Signs it’s time to upgrade systems
Most small business owners can’t afford to think small. They always need to keep their mind on growth strategies to help them achieve long-term profitability.
But becoming profitable in the first place often requires business owners to work long hours on a shoe-string budget. They don’t always have time to implement systems that will support them when they’re ready to scale. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to use free or low-cost software solutions that can get them up and operational but hold them back as their needs evolve.
Read on to learn if it’s time to upgrade your current systems to support your small business as it grows – and what to look for.
1. A growth spurt
If you’ve noticed, month after month, your profits are continually increasing, it’s likely time your business takes steps to increase capacity.
Beyond financial growth indicators, at this stage, you may have already noticed a need for change. You may have experienced:
- A spike in the number of buying customers, which has put stress on your current systems, resulting in service delays
- Internal bottlenecks which have negatively impacted productivity or
- Poor cash flow because you’ve fallen behind with outdated systems for creating invoices, billing customers and collecting.
If you’ve experienced any of these issues, it may be time to look at hiring more staff, implementing new systems – or both.
2. Increased errors
Too many mistakes may be the direct result of capacity issues from sudden increased growth – or an indication your systems weren’t the right fit in the first place.
Errors are a serious problem for any small business and pose a big risk to the long-term sustainability of the company. A small business that frustrates its customers by losing orders or filling them incorrectly or fail to maintain adequate inventory can quickly find itself closing its doors.
If you notice consistent mistakes in one or more areas of your business, looking at your systems is a good place to start. Then you can make appropriate upgrades to eliminate frustrating and costly errors and increase overall efficiency.
3. Tips for implementing new systems
Change can be challenging for businesses, but without change, a company can’t reach its growth potential.
The key is to stagger big changes over time and, whenever possible, overlap implementation of new systems to minimise service disruptions.
Follow these tips when it’s time to upgrade your business systems:
- Review your future plans for your business. Where do you hope to be in a year or two? How will you get there? Getting clear on what your business needs in the short and long term will help you decide on the right financial management, inventory, internal communications and customer relations management systems.
- Shop around for simple to use all-in-one solutions that can handle more than one need – for instance, your online accounting system may also offer inventory management. Take care to choose systems that integrate easily with each other and offer timely support to maximise efficiency wherever possible. In this world of business management apps overwhelm this decision alone can make or break your small business.
- Share plans to implement new systems early with your employees. Together discuss the problems a new system will solve so staff are eager to embrace the change – and learn how to make the most of any new system.
- Ensure that you have a documented plan, adequate training, great support from advisors and mentors and communicate the change in a positive way to all key stakeholders.
- Test quickly, review and adapt as necessary.
- Check out our post on Lean Canvas it could help you to brainstorm your problems and then document and communicate the strategy in an easy to digest one-page format.