Disparate, Hodge Podge Business Systems: How SMB Can Avoid Stressful and Costly Upgrades
By Jill Button, Founder & CEO, ProcurePro Consulting
As a small business owner or founder you started with an idea to take your passion or true calling and create a business where you could live your entrepreneurial dreams. The reality is, running and growing a business is a HUGE challenge and not for the faint of heart. You must go from an expert in your field to a jack (or Jill) of all trades including, marketing, accounting and even IT. Ugh! Not quite what you envisioned your entrepreneur life would be. Fear not, there is help for all those back-office services to take the stress and confusion out of running your business, freeing you up to focus on what you do best.
There has got to be a better way!
As a business owner, one of the most important decisions that can set you and your company up for success or too often, failure, is choosing the right systems on which to run your business. Maybe you started with basic free email, preferring to wait to invest in a website or accounting system. Manually generating invoices, posting on social, tracking and following up on new client leads manually can be time consuming not to mention frustrating. There has got to be a better way that won’t cost you precious time and money.
The good news is, it’s never been easier to start a business and now, with cloud based digital tools, you can run your entire business using simple, affordable, and fully integrated software systems that are specifically designed for small business that will take you though all phases of growth from start-up right through to a Jeff Bezos size, large enterprise.
So how do you know what systems you need and what tools to invest your hard-earned dollars in? Begin with creating a technology roadmap. A what? You wouldn’t begin a long, exciting journey without a reliable map, would you? Like a great adventure, begin with the end in mind and think about your ultimate destination or in this case, your ultimate business, and what it will look like. What systems will you ultimately have in place when you reach your growth goals? Email, website, documents storage are all things to start with. Do you sell products or services? If you sell products, then you will need something to manage inventory for you. Everyone needs customers, so you will also need a system to capture new ‘leads’ and track their progress through out the customer life-cycle. A Customer Relationship Management or CRM system will be needed. What about invoicing your customers and collecting their payments? How about vendors you buy from and who you will need to pay? A financial system is a must! Do you have, or will you eventually need to add employees and therefore pay them? Add a Payroll system to your Technology Roadmap. Like many, you may be working virtually and doing a lot of video conference calls. Another thing to add to your roadmap. If you are any kind of business, you likely will need a social media presence. Posting manually to all those social media channels is exhausting and time consuming. Add a Social Media Management tool to streamline the process
Once you have listed out all the systems you need now and will eventually need, you can then start prioritizing the systems you = need and when. This is how you build the roadmap. Essentially its like creating a great big wish list, then working backwards to today. Planning and prioritizing what you will need and when.
Strapped For Cash
Most start-up businesses, strapped for cash make the mistake of starting with free or low-cost email, document storage, even a Do It Yourself (DIY) email site (that’s exactly what I did!). Once you start generating actual revenue (you are selling stuff), you need to track the sales, invoice customers and if you are selling products, track and replenish inventory etc. A spreadsheet will usually be the first choice but can be so cumbersome and time consuming (time you should be selling your product or service), you start to wonder if its worth investing in an accounting system, so you install QuickBooks or FreshBooks because its cheap and that’s what your accountant sold you!
By this point you have a disparate, hodge podge mess of free, paid, on premise or cloud subscription software none of which are integrated or talk to each other. You are likely posting daily to social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, the list is endless, and your confused, exhausted, and wondering when the dream part of the entrepreneur journey will start!
If only you had begun with the end in mind and created a Technology Roadmap, you could have saved yourself your hard-earned money, massive stress and so much of your valuable time. Being just a little proactive will actually save you significant money in the end and prevent you from pulling your hair out later on when you have to rip it all out and upgrade to one of those fancy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
Fancy Integrated Systems?
So how do I know all this do you ask? I spent close to thirty years working for and helping large enterprise size companies upgrade from these disparate hodge podge systems watching them spend millions upon millions of dollars doing it. In fact its part of what we do here at ThryvX, helping business source and implement those fancy integrated systems, also known as Digital Transformation. I also admittedly, made the mistake when I ventured out on my own and went the free or cheap route and built my won DIY website. Luckily, once I added a few employees, the revenue starting coming in and yes, I pulled my hair out a bit, I thought about what kind of business I was going to build and what kind of systems I needed to make it happen and built my own roadmap.
So now your thinking, but I’m a small business and I can’t afford those fancy integrated systems. What if I told you that not only can you afford them, but you are also likely already paying more money for the disparate, paid systems you have now. Add in the time it takes you or your team to re-enter information from one system to another (CRM to Accounting or Email to CRM, to name just a couple of examples, then the costs start to rise and rise even more. Last, your time (and stress) while you may think is free or low cost, is NOT. If you could get back the time you spend on back-office systems and put that toward lead generation and meeting with customers, then the cost of lost opportunities makes it more than worth the time and effort to do it right.
No time, too stressed or too confused? We can help! Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss how ProcurePro can help.