Is it possible that your business processes are actually preventing your business from reaching its full potential? It's likely. Many business owners struggle to scale their businesses. Not because the potential isn't there, but because they have outdated business processes, including old, legacy systems and challenges in the sales cycle, that prevent them from achieving those critical goals.
If your business is struggling through a period of transformation, or you're simply looking to optimize so you can grow, these unscalable business processes--many of which are hard to see on the surface--could be the reason for your challenges.
Unscalable Business Processes That are Hard to See
Here are important business processes that could be preventing your business from scaling.
1. You're still using outdated, legacy systems.
Technology is changing at the speed of light--and so are the needs of your customers. Today's customers expect a high standard of customer service and personalization every time they connect with your business. Whether they're looking for the latest office flooring or interested in marketing services.
Your legacy systems may not provide the high degree of service those customers have come to expect. They may slow you down, leave you struggling to pull together the information you need, or even lead to unnecessary downtime. Worse, those legacy systems often do not integrate well with your new technology. This means you may have knowledge gaps in your understanding of your customers and their needs--and what you can offer them.
Part of your business processes needs to include updating your legacy systems so that you can move forward into a new era. Look for technology solutions that will fit the new needs of your business. Not solutions that will leave you behind the times and struggling to keep up.
By making that vital transition to new technology, you will free your business to move forward to a new level of success. Ask yourself:
- Is the technology I'm currently using scalable? Are there better options that will stick with me as my business continues to grow?
- Is my current technology providing all the solutions I need, or are there challenges that solution does not address?
- What do other platforms have to offer that my current technology does not?
- Do I still have high-level service and support for my technology? Or am I struggling to get the support I need from the creator of those products? Hint: if the product manufacturer no longer supports it, chances are, you are well past due for an upgrade!
2. You have unnecessarily long sales pitches.
Whether you're pitching to investors or pitching to prospective clients, it's critical that you have a short, meaningful pitch that will show them exactly what benefits your business can offer and why they should connect with you. You're busy. Your clients are busy. Your investors are busy. They have high demands on their time and energy. They don't want to spend a long time sitting down with you and listening to the advantages of your product or service. Often spelled out in detail that they won't need until they decide to either invest or make a purchase.
Not only that, unnecessarily long pitches may cut your time and make it more difficult for you to keep up with the demands of your business. Why waste time putting together a long, detailed pitch when you could, instead, put together a short presentation or document, then connect your prospects with content that you may already have put together--including content that is already on your website or hosted on your social media pages?
Streamline your pitch by:
- Foregoing unnecessary examples. Sure, you may want to show some case studies. However, you can provide data that will allow investors or prospects to check those out at their convenience. Then extrapolate if they have questions, rather than having to present all of that information at the moment.
- Narrowing down the genuine benefits of your business. Provide potential customers with the information about why they should choose your business over your competitors' as concisely as possible. Offer investors a clear view of exactly why they should trust and invest in your business.
- Focusing on your audience. What do they most want to hear? What will increase their trust in you? Focus on your audience as you design your pitch. Here, you can often create a much clearer pitch that narrows down the details. Remember, it's not about sharing your accomplishments alone, no matter how proud of them you might be. Rather, it's about offering your audience reasons to trust your brand.
- Summarizing your concept and why it's important. What does your elevator pitch look like? How can you minimize the information given? You may have the chance to share further information later. But as you deliver your initial pitch, focus on providing exactly what customers most want to know.
3. Your sales cycle is unnecessarily long.
The longer it takes to complete a sale, the more time you have to spend with each lead. That means significant challenges for your business as it grows. First and foremost, it unnecessarily increases customer acquisition costs. This can leave you struggling to continue to grow and transform your business. Second, it can leave you with unnecessary obstacles as your business grows and scales.
Some sales cycles are simply longer than others. When it comes to large-scale businesses making large deals and investments, it simply takes time to make a decision. Not only do you need time to develop a rapport and build trust with your leads, who need to know that your business is the best solution for this specific need, but there are also many internal processes that go into determining whether your solution is the right one for the business and ultimately gaining approval to make a purchase. That sales cycle may naturally extend longer than the cycle you would find in a retail environment. This is where customers come in deliberately to make a purchase.
However, it's important to take a look at your sales cycle and determine whether it is unnecessarily long. Creating delays could prevent your business from growing as fast as necessary.
Are your sales cycles too long? Consider these strategies that you can use to shorten it.
- Automate as much of the sales experience as you can. You can still provide that personal--and personalized--touch to your customers. But you may not want to unnecessarily extend the amount of time your salespeople have to spend on each contact.
- Remove any friction or obstacles on the customer journey. Provide customers with the information and tools they need to make a purchase upfront. So that they can more easily move through the buyer's journey and ultimately make a purchase.
- Focus your marketing, lead acquisition, and lead nurturing on ideal buyers who are most likely to proceed in making a purchase with your business.
- Offer a high degree of customer service and support--whether customers are asking for it or not. Connect with them often. Remind them that your business is there to help them. Remain top of mind for your customers at all times.
- Provide comprehensive training and onboarding for users who have made a software purchase or purchased a service for your brand. Make sure they know exactly how to make the most out of your services.
- Create highly valuable content that will help guide users. Make your website one of the foremost resources for people who need something from your industry, then keep it current. Establish a clear content creation schedule. Keep in mind that as your business grows, the resources you provide should grow along with it. Because as a powerful presence in the industry, you want to offer powerful benefits to your customers.
4. You're still trying to do it all yourself (or at least fill in with roles that don't have adequate staff.)
You're an entrepreneur. In the early days of your business, you likely wore many hats and filled a multitude of roles. Some days, you might even have felt as though you barely left the office!
As your business scales, however, you may no longer have the means to provide all of those services on your own. Your expertise is in your industry and, in many cases, in business in general. As your business scales, many of the facets associated with dealing with your customers scale along with it. Your accounting will become increasingly complex. Your IT needs--from cybersecurity to networking--will grow. Keeping up-to-date on those skills will take your time and attention away from your other tasks. Often leaving you struggling to focus on the elements of your business that you do best.
If you truly want to scale your business processes and remove any potential obstacles to growth, make sure that you:
Hire the right people for the job.
Look for talented individuals who have the skills necessary to fill those roles. Hire for soft skills and a great personality fit for your team, not just the hard skills you need. Don't underestimate the value of training a team member who has the right soft skills and a great overall fit, but who may not have the specific hard skills that are necessary to complete a specific role as a member of a larger team. Learn exactly what you need from your employees, then hire for those specific attributes.
Outsource when needed.
There are a lot of services that you can take care of in-house. Many services, however, can be outsourced instead. And often, outsourcing those services will provide you with a higher standard of service at a lower cost. When you choose to outsource, you get:
- A team that is up-to-date on the latest standards in that industry and prepared to share that knowledge with your business.
- Access to the latest industry tools.
- On-call solutions that you can access whenever you need them.
- A high level of talent and skill encompassing all the areas of that industry that your business needs. For example, when you outsource IT, you'll get access to professionals who can handle cybersecurity, networking, data management, and more--without having to find a single individual who offers all of those skills and assets.
- Expert advice from professionals who don't have personal "skin in the game," and who therefore can make recommendations based on what is likely to work best for your specific business.
By outsourcing vital services that do not fit within your company's reach, you'll often find that your employees can focus more fully on the vital tasks that make up your daily business day--and ultimately provide better service for your clients and a better environment for your employees.
As an entrepreneur, you're used to having your fingers in every aspect of the business. You're good at a lot of different things, and you have opinions about a lot of the aspects of running your business.
You also can't be everywhere at once--and you may find yourself burning out quickly if you try to do it all. While you want to provide a great example for your employees--a top-down model in which upper-level management showcases their willingness to dive in and work can go a long way toward improving overall company culture--you don't want to take on so many tasks that you will burn out or, worse, not give your best to the tasks in front of you. Instead, practice delegating. Get to know your team members and what they're good at, then assign them the tasks that fit their specific skill sets. Often, you'll find that they're able to provide more innovative solutions that can help take your business to the next level.
5. You have an exceptionally long hiring process.
From the time a job comes open to the time you finally have an individual filling that role, how long does it take to hire a new team member for your company?
Is your hiring process slowing you down and serving as an obstacle to your business's growth?
Hiring a new employee can take anywhere from a few days--most common in industries with high turnover or that require relatively unskilled labor--to four months. Sometimes, you may find that it takes even longer. You have to post the job, leave a window for accepting applications, go through the applications, and move employees through your interview process. Then, you have to onboard new employees--which may mean even more time before employees can move into a position of responsibility in your business, where they can accomplish everything they need to according to their job roles.
The Disadvantages of a Long Hiring Process
A long hiring process may have several key disadvantages to your business processes as a whole.
- Prevents you from accessing the best talent in your field, since they may accept another role before you decide to hire them.
- May keep your company running slowly--and your employees taking on too many responsibilities. This can lead to burnout and high turnover as you wait to fill open roles.
- It can decrease potential employee confidence in your business and lead to them feeling as though you won't respect their time once they're in the role.
- You may need to pay employees that you hire slowly more to offer incentives for them to leave their current positions.
- Slow hiring may damage your reputation as an employer and prevent you from gaining qualified applicants.
- It reduces hiring manager and recruiter excitement and engagement with the process, which can lead to a higher level of overall apathy related to the candidate once you bring them in.
How to Streamline Your Hiring Process
While you cannot remove every potential barrier that could slow down your business processes, there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of time it takes you to bring a new employee on board.
- Put your job postings in the right locations. Learn where you can quickly find qualified candidates, whether that means using a recruiting platform or posting jobs on a specific platform. Connect with local colleges and universities to learn how to bring recent graduates onto your team.
- Build a network of people who might be interested in your business in the future. Don't wait until you need to hire someone to learn about candidates who might be interested in your business. Keep in contact with interested individuals.
- Put together an effective job posting to help draw in applicants by providing them with the information they need to decide whether they are a great fit for your position--both in terms of the skills they have and the benefits you can offer.
- Decrease the number of steps candidates have to take before accepting a position. Regularly evaluate your business processes, from application through interviews and tests, to make sure that each one is truly necessary in order to screen interested candidates.
- Take a look at potential bottlenecks in your system. Where do applications often get bogged down? Look for ways to remove those bottlenecks--which may be unique to your organization.
- Get in touch with great applicants quickly after the interview. Even if you aren't yet ready to hire, let them know where you are in the process. You'll find that truly interested applicants will be more likely to wait to hear back from you again if you provide them with contacts that let them know you're still interested.
As your business grows, many of your business processes need to change in order to adapt to your new needs--not to mention your customers' new requirements.
By avoiding these five key obstacles in your business processes, you can grow your business more effectively. Want to discover how I scaled my business from 6 to 8 figures and was able to get out of the day-to-day so I could focus on being a Visionary CEO? Check out this webinar or contact us today to learn more.