How to Organize a Business in 5 Steps
Organizing a business is critical to the success of that business. You can’t expect to produce a product and generate sales, create marketing campaigns or even pay vendors on time, if you’re not organized. Not organized means you or your staff won’t have the support they need to get their jobs done.
Follow these 5 steps to organize your business:
- Establish Objectives for All Employees
- Determine Protocols
- Resource the Right Software
- Implement Time Tracking
- Ask Why
1. Establish Objectives for All Employees
What does establishing objectives have to do with being organized? Plenty. Your team will be confused and ineffective if they don’t fully understand what they are trying to do, if goals are not clearly defined and written down, and milestones not set. As a result, the company’s management will be seen as disorganized.
Let’s give an example.
Sam runs his own soda company, Sam’s Sodas. He supplies these soft drinks to grocery stores in the Seattle area, but wants to expand. He hires a top-notch salesman, Peter, and tasks him with selling his products outside of the Washington state area.
Sam hires Peter and tells him to “run with it”. But run with what, exactly? What are the expectations of Peter other than to expand out of state? Peter doesn’t know. Will Sam be happy with ten new sales, or is he expecting a hundred? And if it is a hundred, can Sam’s production facility handle that? Is there even a transportation system in place to ship out of state? Peter asks Sam these questions, and more, but Sam is so tied up with current commitments, running from crisis to crisis and handling everyday business needs, he hasn’t really given it much thought. Sam says he’ll handle it “when we get there”.
Let’s try this again.
Sam hires Peter and hands him his expanded business plan. In it, Sam has outlined his objective: to expand sales into neighbouring states to the tune of 20% of current product sales, within the next year. 50% within two years. Sam has also outlined how his production team can handle the overflow as long as Peter ensures there’s three weeks lead time with every new sale. Sam has already reached out to truck companies, and found one that can come on board and transport his product to neighboring states with just a couple of weeks notice.
Peter now knows what is expected of him, and the support he has in place for a sale, because Sam has taken the time to prepare and source out the information he needs.
Every employee should have objectives that have been worked out with their supervisors. This way expectations are clear, and there is no room for confusion. This will show that management is organized and means business.
2. Determine Protocols
What happens where there is a significant event or transaction at your company? Is it announced through word of mouth, or is there a client management software system in place that documents the event?
For instance, if Sam makes a sale, how does he communicate that information so that next steps can be taken, such as:
- Generation of contract or purchase order
- Allocation of resources to process order
- Commission payment
- Follow up
And forgetting sales for a moment, what about the rest of the office? What are the protocols that are in place for say, a leaky faucet or an injured worker? Who is empowered to act, and what is the limit of their authority? Establish these protocols, they are especially critical if you plan to be out of the office a lot. People need to know who is in charge, and of what, and when.
3. Resource the Right Software
What kind of software does your company need, and more specifically, what features should it contain that will make your processes more organized and efficient? You want something that will save you and your team time, such as:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
CRM is not just a database, it’s smart cloud-based software. It will integrate sales, marketing and customer support by analyzing the data from your customer emails, chats, phone calls, social media channels, and the company’s website. It can show you where in the customer journey each of your clients are, and provide a one-page summary dashboard of each customer.
A good CRM will allow you to provide notes, and generate reports upon request. The CRM will also send you reminders, resulting in the possibility of deals being closed faster, and higher customer satisfaction rates.
How big is your operation? Are there a lot of clients and sales in various stages of production or delivery? Consider a CRM to cut down on the workload required to manage all of these details.
Do you need accounting software? Look for something that:
Offers the Features You Need
What exactly does your business need from accounting software, and can the one you’re considering provide these features? Look for the types of reports it can generate, and the other extras the program offers (like estimates or automatic invoice generation).
Is Cloud Based
Meaning, you can access it from anywhere. For instance, you take a picture of a receipt from your phone, and then are able to immediately upload it to your expenses.
What kind of encryption and firewalls does the software employ? Are they enough for your needs?
Allows for Multiple Users
You want something your entire team can use. Imagine everybody recording their own expenses, rather than one person doing it all. This can save your business time, and money.
When you log on to the homepage for the first time, do you get it, immediately? Or does it require a tutorial? Does the software make sense, if you’re not an accountant? All things to consider.
Is Well Reviewed
What is everybody else saying about the software, online? This will give you an idea of the product’s capabilities as well as the strength of its customer support team.
Messaging and Collaboration Apps
Today, there are many ways to communicate and collaborate outside of email and in- person meetings. Consider a cloud-based app like Slack, that can send instant messages without making you go through the process of emailing. You can create “groups” on slack too by inviting project stakeholders to a newly created “channel”. Then you can provide project information or updates whenever they’re needed.
4. Implement Time Tracking
You want to be careful with this, because time tracking can affect morale. But presented the right way, and done properly, it can really keep your company or team organized, and better able to plan for the future.
Time tracking doesn’t mean you necessarily record when an employee shows up or leaves (you already pretty much know that), instead you track how much time each employee spends on a particular project. This is particularly helpful if you invoice for a specialist’s time, for instance, the work of a graphic designer. It will also let you know if a specialist’s allocated time is about to be exceeded.
Time tracking can also be helpful if a project repeats, you can just take a look at the last time it was done and the amount of resources and time spent on it. This means more accurate quotes.
There are many computer programs out there that offer time tracking, some are also included in the features offered by accounting software, like FreshBooks. FreshBooks will also help create an invoice from the time logs generated by your team members.
5. Ask Why
Take the time now and then to question why your business does things the way it does. Are the processes efficient, or do they just add confusion? Perhaps some ways of doing things were great when they were first introduced, but are outdated now, and just leave team members scratching their heads because of their inefficiencies. Perhaps there have already been grumblings, ask yourself if they’re legitimate.
Ultimately, you want all processes, systems and protocols to be effective. To do this, you must organize them so that they are answering your business’s needs. There’s no point in purchasing an accounting software solution, if you’re still asking staff to manually print expense reports. Or to pay the money for a CRM if the customer service department is not involved in the process.
If need be, get some help. Maybe hire a project manager temporarily, to work on getting your business organized, with the creation of specific projects designed to do just that. For more on project managers, please consult Why Is Project Management Important?