporate innovate ways to reward your team to affirm correct behaviour.
- Standardise: Reduce human error and confusion by standardising processes. If everything is standardised, it is easily repeatable.
- Measure: In order to know if your team is, in fact, following procedure and producing consistent products, you need systems in place to measure efficiency. How efficient are your machines? How productive are your teams?
3. Stick with what works, change the rest
Business strategy always wins. The temptation with implementing MIS and ERP systems is to install them out of the box without customising it to meet your specific business needs.
To get more output from your business you need to improve the speed of material and information, and this is dramatically improved by MIS/ERP software.
Related: 8 Free resources for setting up business processes and systems
The trick is to know what information you need:
- Customisable: Make sure the MIS/ERP you purchase can be customised to meet your business needs. Identify what information you need in order to run your business processes optimally, and then request that from your supplier. Make sure your software covers every aspect of your business cycles: Leads, estimates, orders, operations, inventory management, staff management, time tracking, invoicing and reporting.
- Affordability and Integration: There are many ERP and MIS packages available for businesses, however most come with a hefty price tag, are somewhat limited, and after-sales support can be a challenge especially with international products.
In the wise words of an Instagram post I saw recently, ‘For something to change, something has to change.’ Let’s embrace the new season with a fresh approach to our business’s efficiencies, and welcome the new, green growth that it brings. Happy Spring!