The right systems and processes are crucial for the success of any new and growing company. Small business managers, in the early days, often respond to new tasks or challenges on an ad hoc basis, the priority being to ‘get the job done’. But as a business grows, manual processes can start consuming valuable time and resource. Staff skills can become overstretched and deadlines impossible. In the end, putting the proper systems in place can become less costly and time-consuming than day-to-day administration. But when do you know it’s time to cross the business Rubicon? And when you do, what are the first steps to take?

The right systems and processes are crucial for the success of any new and growing company. Small business managers, in the early days, often respond to new tasks or challenges on an ad hoc basis, the priority being to ‘get the job done’.
 
But as a business grows, manual processes can start consuming valuable time and resource. So, when do you know it’s time to cross the business Rubicon?
 
Symptom: you can’t manage your manual processing 

If your business still relies on manual processes to complete routine transactions, an increased volume of transactions may be untenable. You may struggle with inputting data within the time allocated. Reports may be out-of-date and incomplete. OKRs may fall by the wayside while documents and tasks pile up. 
 
Symptom: you’re losing control of your business expenses
 
Making sure business expenses are properly claimed and controlled is key to keeping staff happy and budgets down. This can be increasingly difficult to do with increasing expenses but the same old policy. It can lead to spiraling budgets and a damaging lack of trust.
 
Symptom: you’re losing your figures
 
Lack of integration between different areas can become confusing and time-consuming as a business grows. Separate systems, processes or Excel spreadsheets for invoicing, expenses, wages, content calendars, marketing budgets etc. are often sufficient for startups but unwieldy once scaled. Figures become inconsistent, costs become incomparable and financial forecast becomes at best guessing and at worst misleading.
 
Symptom: you’re struggling to keep up
 
Certain processes are insufficient for the task, that knowledge gaps widen and cannot be navigated and administration tasks start eating into leisure time. 
 
Symptom: your systems are preventing business growth
 
Sometimes business growth can be as worrying as it is fulfilling. Taking on new staff or increasing sites, services or product ranges mean a weight of responsibility that existing finance systems and IT infrastructure can’t support. It may mean you have to set up temporary and patchwork solutions as you’re not quite ready to invest in the permanent.
 
Symptom: you’re tied up by red tape 
 
As red tape increases, not least with the continuing focus on clear expenses and benefits management from HMRC, policy and legislation can seem overwhelming. You may experience problems in providing the correct information for HMRC audit purposes and worry about penalty fines. Staff may be unclear and feel guilty about what they can and can’t claim. This could risk exposing the business to legal action.

We'll be discussing some of the best ways to ugrade your systems and processes next week. Look at our article on hiring your first employee and how to avoid the red tape.