When starting a business, there are so many things to be considered. One of the most important things, or dare I say “essential”, are your business processes. These will become the cornerstones of your operations and there is no business that can operate without them (no matter what the business is). Whether you are a sole-proprietor doing all of the work yourself or a small business with an experienced assistant (which I highly recommend if you are able to afford it – even if part-time), the following are business processes that should be in place when you are ready to “open the doors” or launch your business:
Scheduling and Data Entry (Administrative Duties)
Having a business process in place for ease of scheduling and data entry (aka, record keeping) will become one of the most critical (if not the most critical) elements of your small business. And, quite honestly, I believe it is also one of the most difficult to maintain alone. I cannot begin to explain just how much work goes into data entry alone that can make balancing your schedule daunting. Why? Because data entry includes managing inventory (if you have it), file organization, invoicing, managing and sending emails, document creation, calendar management, travel coordination (if you travel), and other administrative tasks that track and manage the operations of your business.
While there are many software applications that can help track and manage your schedule and data entry, quite frankly and if at all possible, hire someone (either part-time, full-time, or contracted) to perform these duties. An alternative is to have a professional administrative assistant set up all of your business processes while you focus on the technical elements of your business. If established using web-based software (i.e. acuity, doodle, nicetomeet, etc.) or mobile applications (i.e. prontoforms, fulcrum, accuform, etc.), there may be a slight chance that you can manage the administrative processes for your business.
Though I briefly mentioned invoicing as a part of the scheduling and data entry, this topic actually deserves a brief section for discussion on its own. Why? Because invoicing is not solely about physically sending and receiving invoices. The business process of invoicing is about storage and management and is often (and more than likely) sent and collected separately from the scheduling and data entry software. If you’re not looking for full accounting software, there are plenty of standalone applications. There are so many to choose from and of varying price; however, essentially you should weigh your options on the needs of your business.
Payroll, Bookkeeping, and/or Taxes
These three processes are essential. Although if you do not have employees, payroll is one less process you have to worry about (at least partially). If you have contractors, bookkeeping is essential. Though you are not paying “payroll” you are issuing a 1099 at the end of the year for services contracted through a person or independent company if it meets and/or exceeds the IRS threshold of $600. Of course, I am going to add to regularly check the IRS website for 1099 regulations in the instance this amount changes.
When addressing invoices in the previous business process, I mentioned different types of bookkeeping software. When choosing how you will process and manage business funds, ensure it is able to manage how you will pay taxes quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. I would also highly recommend software or a mobile application that can easily integrate banking, credit card spending, and receipt management (meaning you can upload receipts – which paperless will maximize efficiency and accuracy for you or your accountant.
In order for your business to be known and thrive (either locally, nationally, or globally), marketing is a mandatory business process you need to establish. How else will people know about your business, what you sell, what services offer, what specials you decide to have, or how to contact you? But of those, none are the main purpose to implement a strategic business process for marketing. So, I know you are wondering what would be the main purpose, right? Revenue. Marketing brings in new and repeat customers or clients, which increases sales and establishes your brand. The more you’re able to establish your brand and the quality of it, the more revenue you are able to generate. I would imagine this is one of the reasons (if not the main one) you started a business.
When setting up your marketing process, consistency will matter. With the constant changes in the types of social media platforms and new styles of outreach (from fliers to still pics or videos to mini-clips); it is important to remain flexible in your content. There is no one size fits all marketing process.
You’ve now got a few business processes that should be considered at the foundation of developing your small business; however, this list is not all-inclusive. Depending on your target market, your brand, the time you have to commit, funding to support administrative and operational duties, and/or your knowledge, skill, or expertise in any of these areas, there are many other processes to consider (i.e. shipping, blogging, order management, etc.). As a small business owner, the most important business processes should be the ones that will make you go from good to great and great to stellar.