Are you struggling to decide what tech you need to help you scale and grow? How do you decide what will help you accelerate instead of dragging you back? When thinking big, is thinking too big a problem?
Business owners can naturally feel anxious about choosing what tech to use in their business. It’s not just the cost, although that’s a factor, it’s also the time and energy of adoption. Introducing new tech can bring big benefits. It also means change that can be disruptive. Owners want to know that their investment in time & energy is worth it; and they also don’t want to paint themselves into a corner.
Business Horizon taking your Breath Away!
Our three-part series “Business Horizon taking your breath away!”, there’s the wow factor of the big adventure as well as the need to take a breath and prepare for the next stage of the journey. In this final part, we look at what tech will help you scale and what will cause headaches. In part-one “Are your systems fit for purpose?” we looked at preparing your business systems for the adventure and making sure its fit for purpose. Part-two “Data requirements – are they part of your scale-up plan?” looked at taking care of your data to help fuel your digital future.
What’s driving change
When you think big, you’re planning a very different future: The organisation will be bigger and structured for a larger operation; you’ll on-board more staff; you might envisage better customer experiences; you might enhance your product or value offering. This will drive the need for processes and systems that will scale. For further insight check out Dave Kerpen’s article “The 3 Barriers to Scaling Up Your Business”.
In the early stages, business may start small and validate the market before scaling. There’s minimal investment in processes & systems until there’s a proof point. This means the start-up systems begin to creak: There might be lack of transparency; gaps in processes; things fall between the cracks; and there’s risk because it’s in people’s heads. When you’re looking at scaling and taking more financial risk, you need systems to work and survive staff changes. Peace of mind will drive the need for stability and repeatable outcomes.
Systems and processes work better when designed as a business system. Our guide, Business System: An Essential Guide to Growth, will help you design a robust system for better results.
What holds us back
Cost is the most common reason given by small businesses for not investing in tech. Although cashflow is critical for most businesses, there is usually growth funding available, so there must be another reason. Perhaps investing in tech is more of an unknown with a lack of a clear understanding of what that would mean in practice. The second most common reason is the need for staff training. Again, there’s probably more to it than that. New systems are disruptive. Staff can feel unsettled and need more support as they change from one way of working to another.
What tech are we talking about?
You want to step up from doing things manually with documents and spreadsheets, to using systems that can help processes and information flow. There’s a range of options from simple to all singing and dancing. Often that’s reflected in the range of cost and complexity. You don’t want to spend time and effort getting a system working for you only to run out of steam eighteen months later. Neither do you want a system that is so complex, it takes eighteen months to implement! I’d suggest using your three to five-year business plan to guide your decision.
Solving the right problem
You could justify investing in better systems in almost any area of the business. Most small businesses have tight budgets and don’t have the time to do more than one project at a time. Choosing where to invest is a challenge. If you spend time and money in one area, you might not get enough of a bang for the buck. That could be bad for business, taking focus away from getting ahead. You have to prioritise based on what will give you the most advantage and address the biggest gaps. There’s further guidance on planning in “Technology Plan: 6 Reasons Why Scale-Ups Need One”.
For a business looking to scale, the choice of what tech can either help you accelerate or drag you back. Thinking too small may result in a solution that runs out of steam. Too big can result in unnecessary cost and too much time to bring a solution to life. Failure to focus on where you’ll get the most from your investment in time & energy can be a big distraction, and result in falling behind the competition. If you’d like some help in planning what tech you need, why not take the first step and arrange to have an informal chat with me in complete confidence.
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