Growing your small business can be tricky. In fact, rapid growth can actually harm your company if you don’t plan properly. When you are first starting out, for instance, you may not have the revenue to hire the staff needed to handle the increased business that rapid growth brings, and trying to do everything on your own is neither effective nor efficient. At the same time, if your operation isn’t scaled properly, rapid growth can cause your costs and workload to quickly reach unmanageable levels, making growth unsustainable and even causing your company to implode. Fortunately, using a combination of outsourcing, processes, and technology, even the smallest operation can maximize growth, while keeping costs and workload at sustainable levels. As your Family Business Lawyer™, we support you to incorporate the systems, processes, and technology to ensure your business is positioned properly for rapid, sustainable growth. To get your growth started off on the right track, consider implementing the following strategies related to outsourcing, systems, and technology. Boost Efficiency and Productivity With Outsourcing & Delegation When you first start out, it can be tempting to try to do everything yourself. But trying to handle everything on your own will not only cause you to burn out, it can also cause you to neglect your core responsibilities as your company’s leader and visionary. This is where outsourcing and delegation comes in. To begin, we recommend you conduct a two-week time study, in which you track every single thing you do for two weeks, from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep. Then, using the time study, identify which of your tasks can be automated—or delegated—to maximize your productivity over the long haul. Then, examine your effectiveness at handling repeatable tasks within various aspects of managing your operation, such as marketing, sales, customer intake, and fulfillment. From there, identify the tasks that are not the best use of your time, and use these three questions to get the most out of outsourcing and delegation. Take a look at this list and determine the following:
What tasks are taking up most of your time?
What tasks are the ones you don’t enjoy doing that can be delegated?
What tasks can be systematized?
Out of the tasks that fall into these three categories, are there any that you could outsource or delegate to someone else? Remember, hiring is your #1 growth strategy—you can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.
If you don’t currently have administrative support, consider getting immediate assistance with answering the phones and managing new customer intake and/or new product sales. Intake and basic customer service are repeatable processes that you can easily train someone else to handle and free up your time considerably.
When hiring new team members, particularly outsourced staff, it's often beneficial to use independent contractors (ICs) instead of employees. Contractors can help you save big on labor costs. Plus, ICs offer you increased flexibility to adjust your team based on fluctuations in the market and your workload, which can be a huge advantage for smaller operations.
But hiring ICs also comes with some significant liabilities, including major fines and other penalties for misclassifying employees as contractors. What’s more, you must be certain you have the proper employment agreements in place to guarantee you own the intellectual property ICs create for you, or you may wind up not owning the very work you pay them to produce.
Fortunately, with assistance from us, your Family Business Lawyer™, you can easily avoid these risks. Meet with us for trusted advice on the latest worker classification laws and for support in creating airtight independent contractor agreements that protect both you and your intellectual property.
Uplevel Growth With Technology
Today’s business technology solutions allow even the smallest operations to achieve incredible growth with minimal staff and infrastructure. Many tasks that used to take multiple people can now be completely automated, allowing you to not only increase efficiency but also enhance the experience for your customers.
When you look at your weekly list from above, see if there are tasks that can be accomplished by a technological system rather than a person. There are numerous business programs and apps available to help you with a wide array of office tasks.
Frustrated with the difficulty or speed of locating customer records or information? Try using a content management system. Overwhelmed by the creation and maintenance of too many paper files? Consider moving to a paperless office to free up your team’s time—and yours.
Harnessing the power of technology can boost productivity and support long-term growth in a number of ways. Here are a few other easy areas to start with:
Digital dictation and speech-recognition software
Mobile apps for inventory and logistics
Project management systems
Video chat systems
Instant messaging platforms
Document management systems
Implement Standard Operating Procedures for Routine Tasks Take a good look at how your business is operating. Have you implemented processes like standard operating procedures to make the repeating tasks in your company as efficient as possible? If not, it’s easy to constantly reinvent the wheel with certain aspects of managing your company, causing you to lose valuable time and lots of potential income. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are detailed instructions describing the procedures for carrying out recurring business tasks. At first, creating SOPs for your company’s processes might not seem very important. After all, if it’s just you and a couple of other people doing all the work, creating step-by-step instructions for each key task might seem like a waste of time. However, SOPs are critical for productivity and efficiency, and they can save your business both time and money in the long run. SOPs are also essential for growth, as they allow you to replicate key processes on a larger scale. Moreover, standardization facilitates training and helps ensure that your operation won’t come to a standstill if you lose a key team member. In the end, standardizing your business processes can have a positive effect on just about everyone involved with your business: you, your team leads, your staff, your customers—and even your successor. Read our previous post for a more detailed look at all the ways standard operating procedures can benefit your business. Don’t Overlook Your Foundation Even if you’ve implemented processes, technology, and outsourcing to efficiently deliver your core product or service and maximize growth, your company is still at risk if it doesn’t have effective legal, insurance, tax, and financial (LIFT) systems. In fact, without solid LIFT systems, your business is just one accident, audit, or lawsuit away from ruin. The LIFT Foundation System and Toolkit from us, your Family Business Lawyer™ is specifically designed to help you integrate these cornerstone systems into your operations and provide your company with an unshakable LIFT foundation. To see how stable your LIFT foundation is right now, contact us, as your Family Business Lawyer™, to take our free LIFT 20-Point Assessment. This assessment will highlight the gaps in your current LIFT foundation that need the most attention. From there, you can meet with us, your Family Business Lawyer™ to conduct a more thorough audit and implement the full LIFT Foundation System and Toolkit. Contact us today to learn more.
This article is a service of Hanson Legal and Milan Hanson, Family Business Lawyer™. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us at 541-776-3405 today to schedule!