04/08/2014

By Ricardo Parreira, CEO, PHC FX


Starting a new business can be the most exciting time of your life. But it can also be one of the toughest.

Lack of time, resources and capital can quickly emerge as roadblocks entrepreneurs did not see coming.

Many mentors will say getting the right team in place is the most critical step any business founder can take. In the same way, I believe implementing the right tools is critical. But what exactly are the right solutions to deploy?

Analytics

Knowledge is power. But you would be amazed how many business owners turn up to work every day, blithely unaware of their company’s fundamentals.

What is your profit this week? How many orders were accepted today? All of this and more affects business performance - but none of this information can be leveraged without first recording it.

Business analytics is about converting vague questions like “Why do people cancel?” in to specific interrogations that can improve your business with data.

If any of that sounds like science, well, the good news is, most business questions can be answered with simple arithmetic, conducted by a computer. Your biggest responsibility is simply to feed the machine with basic data.

Take stock

Did you just run of widgets? Without a stock control officer running constant checks, it is always a risk - but who can afford that?

Don’t risk embarrassment when a customer orders something you don’t have in-store. Practise effective stock control using a proper management tool to record new stock purchases and to log each time a sale deducts items.

Treat good stock control like liquid hand soap - always use it, whether you think or need it or not.

Integrated project management

The most expensive customer relationship management (CRM) system in the world is useless if it doesn’t let all of your team members, not just you, see what is going on.

The software you choose must update colleagues’ calendars when appointments are added. Before that, it should simplify appointment planning by showing mutually available hours - something which often persists as the bane of otherwise advanced modern systems.

If you can book appointments and it shows up on their calendars. Manage everyone’s calendar and adjust the time to when everyone is available.

Go paperless

In the City of London, average office costs come in at £84 per square metre per year. At that price, it no longer pays to keep filing cabinets on staff.

Online document management is not only cheaper than physical storage - it is more efficient. Nowadays, e-mail and electronic signatures make distribution and even contract agreements a breeze.

Printers and their ink dependencies have a habit of sucking further capital resources. Instead of throwing money down the drain, go digital to improve your business processes and cut down on environmental destruction.