It might be a widespread economic downtime but not for everyone. Because for some lucky enterprises; business is booming. So if you’re looking to scale up your business here are some tips:
Office accommodation is a bottom line cost that can be punishing for new businesses. And home working is a cheaper alternative but isn’t practical for all businesses. So research local enterprise initiatives; some local business incubators provide free office accommodation for the first year of a new business. A good place to start is the local chamber of commerce.
Software as a Service (SaaS) – things to check
There is lots of SaaS business software now available for small firms. Examples such as KashFlow for small business accounting, Capsule for small business customer relationship management software or Dropbox for storage. Often these software solutions act on a freemium basis allowing you to use the service for free at the outset with either a restriction on data or number of users before the payment model kicks in. Whilst the free option might be enticing for the one man band enterprises, it might not be great value for money when you need to add multiple users to the account. Do a bit of calculating at the outset so you know what would happen if your users jumped from one to five to ten employees and so on. Always make sure you can export your data out of SaaS providers and do so, on a regular schedule.
Open source software where you can
Open source software is secure and well supported thanks to active communities; the fears of the early years of open source are no longer valid. Make use of productivity software such as OpenOffice and Libre Office which emulate Microsoft Office. Thunderbird is a good replacement for Microsoft Outlook. It is worth considering using Ubuntu Linux as an operating system if you are not keen to update to the latest Microsoft operating system. There are many more and Open Source software options and with a little research you can replace pretty much all proprietary software.
It is a rare business that doesn’t have a website these days and if your website is also your main sales point or only sales point make sure you can scale it to meet increasing demand. Also use a web host that is transparent in their pricing for upscaling and support costs such as Memset.
Document all business procedures
By documenting all business procedures you build up a document store that can be used as the template for staff training if and when employees are hired. The documentation should be constantly updated to cover different scenarios as and when they occur. This is specifically useful in customer relationships and management. When things go wrong a set template for dealing with the problem has already been created, allowing the business to respond faster and better.
Define staff roles
Define staff roles in such a way that empowers staff to make good decisions in your absence. No business owner can monitor their business 24 hours a day 365 days a year, nor should you want to. If just starting out and you have a fear of a junior staff member rectifying a problem at massive expense, then set a budget limit before seeking authorization, start relatively small then work to a larger budget as your faith grows in the staff member. This is an excellent way to free you up from minor troubleshooting.
Back-up Everything – scaling or not
Back-up everything; use the mantra that if it doesn’t exist in three places then it doesn’t exist at all. Make sure at least one of those places is in a different geographical location from the others. This is fairly easy to implement these days. If you don’t have a lot of data the free cloud storage services of Dropbox, Sky drive or Google Drive are all good starting points with Dropbox being the best of these. If you have a lot of data say image or video files you might be better of choosing a dedicated online storage such as Memset’s Memstore or Amazon’s Web storage.
Ben Jones is a writer that has particular interests in how technology can drive business forward. Follow him on Twitter or Google Plus
I think that when you want to upscale your business, you should look forward. Could I still use … (this office eg) if i had 20 more employees? Open source can be cheap, but should not be the goal. The goal is to find the right software (or office eg) for the near future.
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