It’s the million pound question. Your business is thriving and growing and you have a lot to be proud about. But you’ve also learned a lot along the way. If you were starting your business again today, what would you do differently this time?
It’s a question that was asked to three finance professionals working in three small businesses during a recent webinar by SAP Concur in the US.
The answers they gave were very revealing. While all three shared different experiences, all shared a common theme: the things that are okay when you’re just starting out aren’t okay when you’ve grown.
Which one of these themes resonate most with you?
Grow Slower but Smarter
Most small businesses start as a result of a passion for the product or service they’ll deliver. When the business starts, all the focus is on the passion and the thrill of seeing demand grow. The business side of running a business takes a back seat because it seems less important than getting things out the door. But this approach can lead to problems as you grow.
Do you have the infrastructure you need to cope with the next phase of growth without putting too much pressure on your people and processes? Do you have a budget in place that means you can make an informed decision about every opportunity that comes your way or do you seize the opportunity and worry about the financial consequences later?
Recognise That Standardisation Is Your Friend
When you first start a business and there are only a few of you, processes don’t seem important. Whether it’s handling expenses, paying invoices or booking travel, there is such little paperwork to deal with, it doesn’t really matter if everyone is doing it differently. But think about a few years down the line.
Each of those founders is now heading up a team and each of them is using a different set of working practices. Suddenly, the administration looks a lot more cumbersome. Everything takes longer to process, it’s hard to get visibility into the numbers and compliance is a concern. If you start with a big business mindset and put processes and procedures in place right from the start, you’ll have fewer problems as you grow.
Don’t Forget to Keep Communicating Your Vision
When you start out, you’re all working towards a common goal. The excitement about what you’re trying to achieve is tangible. When you grow, this changes.
When you aren’t in a customer-facing role, it’s easy to be unclear about what the purpose of the business is because you don’t speak to the people who are benefiting from your product or service. It can lead to a lack of focus. Make sure everyone knows your core values and purpose. It leads to a workforce that is more engaged and better equipped to make better decisions.
SAP Concur and Small Business
Perhaps the thing I find most interesting about these answers is that while they were the experiences of people in US small businesses, they resonated very closely with the issues that the small businesses we talk to here in the UK every day are looking to solve. What is also interesting is that the challenges small businesses face as they grow are very different to the challenges big businesses face.
Here at SAP Concur, we have dedicated teams and dedicated resources for small businesses, medium businesses and big businesses too, because we recognise that as you grow, your company has specific needs and challenges. Our aim is to give you the support you need to help you see and manage risk and become more financially viable by seeing spend more clearly and being able to manage it proactively. It means that when you speak to us, you can be sure you’re speaking to an expert who really does understand where you’re coming from.