What differentiates the good businesses from the great ones? Good businesses churn out products day after day and make a tidy sum at the end of the financial year. Great businesses churn out ideas day after day, make enormous profits and spread across the globe.
For many people already in a good business, the temptation is to stick with the status quo. After all, you make a good living. But in a world that is accelerating every faster down the road of progress, it’s not good enough to just be a good business. Business models in every industry are being turned upside down by new ideas and technologies.
Underlying it all is the efficiency of your business. It’s fundamentally about how much product you can make for the fewest inputs in the shortest time. If you can do this better than anyone else, then there isn’t much else that stands in your way. So what should we do if we want to transition from a good company to great company?
Have A Long Term Technology Plan
Given how fast modern electronics becomes outdated, having a technology plan seems to be impossible. But you need to think about when you want to update your IT and why it might help your operations.
Remember, updating your IT infrastructure can be particularly disruptive to workers. That’s why it’s important to incorporate any updates into your long-term business strategy. If you business is planning a major project over the next year, then it probably isn’t a good idea to schedule IT changes during that time. Schedule the upgrades for when the project is complete.
Also, make sure to differentiate between short and long term goals. What is it that you ultimately want from your IT technology, and how likely is it that what you want will be provided in the future?
Keep Your Most Productive Employees
The difference in the productivity of some employees compared to others can be enormous. This is why it is so important to keep the ones that are great. They can be a real boon to the whole team and encourage excellent work at every stage.
So how do you keep an employee? I think pay is important, but it’s only a small part of the overall transaction. One of the great unsung benefits of working for a great company is the sense of fulfillment. If a person in a team feels valued and that what they’re doing is valuable, then they’re more likely to be satisfied with their work. As a manager, it’s important to let valuable employees know just how important they are. It’s also important that they know why what they’re doing is valuable. Having a purpose is important.
It’s also important that your employees have a sense of agency. Agency means that they believe that they are able to take command of their environment and use it for whatever purpose they have. Employees can feel like they have no agency when IT systems don’t work or are very slow. If an employee has to face ten minute loading times on their computer every day, this can lead to frustration.
Making sure that the tools employees have are up to the job means that they’re less likely to experience burnout or want to leave.
Consolidate Your Business
Wouldn’t it be great if you could condense all of your business’ systems onto a single platform? How good would it be if you could organise all your repetitive tasks into one place? Things like scheduling, organising, making quotes and invoicing all involve a lot of paperwork. And these days, it’s mostly unnecessary.
Thanks to modern software, getting rid of paperwork is actually feasible. Plus, organising your business from one single platform allows you to save an enormous amount of time. Things like chasing calls, making repetitive phone calls and filling out physical forms could become a thing of the past.
What’s more, most software allows you to connect your work force’s mobile devices. That means that if they’re out in the field they have immediate access to customer information. In the office, employees can also do paperwork online, meaning less hassle, and make it more likely that you’ll retain them. There is some great info from Job Logic on the topic if you want to know more.
In-house IT used to be the way things were done in business. Go to any office in the 1990s and the 2000s and you’d find in-house servers and whole teams of IT professionals keeping it all running.
But this is a vision of the past. Now outsourced IT specialists are cheaper and more reliable than using your own, in-house solutions. The question is, what has changed?
Well, one thing is that external systems have evolved in the last ten years. Back in the 2000s, the industry was still very young and couldn’t always offer what customers wanted. Now, however, they can and the advantages are obvious.
One advantage is that your business no longer has to develop expertise in something in which it has no interest or pre existing expertise. This makes managing your operation a whole lot easier.
Also, external companies have means of reducing the disruption of IT problems to your employees and business. Many remote IT services are able to monitor your system and eliminate potential problems before you notice something is wrong.
This is valuable. In the past, you only noticed that something had gone wrong when your systems crashed. It was a disaster that took hours, even days to fix. Somebody would physically have to inspect the IT equipment to discover the problem. And often if the problem wasn’t solved, it was necessary to get somebody in from outside, which often took a day or two.
Modern IT companies that offer remote monitoring and support change the game entirely. There are no more long waits for fixes and no direct costs to you if problems arise.
Reduce Travel Time
Sometimes it is necessary to meet somebody face to face. Meetings held face-to-face tend to have more impact than meetings held online. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for online meetings.
Meeting online can actually benefit your bottom line. If you’re regularly paying for flights and other travel expenses, your business probably isn’t as lean as it could be. Reducing travel times means that your workers spend more time working and less time and money travelling.
For regular meetings use some business appropriate teleconferencing solution. And make sure you get a third party to organise it.
Have Employees Collaborate
When employees collaborate they tend to come up with better ideas and processes. But collaboration itself can be significant costs. Modern IT solutions, however, can reduce these costs by orders of magnitude.
Many small businesses use platforms like Google Drive to share documents. The benefit of Google, and platforms like it, is that you can collaborate on documents with others in real time. This means your employees can come to rapid conclusions about the best direction to take.
Make Customer Relations More Efficient
In order to retain customers, you have to make them feel like they’re important to you. Of course, they are important to you, but if you don’t know about their needs, then it can appear as if you don’t care.
When a customer contacts you, it’s a good idea if you can immediately access all the information you have about them. Integrating customer information with your telephone service can really help. If their information pops up as soon as they call, you’ll appear far more concerned and professional.
It’s also important to educate all your staff on your customer relations procedures. Once the training is done, it’s then important to keep standards high. This can be done through the use of relevant metrics as well as a little praise and recognition.
Secure Your Network
Businesses can be crippled by malicious attacks, from both outside the company, and from within. This is why it’s so important to have effective network security. If your network goes down, you’ll lose time and possibly data. Plus, if the data are sensitive or mission critical you could lose an enormous amount of money and face litigation.
Keeping data backed up is essential. But now more and more businesses are moving their secure networks onto the cloud. Good cloud network providers now allow your employees to access data through secure portals blocked off from the rest of the internet.
They also allow you to determine who should have access to what information. To minimise the risk to your data it’s best if only the people that need to have access to data have access.
When employees have a secure and consistent access to information, they’re able to react quickly. That means they can take advantage of opportunities where larger businesses would struggle.
Remember, a secure and reliable network is a foundation to your success. Once your network is secure, you can begin to build more advanced IT solutions on top of it.