How to Optimize Business Processes

Businesses cannot thrive and grow without efficient business processes in place. From recruiting and hiring employees to sales, marketing, accounting, and managing computer networks, virtually every business function requires a series of processes. The process of business ensure that all related tasks are documented and well organized. In theory, those responsible for carrying out a given process will know exactly what to do and when. However, business methods are not necessarily efficient. Business method optimization seeks to make business method as efficient as possible.

Why Optimize Business Processes?

Some business methods start out efficient but become less efficient over time. For example, as rules and regulations change, you may add tasks to a process in order to comply with the new regulation (Source: “Optimizing business processes”, InfoWorld). However, some existing tasks may no longer be required due to the change. Did you remove those tasks from the process? Likewise, changing one process may affect another process, resulting in unnecessary duplication or tasks that no longer need to be done. If secondary processes are not updated, inefficiency is the result.

Inefficient business processes can result in:

. Unnecessary delays
. Mistakes
. Employee frustration
. Customer dissatisfaction
. Accidents
. Wasted time
. Unnecessary use of resources
. Duplication
. Unnecessary costs

How to Optimize Business Processes

Businesses cannot afford to waste time, money, and resources. They cannot afford the risks of errors and accidents, employee frustration, and unsatisfied customers. In order to address these problems, improve productivity, and streamline operations, business method must be evaluated and optimized on a regular basis (Source: “What Are the Best Tips for Business Process Optimization?”, wiseGEEK). One approach to business method optimization consists of just three steps: identify, analyze, and automate.

1. Identify – Identify the process that needs to be optimized. Break down the process into its most basic components. What are the individual tasks that need to be done to complete the activity? What is the activity’s desired outcome? When does the activity begin and end? Who is involved in this activity? Which deliverables, reports, or information is generated or required as part of this process? Are any secondary processes likely to be affected by your changes?

2. Analyze – After identifying the components of a process, the next step is to rethink the process. Look at all of its parts in search of inefficiencies. Ask yourself “what if?” and “why?” and think of ways to reduce waste. For example, “What if we generated PDF copies instead of paper ones?” or “Why are we generating three paper copies for each order?”

3. Automate – As you fine tune the process of business, explore solutions designed to automate it. For example, business management solutions exist for any number of business method such as invoicing and accounts payable (Source: “Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) for SAP Finance”, Dolphin). Automation can ensure that the workflow is carried out consistently as well as do so more efficiently. Whether automating accounts receivable, invoicing, or any other process, business process automation can deliver substantial cost savings, risk management benefits, and cash-flow improvements.

Sources:

“Optimizing business processes”, InfoWorld, http://www.infoworld.com/t/business/optimizing-business-processes-867

“What Are the Best Tips for Business Process Optimization?”, wiseGEEK,
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-best-tips-for-business-process-optimization.htm

How the Better Business Bureau Affects Your Business

Putting up a business is never an easy task, especially if you are planning to set it up from the ground up. Some people opt to go for a franchise, not only because this is the easier route, but it is also because of its risk-free nature-most scientific studies sup-port the conclusion that franchises have a higher success rate than independent businesses. However, whether a business is a franchise or independent is the end-all and be-all of a particular venture. Streamlining your business to the needs of your consumers is also a key player, and this is mostly influenced by the level of trustworthiness your company has.

What comes with a Better Business Bureau accreditation?

One way to build your company’s trustworthiness is by applying for a Better Business Bureau accreditation. The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that strives to build trust among marketers and businesses. It has been around for 75 years, and most of it was spent setting standards that help build the reliability of the businesses in its network. The main thrust of the organisation is to promote ethical, principled, and just business practices among its members. The tenure of the organization speaks for itself, because every year, tens of thousands of users look up businesses in the organisation’s database, especially customers who are not that familiar with existing businesses. For this people, there is no benchmark, and if all businesses are on equal footing, being part of Better Business Bureau will definitely boost your company’s trustworthiness.

What’s in it for my business if it gets accredited by the Better Business Bureau?

Helping your business gain credibility is not all that you can get from getting accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. When you get recognized by the organisation, it also helps widen your network, which will in turn, help you attract more business. Being a member gives you access to a system that collaborates with other entrepreneurs to establish the best practices in the industry, helping your business gain expo-sure to potential market and partners. Also, there is a lot of merit in exposing yourself to an organisation that highlights the transparency of your business because this way, consumers are more likely to trust you. In a nutshell, being a member makes your business the front runners of the ones doing the best practices.

Can anyone become accredited by the Better Business Bureau?

Getting accredited by the Better Business Bureau is open to everyone, but sadly, not everyone who applies makes the cut. This is because of the time and effort one company has to dedicate in order to achieve the most coveted recognition of the organisation. It takes more than a year to fully get cleared, and what comes with this is a very extensive and conscious dedication from the business so that they can truly prove the credibility of their company. Aside from meeting the requirements of the Better Business Bureau, it the company is also tasked to make sure that they minimize the complaints from their customers. This, if any, should easily be resolved and the company must not be subject to any legal sanction from the government. The implication of this is that it becomes apparent to the public that only businesses with high standards will get membership.

Despite the very detailed process every business has to go through in order to get
accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, it is evident how this has a positive effect on your business. It is not just because of the prestige, but mostly because of how it helps you create a relationship with your customer that is built on trust.

Starting A Business In Australia? What You Need To Know Right Now!

Starting a business in Australia can be either simple or complex, depending on the way you choose to structure your enterprise.

Choosing The Right Structure For You

There are four basic structures that you can choose from -

• Sole Trader,

• Partnership,

• Company,

• Trust.

Most people commence in business as a Sole Trader or Partnership. As the business grows and takes on employees many people choose to restructure by forming a Company. Trusts are a less common form of legal entity and it is rare that a new business owner would set up a Trust in the early stages of their new business.

Regardless of the business structure you choose, the first thing you must do is to apply for an Australian Business Number, or ABN as it is more commonly known. Applying for an ABN is free and can be obtained in 10 minutes by visiting the Australian Securities and Investment Commission website.

If you wish to trade under a business name such as Jim Brown’s Pizza Palace you need to register this name with ASIC also. At the time of writing, this fee is $30 plus GST for one year or $70 plus GST for 3 years.

In Australia, if you don’t produce an ABN, other businesses will often refuse to trade with you. When applying for an ABN, you need to consider whether you need to be registered for GST. If your annual turnover is likely to exceed $75,000, GST registration is compulsory. If your turnover is under $75,000 registration, in most cases, is optional. Most new businesses choose to report and pay their GST on a quarterly basis.

GST: Exceptions To The Rule

• If you drive a taxi or a hire car, you must register for GST regardless of your turnover.

• If you operate a non-profit organisation, GST registration is not required until you have a turnover of $150,000 or more.

Getting The Right Business Advice

Before you start your business, it pays to get advice from a professional such as an accountant or financial advisor. However, this can sometimes be costly.

In Australia, free or low cost assistance is available from:

  • Business Enterprise Centres (found throughout the country)
  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Various State and Federal Departments eg. Regional Development, Ausindustry, Industry and Investment, Austrade, ACCC etc
  • Local business networks
  • Professional business networks such as your local Business Chamber
  • Industry Associations

Type of Business

Have you already got a business idea in mind? Will you buy an existing business or will it be a new start up business? Maybe you are setting up an online business. Have you considered the operating costs, the pricing structure, the staffing plans and the business hours? Will you operate from a shop, an office or home? Have you checked Local Council Regulations? Do you know what Insurance and Licences you will need? Have you done your research? Is there a market for your product or service?

Will you be starting part time or jumping straight in? Have you done a business plan? Is your business likely to be viable?

Don’t go into business until you have checked all these things out. Remember that business is a subject that needs to be studied, just like hairdressing, carpentry, accounting and web design. Do your due diligence.

Overcoming Ugly in Your Business

There are many great business owners who have fallen out of love with their business. They love being in business, but they just hate doing all of the stuff that a business requires, like hiring and firing staff, billing, filing government forms, etcetera, etcetera. They didn’t go into business for themselves to do all of this “stuff”; they went into business because they had an idea for a unique product or service that offered a significant improvement, or they had a passion about improving some condition of our lives and the communities in which we live.

At the root of this dissatisfaction and frustration is a business that hasn’t grown large enough so that the operational functions can be outsourced or assigned to another staff member. This tipping point generally comes when the business is two or more years old, has less than $2 million in gross revenue, and is owner managed. It is a rut, and many businesses get stuck in it. It is ugly, frustrating and discouraging, and is the demise of many otherwise would be successful businesses. Owners of an “ugly” business may get so frustrated they start looking to sell or just give up and shut the doors. “While either of these options will eliminate the pain, they aren’t the only option”, explains Chuck, an entrepreneur himself, who has also traversed this terrain.

Getting out of this “ugly” pit requires a different perspective. When a business owner has become consumed by frustration and discouragement, it is like being in a pit. All he can see is dark walls of problems, unachieved goals, and ultimate defeat. That small light of hope and opportunity at the top of the pit seems so far away and no longer achievable. A fresh set of eyes can help.

One who has a fresh perspective can ask the most important questions; questions that are essential for an overall assessment of the operations, including questions about the operating procedures, the business strategy, the marketing strategy, the mission, vision and culture of the organization, as well as an analysis of the competition. For many entrepreneurs, starting a business is only about launching their idea – giving birth to a product or service, or establishing a mission. For a business to become successful it must be sustainable and that requires staff, process, and the engagement and commitment of all stakeholders. This is the tipping point where things get “ugly” and where many business owners get stuck. It is because they have to relinquish control, which is not easy because it has been their hands on the steering wheel that has driven the business to the level of success thus far achieved. A business coach, who has a fresh perspective and relevant insight, can help define how to maintain control without having to do everything yourself. “Owner managers often get stuck because they can’t see the forest for the trees”, says Chuck. “They are so busy fighting the day-to-day alligators that they forget they went in to drain the swamp.” It is that loss of the big picture vision that entrepreneurs started with but quickly lost during the process of execution that derails them. A business coach can help connect the entrepreneur’s vision with the “dots of execution”, and enable the development of clearly defined operational procedures and processes, strategies and tactics, and culture and structure that will result in a sustainable and successful long term business.

Although a frustrated owner might be able to craft a plan to get things back on track, and perhaps even execute those plans, a collaborative and trusting relationship with a business coach, who has been down this road, can save time, frustration, trials and errors, and produce the positive results that entrepreneurs wanted from the outset.