Streamlining your business

How to make the most out of these 6 business processes

Starting a business is not easy but with the right business plans and processes in place, you will be better prepared to increase your chances of success. 

Here, we outline the top six business processes you need to run an effective operation and tools to help you manage them more efficiently.

1. Planning

Most businesses start with an idea, but in order to succeed you also need a plan. The good news is that effective planning doesn’t have to be complicated. A basic business plan or strategy can be as simple as writing down:

  • what you are looking to sell
  • who you want to sell it to
  • what your goals are
  • what you plan to do to meet them
  • the resources you need.

When planning, it’s a good idea to keep a record, for example, on a spreadsheet. Applications, such as Excel or Google Sheets are quite cost-effective and useful. But there are also tools such as Trello or LivePlan which can streamline this process by helping to monitor progress across your projects.

2. Budgeting

While some of the best businesses may have started out of passion, profitability is the reason they managed to stay in business long term – and the ability to budget is an elementary part of that. It helps to determine how much you may be able to spend on things such as inventory, wages, infrastructure, marketing and other necessary business expenses without hurting your profit margin.

To take the hassle out of building complex budgeting spreadsheets, Google is offering a number of free budgeting templates for business purposes. You can also take it one step further by engaging applications such as PlanGuru. These allow you to create budgets, track your expenses and determine your profit or loss each month, which can help you create more accurate financial forecasts for your business and optimise your business strategy accordingly.

3. Sales

In addition to budgeting, it pays to maintain a sales forecast. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find a number of useful (and free) templates around the web. This will help you predict future sales and, therefore, income by comparing existing data you already have. For example, through a week-on-week, month-on-month, or even year-on-year comparison.

As you build up a bigger picture, it becomes easier to look back and identify things such as the most profitable areas in your business, why they are doing well and where you should potentially invest moving forward.

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4. Marketing

With over a third of customers researching brands' social media before making a purchase, investing in your online presence is usually a good starting point when it comes to marketing. This allows people to familiarise themselves with your business before making a purchase ­– even if you can’t offer online purchases yet.

A website is just one of many marketing tools you can use to reach your target group. However, finding, acquiring and keeping customers is usually easier once you understand why people buy what you sell. Research tools such as SurveyMonkey can help you gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ mindset and journey to purchase. This can help you decide where to best invest your time, effort and marketing budget.

Once you have a better idea of where and how your customers prefer to engage with your brand, there are applications such as HubSpot, Mailchimp and Sender to help you get your message across with scheduling services, drag-and-drop email templates and performance tracking.

5. MANAGING STOCK, INCOME AND EXPENSES

As your business enters growth mode, you may soon outgrow simple spreadsheets, so investing in finance and/or accounting software such as MYOBReckonXero or Quickbooks can help you keep track of incomings and outgoings more efficiently. You can also use most of these software packages to issue customer invoices, track payment and send invoice reminders to help you get paid faster.

Accounting software can also help keep the Australian Tax Office (ATO) happy by making it easier to submit your business activity statements (BAS), tax returns and even pay superannuation.

For invoicing, you could also use your accounting software to keep track of taking payments – especially if it synchronises with your business bank account. Alternatively, you could take advantage of payment providers such as PaypalSquare or FastPay.

Some, such as Xero or Odoo inventory management, also allow you to keep track of any stock or inventory you keep.

6. PAYROLL

Last but not least – and possibly one of the most important business processes ­– is managing your payroll reliably and efficiently which, especially in startup mode, can be challenging. As you grow, software such as EmploymentHero or Personio can help you streamline this part of your business by taking care of any human resourcing needs, payroll, and people online.

Running a business takes more than simply executing business processes well. It’s about taking ownership of an idea, the people, the goods and the processes that you need to manage every single day to make money and, possibly, even make a difference. And chances are, there’s always room to create efficiencies to help you do so more successfully.

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