Shifting IT Strategies as Your Business Grows
There is a saying that you hear a lot in business: Plan for the worst, hope for the best. This is typically related to data redundancy, cybersecurity, or one of any other proactive steps a business should take to control the continuity of their business. What happens when you plan for the worst, but the best comes to fruition? What happens when your business consistently meets demand, prospers without issue, and grows quickly? Today, we will take a look at some issues the small business owner has to deal with when his/her business isn’t so small anymore.
Are You Running a Small Business?
In today’s business culture, new entrepreneurs have a tendency to emulate successful case studies. When you are running a small business, it doesn’t afford you a whole lot of time to seek out the answers to the never-ending stream of questions you have. Sure, you will pick the brains of other business owners and try to make decisions that will support staying in business longer than the average business (around half fail within five years), but ultimately what the business demands to thrive is that you work on it as well as working in it.
Working in the business is doing the actual work needed to make the business work. Do you own a restaurant? You likely are the chef or the business manager for that business, but if you aren’t constantly updating and innovating, you will likely fail. Entrepreneurship is the hardest of work, but over time if it’s approached right, it can have the sweetest of payoffs. This takes a certain perspective that can only come from constantly working on the business. That entails forging relationships, studying market dynamics, operational analytics, consumer demand, and much, much more.
How IT Fits In
Information technology is making businesses of all sizes, in all markets, more efficient. The use of IT can be as small as a single computer to a sprawling IT infrastructure that features onsite and hosted resources. Regardless of what you use IT for, as your business grows, to keep order, you will likely turn to more IT. The earlier an entrepreneur looks to IT to handle their presumptive operational problems, the more likely they will be able to see substantiated growth. Sure, our new restaurant may need limited IT, but once the business demands expansion to new locations, having technology to automate and manage your business’ processes will be a godsend.
Small businesses that automate redundant and menial tasks, regardless of the market in which they operate, will provide value in the forms of added efficiency and cost reduction; two variables every small business is looking for. Once that small business grows into a larger business, building on that technology-centric model cultivated from the beginning of the business will be much simpler than trying to incorporate new IT environments into a system. Our restaurant incorporating a point of sale system at the beginning will be less operationally prohibitive to the business then having to retrain your entire staff to use a new POS system years after inception. Sometimes technology isn’t in the budget, but if it is, incorporating it early is a solid strategy.
Management of Growth
Many entrepreneurs get to the point where
their business is ready to take the next step only to be held back by their own
intuition. Many small business owners, while working in the business, find
themselves involved in elements of the business where, frankly, they don’t
belong. That’s not to say they can’t do what they please, but some business
owners focus on the customer recognition rather than the collaboration needed
to build a successful product. Being too involved in the day-to-day running of
a business can actually hinder your business’ growth. Going back to our
restaurant, if you are the chef and you demand input on the manner in which the
servers interact with the customers, and the food starts to suffer, are you
really doing yourself any service?
Hiring managers that have complementary skills (those are skills that you traditionally struggle with) and trusting them to do what’s best for your business is the only way that you will have time to work on your business. Most entrepreneurs tend to hire people like themselves, to create the echo chamber of positive reinforcement that they crave, but to get the most out of your business, you need people committed to the business, but not to a static way of doing things. A positive company culture starts with a great mission and workers that have freedom of thought. The more innovative minds are working toward the same end, the more successful the endeavour will ultimately be.
Look For Experts
Finally, as a small business grows, new avenues will be made possible as long as payroll doesn’t become prohibitive. Paying the people that help you get to this point will cost you less than having to continually find, hire, and train new employees, but overextending your business’ capabilities to pay your staff can cause problems as well. What’s the answer?
Once a business gets to a certain point, resources are needed that may not be completely in the budget. Today, there are outsourced options for much of your business’ needs. They come on contract and can provide you with immense value. In IT management a company like Macatawa Technologies can reduce your upfront technology spend substantially by offering you a monthly service agreement that covers all your business’ computers, servers, networking equipment, software, and more. You’ll have a budgetable amount every month and you will get access to some of the best business technology support.
That’s just one option. You can get help from anything from accounting to water management from professionals that will work to proactively monitor and manage your business’ systems so you can keep profit-sapping downtime to a minimum.
If your business is asking you new questions, call our professional consultants and we can have a conversation about what is next for it. Reach out to us today at 616-394-4940.