Processes? This might sound like something that only enterprise businesses need to worry about. But that’s simply no longer true. As a small business owner, if you do not establish organized business systems and processes, your venture is likely to fail early on.
If your employees are not clear on what is expected of them, they may make costly mistakes. In fact, studies show that workflow inefficiencies can cost up to 30% of a business’s revenue. And as well as staffing, processes can help improve your sales pipeline, your profitability, your web projects — pretty much everything.
Without solid processes, you will never know which areas of your business model are inefficient, and how they can be improved.
Processes need to rule every stage of your small business venture. Here are some great ways to get started on processes when you’re pushed for time.
Visual Mapping Sets Your Standard Practices
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Jack Welch
Life is a journey from point A to point B. Some people enjoy taking the scenic route and seeing where they end up. But if you’re a business owner with a team, you have other people tagging along with you for the ride. Therefore, you need to make sure that you set a clear roadmap that everyone can follow to success.
Visually outlining every stage of your business operations in a map diagram will help you create a coherent process journey to benefit all parties involved. You might unearth the need for processes you weren’t even previously aware of!
If you run an e-commerce brand, the rudimentary steps leading to a new product launch might look like this:
- New product consultation & research
- New product development & design
- Concept approved by the project manager
- The manufacturer sends back a sample product
- Product approved by the project manager
- Project manager uploads product to the e-commerce site
- Customer places an order
- Order Management System processes the payment and sends order details to the Warehouse Management System
- Product is packaged according to instructions
- Package sent to the delivery bay for final quality checks
- The package is delivered to the customer’s door
- The feedback loop is launched
Upon closer inspection of any basic task list, you will probably spot multiple secondary tasks and stages that need to run alongside your primary objectives. For instance, you may find that post customer order, you need a process to cover the adjoining customer service tasks.
On the surface of things, long lists of processes can seem like an overwhelming amount of things to check on constantly. Planning your processes visually, with lists and mind-mapping, will help you plan the logical next step, picking out automation tools and shortcuts to help you along the way. For more on creating processing steps with Pipefy, check out this comprehensive guide.
Without automation, your staff will spend hours of their working week manually inputting data. They may also make mistakes on a frequent basis. Take a look at this post for more ways to save time and money with automation.
Cloud Sharing Saves Time & Improves Security
“It seems everyone is converging on a simple set of facts: Our lives are digital, and we wish to share our lives.” – John Battelle
File sharing amongst employees is a crucial area to get right as a small business owner. You need a secure and reliable file sharing platform to protect your information assets. Coming up with a process for file and content sharing will help you better protect business and customer data.
Google Docs is a free tool that can help your virtual assistants and employees keep on top of their duties. It’s a great platform for sharing training materials like videos and courses, as well as managing your content production efforts.
Think about how cloud documents can help you cut down on expensive man-hours during training and implementation phases. Not to mention making your life easier when it comes to document editing and version control.
Instant Communication Boosts Collaboration
“Collaboration is the best way to work. It’s the only way to work, really. Everyone’s there because they have a set of skills to offer across the board.” – Antony Starr
Why limit yourself to only working directly with the people in your office?
Setting up message boards is a great way to create collaborative workspaces with employees all over the world. Again, you need a process to ensure that the collaboration is productive and follows community guidelines. Experiment with different tools and systems until you find one that fits your business model (and integrates with your existing ecosystem of apps and software).
Project management tools use notification and scheduling features to keep all team members on track. These services can be synced to your Pipefy and other processing tools to update and notify all parties as needed.
You can also use team instant messenger services to send off notes and feedback automatically. Saved template messages can be triggered at every stage of the Pipefy workflow sequence — centralized project management tools can shave hours off everyone’s working day.
Suppliers Benefit From Your Efficiency
“Whether you lead a nation, an enterprise, a community, or a family, we are all in the communication business.” – Robin S. Sharma
Small businesses need to communicate effectively with their suppliers. In the process of establishing strong business ties with other brands, you will need a standardized mode of communication.
This can be greatly improved by the use of technologies and tools.
For example, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) play an integral role in e-commerce operations. WMS integrations allow you to do things like automatically notify an employee when a customer makes a purchase. If you are using a third-party dropship supplier, the employee can then place the order with the warehouse using the correct order customization data. Ultimately, WMS considerations help satisfy your customers’ need for fast and high-quality service.
Boost your brand credibility and equity by effectively managing external relationships.
Marketing Automation Helps You Keep Up With Trends
“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to the community.” – Simon Mainwaring
You need solid processes in order to make the most of marketing automation. With an initial framework in place, staff and associates will have the confidence to implement a marketing strategy that looks and feels like your brand.
Create brand guidelines and marketing processes that all stakeholders can follow and implement.
Social media will probably be a big sales and customer channel for your small business. Depending on the content management system you are using, you can access a plethora of social media marketing applications to help you with your small business marketing tasks. Tools for social media management will help you manage multiple social media accounts from one dashboard. You can also find tools on these platforms that recommend optimal times of day for posting to help you optimize your marketing spend.
Additionally, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights data can be synced with your CRM system and CMS, helping you regulate ad and PPC spend.
Customers Demand Faster Service
“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos
Processes will help you manage customers better.
You can use automated chatbots to streamline many customer service tasks. For instance, programmed bots can advise on things like shipping times and order customizations. With customer service automation tools, you can also monitor and filter out vital consumer feedback.
Part of being a successful business involves listening to customer feedback and making improvements. Set up a process to flag customer reviews requiring urgent attention. Providing a prompt replies process requires instant notification across multiple platforms. Ensure your staff process the comments in real-time with the aid of automated tools and bots.
Having processes helps everyone — your team, your customers, your suppliers. Investing in the right automated tools today will help you maintain a steady stream of working capital. As a small business owner, make sure you make every second of working time count!
Start using processes to run your small business
Use process management to increase your efficiency and profitability.