Everything you do as a small business owner originates from your experiences starting the business. The shortcuts and sacrifices you had to make in order to pay the bills have unfortunate longer term side effects. They have inadvertently slowed down your business growth. Because of these shortcuts and sacrifices, the leap from a startup to small or medium size business is all but impossible for many. Why?
Simply put – the business lacks the infrastructure required to grow.
Infrastructure in a business serves the same function as it does in a city or building. The infrastructure allows for the transfer of data from one functional area of the company to the other. Without it, this exchange of data (or work) from one function (like sales) to another function (like fulfillment) is error prone, time consuming, and all around messy.
The infrastructure of your business consists of processes. Processes control how a business delivers a product or service. Such processes, when built well, define a specific operation done by a team in your company. Processes can be used to define jobs inside a company as well.
Building this infrastructure is the first step in allowing your business to grow. Automating as much as possible is the second step. Business process automation leverages the power of technology to eliminate repetitive tasks or wasteful steps in your company.
Most every business that uses accounting software can attest to the value of technology (when it works – be sure to backup regularly). The alternative to accounting software is: hiring people to do the work of the software. This is lame, expensive, and unproductive. Hiring is good – wasteful hiring, not so much.
In the same way, there are many functions in your business that can be automated using software but not until you take the time to document your current processes. This informs the decisions you will make when choosing how to automate.
Like any infrastructure, spending time building it correctly is an investment. If you are looking to grow your business past the solo-preneur stage, it is a necessary one. Find a coach or consultant who can help you navigate this transition in addition to doing it yourself. Be sure to build your understanding of how your business infrastructure works because, more than almost anything else , it is the very heart of your business.