Compared to their larger competitors, start-ups have relatively simple day-to-day operations – they have fewer employees, usually one location and a simple business model. Naturally as a company expands and grows from micro to small, its business operations become more complex which could result in the company becoming less efficient and subsequently less profitable.
It isn’t easy to simplify business operations when you are juggling multiple activities. In fact, we’ve all seen businesses that have seemingly complicated ways of working as it can actually be easier in the short term for businesses to make things more complex than to step back and streamline operations.
Introducing technology can really support a company’s growth when used correctly but the wrong solutions can also add complexity. Therefore, the following five tips should be considered when choosing technology to help simplify operations:
- A fully integrated front office technology solution:
A single technology solution that helps to manage multiple aspects of your business such as an e-commerce website, CRM, marketing, sales, order management, inventory, and customer service can lighten the load and make it simpler for you to get a complete picture of your business and understand and adapt how you are running your daily activities. This is a more efficient and cost effective way to run your business.
- Analyse and simplify
Consider a software solution with inbuilt analytics so you can get a robust analysis of the different parts of the business. This will significantly cut down on the time you need to spend finding and understanding the data on how your business is doing, and is often produced in really user-friendly formats to make it easier to digest.
- Automate processes
Many business processes can be automated to reduce your workload and so you can focus on what is important. When shipping a product to a customer, for example, you can automate almost everything, from printing shipping labels, calculating shipping rates and delivery times, to sending track package notifications. This can also be integrated into business software solutions so you have even less to worry about.
- Add a self-service element for customers
Not every customer question has to be answered by a member of your team. Simple solutions, such as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the website, can be enormously helpful. Taken a step further, when the customer has a query or needs support, the right technology can help them create their own service tickets and track them in their personal account, in the online store or by email. This gives customers a much better, 24 hour, customer experience, and you a more effective way to track what your customers are saying about your business or products.
- Don’t go it alone
Small business owners are experts in what they do, but can’t be expected to be experts in every single area of owning a company – that’s why most small businesses source outside lawyers and accountants to help them make these decisions. Equally, when it comes to technology, make sure that you have the right ongoing support for your business, so should you need it, you can very quickly find the right solutions.
Simplifying a business is an ongoing challenge. Having a simplifying mindset from the start and technology tools that lighten the load can help make running a business more manageable and will hopefully get you closer to achieving your goals. Good luck!
By Toby Davidson, VP SMB Solutions Group, SAP Anywhere