Growth is something that every business desires, especially when the business starts out as a small business or a startup. It represents the realization of the potential behind one or more excellent ideas. The problem is that as many companies grow, they tend to become less efficient in the ways they function. This leads to waste, which leads to a reduction in profits and a stunted ability to continue growing. This becomes especially troubling when you realize that 40 to 45 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years of operation.
Let’s examine three ways that can help your business improve by mapping out its internal processes. This may help your business become one of the 1.4 million small businesses adding new jobs to the market.
Examining Secondary Departments
In any business, there are departments integral to the continued business of a business. These primary departments tend to deal with marketing, product development and so on. Secondary departments facilitate the function of these departments. An example of one common department is the information technology (IT) support desk designed to increase the security of data while minimizing technological problems.
The first thing you can do is to examine the performance of these departments. What happens when a problem arises? Does the department handle this problem swiftly and efficiently? What workflow is in place from the time a challenge develops to the time it is solved? In the example of an IT department, you could examine the following qualities to determine where aspects can be improved:
- How does IT facilitate training employees with new software or hardware?
- Do employees and data have sufficient protection from virtual threats?
- Are there consistent and effective approval processes for hiring employees, completing orders, filing for vacation, explaining the cost-effectiveness of solutions and so on?
- How well does the department work together?
Establish a System to Examine Marketing Interactions
As a small business grows, it may acquire or develop multiple brands. These brands will likely complement one another, but they may do so in ways that are not readily apparent. While some businesses try to establish a system for understanding how these brands interact, few successfully map their brand architecture. This is because they fail to focus on the right amount of interwoven factors and their respective relationships.
One approach to identifying these factors is to establish a system that acquires data about target customers. An example of this is:
- Customers purchase a product. They are incentivized to complete a survey describing details about that product that appealed to them in their decision-making process.
- Key factors are identified by processing the data provided. Correlations between demographics should appear.
- Complementary products should naturally have key factors that allow one product to be aligned with another. Pens and notebook paper are an example of two items that share a correlation due to their uses to customers.
- Marketing campaigns should test the links between these items to determine future marketing objectives.
- New complementary products should be developed as the result of this data.
Focus on Product and Service Efficiency
When producing a product or providing a service, there is a balance between quality and cost. Small businesses often fail because they focus on minimizing costs, which in turn drives quality to insufferable levels of customers. Companies fail to notice this until it is too late because they do not adequately map their production processes, which in turn means that they cannot determine what changes impact the items the most. Efforts to do so tend to fail because of the way small businesses have a laissez-faire attitude towards production.
Routinely schedule trips to production facilities. Have someone walk you through the cost of each step. Consider if one step could be improved upon to save money or increase quality in ways that could positively impact customers. Do not discount small, low-cost improvements that say “Thank you.” to the customer.
By choosing to map the various processes indelible to your small business’s growth now, you will substantially increase the chances that it will succeed as it grows. This is because you will better understand how your business operates, create blueprints for future processes, and better understand the needs and wants of your customers.
Though this work may be difficult and time consuming, the rewards it brings are well worth it to your business. By applying the advice listed above, you will develop mapping methods that are both effective and “stick” to your business’s daily operations.