Top ten Challenges – Processes. Do you have processes and procedures to monitor every aspect of your business? Are your staff following these procedures?
Louisa started with SmartPA in November 2016 and provides a wide range of admin support to me, and a variety of other clients.
Processes – Do you have processes and procedures to monitor every aspect of your business? Are your staff following these procedures?
“It’s just me in this business. I don’t need any ‘processes’ I just want a bit of help with my admin” was the declaration of one my early clients.
I think their idea of a ‘process’ was something long-winded, cumbersome – the opposite of the agile, innovative approach he wanted to take as an entrepreneur. He wasn’t interested in the ‘detail’, he had a big ‘vision’. Of course that’s what you need to make a good business – a passion and a vision – but when you’re a small business, perhaps owner managed and run, or just with one or two staff some process can still save a LOT of time.
After a chat about what was taking up their time and not making money it became clear that some basic standard processes would really help.
One of the top time wasters in business is failing to automating processes that are repeated many many times…
From gathering the right information from the client to get that core service offering set up – to keeping track of invoicing and money you are owed!
I saw stats recently from the Federation of Small Business (FSB) stating that the UK economy would be boosted by £2.5 billion if small businesses were actually paid when payment was due!
Intuit, owner of QuickBooks says the average self employed business owner spends 15 working days a year on bookkeeping and going back to that early client I mention above, he had actually set up an account for a very similar package but he hadn’t realised he could have an app, and just use that to upload receipts and keep track of mileage.
With the client I mentioned earlier, I spent some time looking at what tasks were repeatedly taking up lots of his time – and also what was niggling him…
Turned out he was very annoyed that he was doing a lot of meetings with potential clients and of course not all of those worked out – (but he felt particularly aggrieved that he was forgetting to record his expenses properly and so was paying more tax than he should be!) – easily solved with lots of the accounting tools and apps!
Thinking through the type of customer queries he was dealing with I was able to agree a few templates to use for gathering data, sending responses and progressing work processes:
- Time saved = more opportunity for revenue generation
- A more consistent approach to various aspects of the service being delivered and there had even been some positive noises from one of his most ‘challenging’ clients…
Business processes often develop and evolve
If you are the owner/manager (and main/only employee) doing them, even if you have a process you probably don’t have it written down do you?
(at least not all the stages so that someone could come to it cold and know what to do?)
It’s interesting, because even the act of writing out a process you know well can show you where you’re not making the timesaving or taking the best approach to it – even that standard email you might use to gather some initial information often means inputting the data into a Content Management System (CMS) or other form/document. There are free/low cost survey and form software/apps which can gather the information for you and feed it straight into your systems.
Also, understanding your processes can show you what aspects of it don’t need to be done by you (so can be outsourced, or even may not need to be done at all).
When you take on staff to provide any sort of help to your business having a process for them to follow increases the speed at which they can reduce your workload – and I am a fan of the checklist as way to know when a process is followed or fails (if it’s good enough for pilots carrying you in a bit of thin tin for thousands of miles then certainly good enough for me!)
I am a massive fan of systemisation. If you develop an email enclosing a document to a client, why would you not turn it into a template and use it time and time again?
The time spent NOT reinventing the wheel can be so much better spent doing things that earn money – or even doing nothing at all! A nice five minutes to put your feet up rather than the headless chicken impersonations. What’s not to like there…
If you are spending your time doing things you (i) aren’t good at and (ii) could easily be done by someone who is just think for a while (if you can spare the time) why you are doing it.
You can contact Louisa on her email email@example.com , or another virtual assistant – there are loads out there – and get back to doing the things you ought to be doing
If you have any comments on this post please post them in the comments section below – or chat to us on social media
Other posts in this series are available here – and to be notified of new articles please subscribe using the form, below: