Monday February 2, 2015 0 comments
Think back to when you first started your business - to the first decisions you made about how you were going to do things, how you were going to keep organized, and how you were planning to grow.
When you first created your business plan, did you have in mind the management tools you'd need to manage and grow your business into the future? Did you develop processes and systems enabled by software that would scale up alongside your business?
If not, you're certainly not alone. It's hard to plan for growth, simply because you're never quite sure what the future looks like until it's upon you. How fast will it happen? Unknown. When will you need to hire new employees? Unknown. Will your company outgrow the systems and processes you started with? Unknown.
But failing to plan for growth is a big mistake. It would be like a ship setting sail with no destination, simply because the crew wasn't sure how fast they could go, or what the weather would be like at sea.
The workflow management software your business chooses has a big impact on your ability to grow sustainably. Choose one that's much too bulky and expensive, and you'll spend a lot of time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. But choose one that's too limited, and you'll be inadvertently limiting your growth potential. Even choosing software that's the exact right fit can be a hidden limiter - as you grow, you're likely to try to keep your business within the capacity of that system for as long as you can, restricting your potential.
The key is finding a solution that easily meets all your needs, and which can grow alongside your business. You should be able to expand your customer base, staff, and sales, without spending a lot of time or money to upgrade. This includes time spent researching, learning, testing, and teaching new tools.
Many people start a business, and immediately enter into a cycle of patching problems. "Oh, we need a website!" they say, so they find the quickest, easiest way to get a website. "Oh, we need to sell from our website" they realize next, so they start the process of researching, learning, testing, and setting up an ecommerce system. They continue to realize needs as they go - CRM, accounting, timecards, project management - and find a separate point solution for each problem. The result is an unstable network of software solutions, none of which can talk to each other.
This is not a sustainable growth pattern. Instead, look for software that is modular in nature, allowing you to add different functionalities and increase capacity as necessary. Modular tools are easier to learn, as they all will look and operate in basically the same way. You also reduce time spent integrating information across your tools, as it should happen automatically in a modular system. They encourage planned, strategic growth, rather than problem patching.
Modular tools are also an easy way to navigate the "goldilocks" problem I mentioned earlier, of finding software that's neither too bulky nor too limited. They allow you to use only the tools you need, limiting costs while your business is young. But having tools available to easily accommodate growth gives you plenty of room to expand without worry.
Knowing that there are other easily-learnable, integrated tools at your disposal can even inspire you with new ideas for growth, and can provide clear next steps for future goals. Growing into a suite of modular tools can encourage you to push your own limits, rather than forcing you to push the limits of your software.
Growing a business is hard work, and tests the limits of the processes and systems you have in place. Make sure your business software is up for the challenge of growing alongside you!