Every small-business owner will know the excitement of starting a company , where it feels like every decision has to be made rapidly and the main priority is getting the enterprise into a sustainable financial situation.
Once a company has passed this stage though, owners will need to take a step back and start working on the business, rather than in the business. This means taking a look at how they can professionalise their operations and move into a more productive position.
To achieve this takes a few key steps that every organisation needs to undertake at this stage in their development. That's why we've assembled the following six steps that can help an organisation to move from start-up to a professionally run company.
1) Draft a clear business plan
A big part of becoming a more professional business is simply about taking processes out of the owner's mind and putting them down on paper so they can provide ongoing guidance. Make sure to also consult with others involved in your organisation, your staff and anyone else who has a stake in the performance of your company.
Formalising the direction you want the company to move in, the steps involved in getting here and the priority investment areas to achieve this, will all make a big difference to how professional your enterprise is.
2) Focus on your finances
Financing is one of the areas that every business needs to professionalise if they want to perform at their highest. This calls for organisations to improve their cash flow, work with an accountant to have proper processes in place and start creating professional reports for stakeholders that detail their performance.
If a business's financial reports aren't in a robust position, they will need to implement a strategy to boost cash flow and reduce expenses. This might involve pursuing options like debtor finance that can increase revenue and improve their overall performance.
3) Have clear job roles
For many new companies, jobs are loosely defined - they will often involve doing whatever is needed, when it is required. This is also true for many family businesses, where different people are involved in the enterprise but don't have a clearly defined role.
Moving to a model where every individual has a concrete job role will go a long way towards making the company's structure more formal, in turn helping it to become more professional.
4) Formalise the legal structure
This is similar to the above point regarding clear job roles - every small business needs to understand the benefits and limitations of changing its legal structure, and this will probably involve the advice of a specialised commercial lawyer.
It is also worth considering whether your company has outgrown its existing structure. If your enterprise started out as a business partnership and the partnership is changing, it may require you to rethink your structure.
Either way, having expert advice on the legal structure of a business is going to be essential as part of the professionalisation process.
5) Develop a professional marketing presence
If your business cards look out of date or your logo was designed in a rush, it may not be as professional as you would otherwise like. In fact, this transition away from a start-up mentality is as much about developing the right look for your company externally as it is about the internal processes and structures.
A big part of this professionalism is also coherence. A strong brand will make sense across every marketing avenue a company has - from the design of their website through to letterheads and even office design.
6) Write a succession plan
Sooner or later, a business owner will need to put in place a plan for when they choose to hand over the business. It could be that they want another member of their family to take over the reins or it could be that a chosen business partner might assume a leadership position. Succession planning is also a crucial aspect of a company's risk management strategy, so it is important to start this early.
The most important thing to begin with here though is the succession process itself. Make sure to draft a transparent, objective succession plan that provides a clear pathway for an individual to assume this position. Once this plan has been developed, it becomes a lot easier to choose a successor and then help them take on this leadership role.
Writing up a succession plan can also make the company more attractive to investors or any other group looking to put money into your business. After all, this sort of long-term perspective is going to demonstrate that your business is run effectively and is thinking seriously about its future.
Making a company more professional is something that every business owner has to address at some point if they want to continue growing. By focussing on their internal structure, as well as putting plans in place for the future, it won't be long before your company begins to look and feel more professional.
Earlypay has supported Australian SMEs with fast and flexible alternative funding solutions for more than 20 years. Our invoice finance or equipment finance products allow business owners to proactively manage their cash flow, freeing up your working capital for investing in growth. To chat about whether our solutions could be right for your business, call us on 1300 760 205.
If you'd like to learn how Earlypay's Invoice Finance & Equipment Finance can help you boost your working capital to fund growth or keep on top of day-to-day operations of your business, contact Earlypay's helpful team today on 1300 760 205, visit our sign-up form or contact [email protected].