Every business needs a system
A business without a system is like a car without wheels. Whether you are a one man band, employ 50 people or are somewhere in between, every business needs a system and that means Marketing and Sales, Operations, Finance and Human Resources.
It is these key divisions that are crucial to running any successful business. In fact, not only will putting these systems in place make your business more profitable, it will also streamline your operations and free up much of your valuable time. Imagine being able to take a holiday that lasts longer than a weekend! Well that’s what will do it for you – The System.
So, let’s get back to the size of your business. You may currently be operating under a ‘take it as it comes’ attitude, thinking you are too small to worry about each of these five key areas. Wrong! Having a tight, foolproof system in place not only makes easier on you, it makes for a smooth transition for someone taking over your management role; either temporarily or permanently.
By ticking all the boxes and checking all of the key issues, having someone step into your shoes while you take a break or get on with your next venture, will become elementary.
Next question! How do you get sytemised? Here is a model that breaks each of the key areas down into layman’s terms. By taking this advice on board, you will be well on the way to understanding your ideal system and how to create it.
Marketing and Sales
Practical and effective marketing is the most important system in any business. In a nutshell, these seven steps will go a long way towards getting your marketing system in place.
1. Strategy – plan what you are going to do, who you are going to do it to and how you are going to do it. That sounds basic but put simply, it is that basic. Knowing your target audience, understanding them and understanding why they would want to buy your product is a major step towards getting it right. When you understand your target audience you will know where they shop, where they recreate and why they buy what they buy. From there you can plan the best delivery of your marketing strategy.
2. The Hook – how are you going to attract your target audience? Consider your options, from local papers to local TV and radio to letterbox delivery to promotions to in-store advertising. Maybe your audience is wider spread and you want to look at social media marketing and website advertising. No matter where you are going to put your advertising make sure the idea is right. Is what you are offering your customers enough to interest them? Is the price right? Are you competitive enough? Are you different enough? Do you look enticing? The ‘meat’ you put out there is critical to attracting as many potential purchasers as possible.
3. Reinforce – customers like to be reminded. You are not the only thing on your customers’ minds. Once you have nailed steps 1 and 2, make sure you keep your message out there. Design a practical and affordable marketing calendar. Constant reminders and reinforcement will not only keep you top of mind with potential customers, it will build your brand and reputation, putting you in the league of recognised and reputable businesses.
4. SEO and Web – we all need it. No matter what sort of business you are in, these days we all need an active web presence. Make sure yours represents your business with a professional and desirable image – a representation of what you stand for. Do you want customers to order online or do you want to drive traffic to your real door? By planning your strategy as in point 1, you will have the answers to these questions and can brief your web developer accordingly. Designed correctly, you should be able to include a good cross section of photographs and information that will generate substantial orders and enquiries.
Driving people to your website is the next step. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is not as mysterious as it might sound. Matching your keywords to a selection of the most popular search engines is not complicated. Your web developer can easily take care of this or you can learn more about it in Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide online at: http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
5. Conversion – a good marketing strategy will always result in sales. Sales and marketing go hand in hand so make sure that when the leads you generate come into your store or enquire about your product that your sales team is correctly equipped to convert. Do they know all about your marketing strategy and your current activities? Do they have all of the product knowledge they need to convert? Are they correctly trained in the right sales methods to ask for the order and close the sale? Sales and marketing are brother and sister; make sure yours is a tight family unit.
1. Delivery - your Marketing and Sales strategy has delivered you more sales than you can handle. What are you going to do? To make sure you can fulfil your orders to above and beyond your customers’ expectations make sure you can deliver on time and with a smile.
2. Suppliers - to create the efficiencies needed to stay sharp and competitive you need to develop supplier relationships that offer low cost, high quality supply and delivery, a partnership based on more than simple cost reductions.
3. Continuous improvement – always be aware of how your operations system is performing. Look at ways to lower costs and always be across new innovations that may affect the way you produce and deliver your end product.
In setting up a financial management system you need to decide whether you will manage your financial records yourself or whether you will have someone do it for you. There are a number of alternative ways you can handle this. You can manage everything yourself or you can hire an employee who manages it for you and keep your records in-house but has an accountant prepare specialised reporting such as tax returns. You may employ an external bookkeeping service to manage financial transactions and an accountant that handles formal reporting functions.
Some accounting firms also handle bookkeeping functions. Software packages are also available for handling bookkeeping and accounting. The financial management system for a small business includes how you are financing your operations as well as how you are managing the money in the business. Your financial system should include:
• Financial reporting,
• Collecting accounts receivable,
• Risk management, and
Systems run your business, people run your systems, you lead your people.
1. Daily work routines need systems, be it teams or individuals - systemising the routine lets everybody know what’s expected of them and how to fulfil.
2. Encourage individualism and ideas through suggestion boxes and regular meetings. Some employees may need more instruction and help than others.
3. How-to manuals and one-on-one training can be a great way to bring employees up to speed with the system.
4. Put in place KPI’s and conduct regular performance reviews.
Remember to review, update and improve your system regularly. Once you have your business running smoothly you will increase revenue and profitability, free up more leisure time for you and take a lot of the responsibility and day-to-day stress off your shoulders.
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