Tips to Set Up Reliable Systems For Your Small Business

One of the common reasons small businesses fail is the inadequate management of their people, processes and other activities required to achieve the vision of the organization. The effective interplay between these factors is what determines the strength of a business.

Most small business owners venture into their own enterprises because of the need to supplement their income or as a result of being unemployed for too long. Thus, the managerial skills and business acumen required to sustain the business is often missing. Some of these business owners still find themselves working more than they would have done working for an employer while having little to show for it. This is mainly because the business still largely revolves around them rather than on systems and structures necessary to keep the business operational with or without them.

Regardless of being formed as a one-man business (sole proprietorship), partnership, limited liability company or otherwise, it is important to ensure your business is built on systems, not sentiments, in order to move from being just self-employed to having an organization that can outlive you. Other reasons why it is essential to have reliable systems in place include, but not limited to:

  1. It facilitates the smooth running of your business with minimum supervision from you as the founder of the business.
  2. It helps reduce workload and eliminate bottlenecks.
  3. It aids the effective assignment of clear roles and responsibilities within the organization, thereby reducing duplications and conflicts.
  4. It enhances the smooth flow of information from one level of the organization to another.
  5. It makes the automation of your process easier.
  6. It helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation
  7. With reliable systems, you can consistently deliver value and replicate what works effectively.
  8. Operating costs can be reduced and revenue enhanced.
  9. It helps you put in place checks and balances within the organisation, thereby ensuring good corporate governance.

According to business process experts, the business systems most organisations have are the financial management, facilities management, employee management, information management, customer development, product development, supplier development, operations management, service management, improvement management and enterprise management systems. Often, Enterprise Resource Planning software and tools should be adopted to help streamline these processes.

So, how do you get started:

  1. Document the least to the most important activity you engage in to ensure your business is functional.

From developing a product or service to getting customers or clients to purchase same, there are different touchpoints and activities involved in ensuring these processes kick-off and gets completed in due time. Identifying these touchpoints the activities, the people or departments or tools involved and how regular these activities are executed is the first phase of developing your business system. 

  1. Develop a Process Map

Next is to develop a process map which is the visual representation of how work flows from one aspect, level or department of the organization to another. This shows who and what is involved in a business process; while helping to define the input, processing, decision and output stages in order to appropriately assign roles, responsibilities and performance measurement metrics where necessary.

Process maps aid the improvement of communication between the persons involved in executing various assignments while serving as a tool to identify problems and proffer possible solutions. By showing detailed connections and sequences using a process map, everyone gets to clearly see and understand that their work is interrelated and can be affected if one delays or fails to complete his or her tasks in due time.

  1. Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) or work guides

Further to having a process map in place is the need to have standard operating procedures which are step by step guides that describe how activities identified should be performed. They help to document the instructions and steps to be taken to ensure a process is completed appropriately every time.

This documentation also helps ensure that tasks assigned are completed in accordance with your industry’s standards and relevant laws, in order to ensure you are compliant.   

  1. Design templates for almost everything to ensure easy replication.

Beyond having SOPs, templates help to easily replicate the processes that are often repeated within the business. For instance, your proposals and other communication materials should be templated such that you can quickly adapt them to similar organisations within the same sector. With this, you can ensure consistency in your communication and enhance easy brand recall.

  1. Evaluate the system's efficiency & improve on any gaps identified.

In order to ensure the purpose of the system set up is met, it is important to measure the performance of the systems. This helps to ascertain if they are in alignment with the needs of the business. Measuring the performance of your business process also helps to identify gaps and possible solutions to bridge those gaps.

In all, your business process should be simple, easy to adopt and flexible enough to adjust to trends and customers expectations. For instance, if the mode of delivering your services used to be offline, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that offline only is not enough, you will need to incorporate online processes as well. Also, ensure you consult experts where necessary and keep learning about ways to improve your business processes. You should also make an effort to hire competent people because people are the drivers of processes.

Read more about Common Recruitment Mistakes Small Businesses in Nigeria Make & How To Avoid them

Though you may nurse the fear that your ideas will be stolen or duplicated by employees when they exit your business; it is important to note that there will always be something unique about the way you run your business that another person will not be able to replicate easily. Thus, don’t burn yourself out trying to do everything yourself, learn to delegate and trust the process.