How to Prepare Your Business for Growth
Many small businesses are not prepared to add employees and grow. Their workflows are too founder-centric.
Solopreneurs often face one of their biggest business challenges when they suddenly realize they can no longer handle everything on their own.
As part of this wake-up call, they discover that simply adding employees to their workflow is often complicated because their operations are not designed to be run by multiple people. The founder handles all aspects of an order, from selling the services to delivering them.
This founder-centric setup made sense since teamwork and collaboration weren't requirements when they started their one-person ventures. There was no one to collaborate with except themselves.
Here are some typical work practices of solopreneurs:
They store all files on their computer and back them up on a separate USB drive.
They use a @gmail.com email address.
They list their private mobile phone number on their website or social media so potential customers can contact them.
Their mobile phone is on an individual plan, not a business plan.
Only parts of their back office workflow are digital.
They combine business and private contacts and store them on their phone or computer.
If these practices sound familiar, consider changing some if you plan to hire full or part-time employees or collaborate with partners outside your organization.
Step 1: Separate Your Business From Your Personal Life
As a solopreneur, keeping your personal and business life separate is difficult. You are the same person. That's why many solopreneurs believe there is no point in having a dedicated mobile phone number for their business. They typically argue that an extra line would be an additional expense they cannot afford.
Regardless, this lack of separation could become a challenge when hiring an administrative assistant. Will you transfer your telephone number to your assistant so that customers can reach your assistant instead of you?
Contacts are another example. Many solopreneurs mix the contact information of family and friends with those of their customers and business partners and store them on their mobile phones. Imagine having employees. Would you want them to save your customers' contact information on their private mobile phones? Suppose an employee suddenly decides to leave your business. How would you feel if this former employee kept this information on their phone or computer and didn't transfer their contacts to you before departing? I suspect the damage could be substantial.
You can apply the same logic to product pricing, costs, technical drawings, software code, manufacturing processes, material selections, and supplier lists and terms.
If you don't want to lose company data and trade secrets when employees leave, you must centralize your business files. The best way is a content cloud solution.
Step 2: Centralize Your Business Files in the Cloud
Not every employee, contractor, or supplier needs access to everything. Once you have moved your business files into the cloud, you can define roles and give access to specific folders and files.
Crucially, all files are saved to folders in the cloud and don't reside on someone's computer hard drive.
If a person leaves, you just remove this person's access. If you work with contractors, you can grant them permission to a specific folder. Once they complete the work, you remove their access.
Even as the only person in your business, you can benefit from a content cloud solution when collaborating with people outside your organization. You don't need to receive files through email anymore. Just provide them with an upload link. Instead of emailing customers or suppliers large documents, include a download link or invite them to collaborate on a file stored in your content cloud.
Step 3: Digitize Your Workflow
Scalability is a critical factor when preparing your business for growth that affects not only your products but also your entire back-office workflow.
If you still process a lot of paper or ask customers to print, sign, scan, and email contracts, you should consider digitizing your workflow. Even without employees, your customers will benefit from this upgrade and reward your business with increased customer satisfaction and positive online reviews.
Learn to Delegate
Creating the technical capabilities is usually the fun part.
But to grow your business and hire employees, you must learn to use these capabilities and delegate work to others. Yes, I know, you have to learn to let go.
Changing one's behavior is always hard. However, with a setup that allows you to use a reliable and scalable digital workflow and with your business files centralized and safely stored in the cloud, focusing on learning to become an effective leader becomes much more fun.
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