Growing a small business is a really rewarding experience, full of team spirit and innovation. Beating out the competition, getting love from customers, and gradually improving your bottom line are some of the high points.
But there are less exciting, albeit necessary, parts of managing a small business. There are projects that need managing, deadlines to be met, budgets and finances that require monitoring, and client invoices that need to be sent (have to make payroll!).
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At some point, spreadsheets and independent software aren’t enough for your business needs. There’s too much mess, workflows aren’t integrated, and it’s difficult to track progress. So, small businesses typically reach a point where investing in a business management solution becomes necessary.
And if you suspect you’re nearing this point – or at it – read on.
Why should small businesses consider a business management solution?
A business management solution makes it easy to organize day-to-day tasks by creating a single, centralized management system for all your business processes and activities. This helps:
- Increase productivity
- Provide transparency into operations
- Ensure accountability
- Benefit from automation
- Streamline operations by identifying inefficiencies
And more. Growing a small business can be a monumental task. However, the right business management solution can help lessen the load by streamlining routine processes, allowing business owners to focus more on planning, building ideas, and other high-skill tasks.
6 Signs that your business is ready for a business management solution
Not sure if it’s time to invest in a business management solution? Here are 6 signs that your business is ready for one.
1. You’re scaling fast
As businesses scale, most elements become ‘amplified’. There are more projects, and more complexities. There are more team members and responsibilities. Unfortunately, amplicifation means that mistakes and errors are more fatal, too, and processes are more challenging to govern.
That’s why laying a solid foundation is vital. A clear system and structure, with defined responsibilities, integrated workflows, and transparency helps growing small businesses maintain their success.
And this is where a business management solution is helpful – the software lets businesses:
- Structure and organize workflows
- Assign responsibilities and track progress
- Prioritise high-priority projects
- Identify and address bottlenecks
2. You need to better manage cash flow
Cash flow is often referred to as the lifeblood of a business, but unfortunately, 82% of small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management.
If you’re looking to improve cash flow planning, a business management solution helps by revealing insights into the profitability of projects, revealing cash flow gaps, and providing a holistic overview of business economics. A good solution also helps automate different tasks, like generating invoices or financial reports.
3. Your team is juggling too many apps
When your business is in its early stages, using different software for various business processes is appealing – especially because there are excellent apps with generous free plans. So you might end up with various tools for:
- Managing client invoices
- Managing internal cash flow and budgets
- Project management
- Generating reports
- Team collaboration and file sharing
However, as small businesses grow, juggling different platforms not only consumes time but also makes it difficult to monitor processes and activities, potentially harming productivity. It also adds an extra layer to your onboarding – new hires will have to learn all the different tools.
Fortunately, a business management solution eliminates this headache by centralizing your most important activities and processes in one platform.
4. Your company is becoming more data-driven
Guts, instinct, and intuition have their own place in business, but sustainable growth requires data and analytics. Growing businesses need data related to financial forecasts, work progress, project profitability, and more, to make strategic decisions and keep growing sustainably.
If your small business is prioritizing data, a BM solution helps by delivering accurate insights into business operations and enabling you to track ROI.
5. You need to automate more
Automation helps small businesses grow sustainably by reducing labour costs, minimizing inefficiencies, and empowering team members to focus on valuable tasks.
Automation takes over repetitive, rule-based tasks, but the first step of implementing automation involves discovery. Businesses need to identify ‘automation-ready’ tasks – i.e. ones that are rule-based and automatable – that provide the highest business value.
A business management solution is valuable here because:
- It delivers granular insights into business processes and activities, helping with discovery.
- Many business management solutions provide in-built automation features, and they integrate with dedicated workflow automation software.
6. Your gut tells you it’s time
While data and hard evidence are vital components of decision-making, don’t overlook the importance of intuition. In fact, one interesting study revealed that executives who relied on their intuition were 90% accurate in their decision-making. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also rely on data and tangible signals – but give intuition its due weight, too.
The takeaway? If your gut tells you it’s time to use a business management solution, then listen to it.
What should you look for in business management solutions?
Now that your business is ready for a management solution, it’s important to choose one that’s suited to your needs. Here are 6 important considerations to keep in mind.
1. Intuitive UI/UX
A business management solution’s purpose is to improve productivity and workflows, not make them more complex. So when choosing a software, be sure to look for one with an intuitive user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
I.e., make sure:
- There is a centralised dashboard that displays important information.
- It’s easy to navigate – it shouldn’t take more than a couple of clicks to access business insights.
- It’s intuitive to use. Even small things like how the tool lets you visualize projects, or how roles are assigned, are important.
Remember, your team is going to use this tool every day to manage various business processes, and new hires will have to quickly get acquainted with it. So pick a platform that’s easy to get started with!
Fortunately, many business management solutions offer either a free trial or a limited free plan, allowing you to take the tool out for a spin before committing to a subscription.
2. Workflow management capabilities
Business management solutions should include features to integrate and streamline workflow management, including:
- Project and task management capabilities. Does the software let you create and manage multiple projects, including timelines, role assignments, task hierarchies, and resource allocation?
- Customer relationship management (CRM) features. CRMs have earned their place as a ‘must-have’ in many businesses’ tech stacks, and thus, many business management solutions incorporate CRM capabilities.
It’s worth prioritising a solution that comes with CRM features to help combine your customer-facing and internal operations.
- Invoicing features. If you’re in the services industry, generating invoices is an important activity that shouldn’t be delayed – it leads to delayed payments and payroll. Some business management solutions help you automate invoice generation, making sure clients are invoiced on time.
- Team and workload management capabilities. Do all your team members know exactly what tasks they need to do? Are some team members shouldering more of the workload than others? Are there delays you need to get ahead of?
A business management solution should help you answer these questions – and more – through role and workload management features.
There’s a lot that goes into workflow management – beyond simple task and project management. You don’t necessarily need to choose a solution with every feature, but be sure to pick one that covers your essentials!
3. Analytics, reporting, forecasting
As we discussed in the previous section, becoming more data-driven is a sign that your business is ready for a management solution. That means you’ll need a tool with the right analytics, reporting, and forecasting features.
The specifics of the analytics features vary from software to software, but make sure the solution you pick has some variation of:
- Cash flow analytics and financial reporting. Check your quarterly insights!
- Productivity analytics, i.e., insights into projects’ progress, deadlines, team workload management, etc.
- Predictive analytics, so you can better forecast and plan ahead.
4. Cash flow management capabilities
Cash flow management is a top priority for successful small businesses, but it’s not a manual-friendly task. Spreadsheets and static documents can only get you so far – and that’s why it helps to have a business management solution with real-time cash flow capabilities.
With the right business management solution, you’ll know exactly where your revenue is coming from – which accounts and projects are the most profitable – and where the cash is going.
Automation features have fortunately become more of a given than a luxury in modern project and business management tools. However, some tools offer more robust automation capabilities than others.
When evaluating software, consider:
- Your current automation needs, which may include task automation features, automated invoice generation, reporting, etc.
- Custom automation capabilities, to make sure your future automation needs are covered. Does the software let you set up flexible automations for your workflows?
Some business management solutions, like Caflou, offer built-in workflow automation builders to help you streamline processes. Caflou also integrates with Make, a powerful third-party app for implementing custom workflows.
Learn about how to automate business processes in our guide for small businesses.
6. Good customer support
The business management solution you choose will host important business operations, projects, and client relationships. Given how important these functions are, it’s important to choose a software backed by a company that cares.
So when you’re considering a business management tool, look into its customer support features and see what customers have to say about the provider. You’re effectively choosing a partner, so do your homework before getting into bed with them.
The bottom line
Ultimately, a business management solution should help manage your business – it needs to be easy to use and must provide good value. Before choosing any software, it’s important to evaluate your business needs and see which solution best fulfills them.
Caflou is a business management software purpose-built for small-to-medium-sized businesses. The suite is designed to help you manage all essential business processes — from workflows to business economics and client invoicing – in one central platform. Getting started with Caflou is free.