Want A Better Business? Start WIth What’s Broken
When meeting new clients, there’s one question I hear over and over: “How can I take my business to the next level?” Some even ask if there is some kind of checklist or template they can use to create a better business.
Whilst there is no universal set of tactics that are suited for every business, there are a few things that every business needs to have right away:
A bank account solely for your business;
A way to track income and expenses;
A dedicated place to work, etc.
Then, I recommend that each business owner make their own checklist of “best next steps for a better business” and set off to tackle them one by one.
Business blogs and magazines tend to focus on tools and tactics that are intended to grow and improve operations or profitability.
However, I recommend you start by considering the problem areas first (and be honest about what it will take to fix them). I know this may seem a bit backwards, but in my experience, until you fix the “mess”, you’re spending time and money in the wrong place.
Problems Slow You Down
As your business grows, your mess will grow right along with it, unless you fix it. If it continues, you’ll find yourself drowning in new work and unable to do the best job you can, since you’ll be beyond the point where ad hoc fixes and systems are able to support you.
Here are some examples of mess that escalates as your business grows:
1. Your email inbox. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your inbox now, think about what happens when you reach your dream and your business doubles or triples in size. The volume of emails will double or triple too.
So take the time (while you can) and figure out a system to manage your inbox now.
2. Your contact list. You have business cards piled all over your desk, a Gmail account, a business email address, and a ton of LinkedIn and Facebook contacts. Right now, you can kind of, sort of, remember where to go to find a given contact.
But as you grow, particularly if you add new information, it will be too much to keep in your head. When you want to announce a new website, promote a webinar, or even just send a Christmas card, it will be a huge chore.
The solution is to keep all of your contacts in one place. Choose a CRM and add everyone, once and for all. Create a system to keep it up to date.
3. Your finances. Whether you offer a service or a product, it’s important to know whether or not you’re making money. When a business is just starting out, you might have more time than money and not be too worried about profitability.
But here too, as you get busier, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not losing money on some (or all?) of your efforts. So, either take the time to figure this out, or find yourself a capable financial resource who can come in and sort things out for you.
Messes are as individual as the people who make them – but they’re all fixable. Make a list of all of your messes and prioritise them according to how much time (and money) they are wasting and how much they’re holding you back in creating a better business.
Then, either hire someone to help you handle them, or make a list of actionable steps to get them under control. Get rid of them one by one so you can be bigger, more efficient, work less and make more money (yay)!