As a small business owner, you will have processes and systems in place that are unique to your business. They're executed regularly to sell your products and services. But what is a business process?
Tecnopedia's definition of business processes is a:
"wide range of structured, often chained activities or tasks conducted by people or equipment to produce a specific service or product for a particular user or consumer. Business processes are implemented to accomplish a predetermined organizational goal. Business processes occur at all organizational levels; some are visible to customers, while others are not."
The reality of small organizations is that these processes are rarely well documented or formalized. That's ok. You don't always need to have them formalized to run a successful business. However, it is challenging to grow a business without good processes in place. It usually makes sense to have a system that will allow your business to track these processes' execution and efficiency.
Now imagine that you are at that exact phase with your business. Your revenue has been increasing consistently in the last 3 to 5 years. Your profit margins are healthy, and your team is growing. At this point, you have probably seen the need for an improved system to track data and customer journey's to grow your business. There is an internal debate going on between using spreadsheets or implementing a more centralized, detailed system.
We have seen a wide range of behaviors when it comes to implementing new systems during the many years that we've been helping small business owners. The early adopters jump in right away and subscribe to a cloud-based system before they are ready for it. The more conservative adopters move forward with spreadsheets and documents that create more work than it is necessary.
Early adopters often find that their new system is not providing them the information they seek. They either give up, or they find help to move forward.
The more conservative adopters might gain some momentum because now things are more organized. Still, in the long run, they find the system they are using is not adequate. After a period of time, using documents and spreadsheets can become very difficult to manage, and executing their business process is still time-consuming and maybe even frustrating.
It is common for business owners to formalize their business processes with many assumptions about how the systems work. However, tracking your business activities in a system without having the processes mapped out will not give you the results you want. Your team will make assumptions about how they are supposed to track things in the system, and most of the time, these assumptions are not aligned with how they should be using the system.
The ideal path is to formalize and improve your business processes while you implement a new system. Collaborate with a consultant who can guide you and your team through implementing the best practices. Working with an expert from the beginning will help you save time and money.
Cultivate an open mind. Remember, many cloud-based systems have been designed to solve business processes that are common for all businesses. If the system doesn't work the way you expected, try to understand why. There may be an opportunity for you to adapt your business process in a way that will give you better information in the end. It is also possible to customize the system to be more aligned with how your business operates.
At Small Business CRM Coach, we help small businesses and nonprofit organizations implement CRM systems. Track sales, customer journeys, and marketing activities with a system customized to your specific needs.