Indeed, when looking to achieve successful growth, it is critical that owners review and update the systems and software used.
This facilitates the elevation of that successful growth, going from a well-performing small enterprise, to a profitable medium-sized operation.
This is a well-trodden path I’ve walked, during which I’ve helped numerous clients manage successful growth during this process of change. Here are my insights of supporting clients in making this transition.
(1) Make a plan
Business plans could be considered as the necessary evil of the commercial world – few people enjoy writing them, but their value is often underestimated.
One of the main focuses of your plan should be how you will grow your business. Consider where the increase in sales will come from – new regions, products, customers or commerce channels, for example.
You will also need to think about what impact any increase in sales would have on your current business and how it operates. It is likely you will need to implement new systems and processes to facilitate successful growth. It is important to identify economies of scale, where possible, to pave the way for increased profitability in the future.
You may need to invest in more people, larger premises and additional equipment. Ensure you include well thought-through financial projections, including a sensible contingency figure, and make sure your cash flow can support the additional capital required.
(2) Review your systems
The systems and processes you have in place for your company may serve it well now, but what about when you expand?
An audit of systems and processes can be invaluable as you will be surprised at the large number of different systems your company already relies on to operate; consider how you manage purchasing, finances, orders, human resources, payment processing etc.
Excel spreadsheets are certainly not the be all and end all. Different members of staff working across a variety of programmes can cause a major headache and confusion when it comes to auditing processes or when training new members of staff. Using a wide selection of different packages also increases the risks of mistakes being made, which could seriously damage your business.
The benefits of using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to help with this can be immense, as it integrates these disparate elements into one streamlined system, which can be used across all sectors of the business. This ensures that everyone is looking at the same information and using the same technology, reducing the risk of mistakes and confusion amongst staff.
ERP software also provides comprehensive performance management reports for the business, giving you a clear oversight of what is happening as your company grows. Furthermore, the inclusion of cloud functionality can enable you to access your information remotely – essential in an increasingly connected workplace.
Finally, an ERP system allows the automation of key tasks, so whilst it requires an initial investment, this is usually offset by the resulting cost savings.
(3) Take your customers with you on your journey
Whilst you are planning the successful growth of your company, don’t forget your customers – consider what additional benefits you can provide to them.
More efficient systems might allow you to be more competitive in your product or delivery costs, for example. It may be possible to reduce production or shipping lead times. New channels might be more convenient or provide a better experience for your customers.
Plan a communications strategy to help keep clients on board with your expansion plans. Building a loyal customer base is vital to ensuring you get the returns to justify the investment you are making and to continue growth.
Together with your external customers, consider your internal ones, too. Making your employees and suppliers feel as if they are a key part of your expansion plans will generate goodwill, confidence and trust.
This is key to building the foundations for a strong, successful growth business that can go the distance in today’s competitive marketplace.
Mike Cockfield, MD of multichannel software specialist Khaos Control Solutions