Three back-end, not so sexy things many entrepreneurs overlook when starting up a new business. By Scott Brewster.
Let me set the scene. You had a great idea for a business and have started bringing that idea to life. You’ve written a business plan, found investors, partnered with great suppliers, hired staff and are now focused on lining up the customers. The last thing on your mind is decidedly unsexy back-end processes like data storage and workflow management, right?
This is the case for most start-ups. In fact, research from Startup Muster (2014) found customer acquisition is the biggest challenge for 60 per cent of start-ups, followed by funding (44 per cent) and product development (33 per cent). It’s understandable then that back-end processes aren’t high on the priority list for entrepreneurs, however it’s these processes that end up taking significant time and energy.
Addressing the demands of running a business before they start to encroach on other priorities will save business owners a lot of headaches later on. To help set yourself up for success, here are three key back-end areas to get right from the start:
#1 Data storage and access
You know it’s important to keep your business’ data safe and secure. There are lots of different options when it comes to data storage and access, but they shouldn’t be an afterthought. For example, a cloud storage option is internet-based and thus easily accessible from anywhere. You can store all the data you need securely, your employees can access whatever they need, when they need it from wherever they are at the click of a button. Think about the capacity and accessibility needs of your business first, and then match up a supplier and solution at will with your business.
#2 Workflow management
As your business grows, you’ll increasingly need an integrated workflow management solution. This helps to connect the different parts of your business so that when an order comes in, fulfilment knows to pack the order, accounts knows to invoice for the product and inventory knows to order more product. You may only have five staff now, but you might have 500 in a few years and you want your workflow management to be in place and able to scale with your business rather than having to constantly revamp your processes. Use a system that fulfils this need. There are ways to implement such technology without breaking the budget, so look out for solutions that are suited to start-ups.
#3 Printing devices and maintenance
Choosing a printer is probably not at the top of your priority list in the set-up phase of your business. Most businesses start with purchasing their own printer from a retail store, and go down the managed print solutions route when the need arises. However, buying from a retail store can be a band-aid solution. If you get this right from the start, your printing solutions will be able to expand seamlessly with your business. Enter a managed print solution partnership from the start, or at least purchase your printers from a vendor that offer such services in case you decide to down the track. By doing so you’re taking printer trouble-shooting off of your to-do list.
Scott Brewster is the Chief Operating Officer of Forum Group.
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