When you run a business, there are constantly tasks that you have to deal with over and over – and your system for tackling them will affect how well you move your business forward.
Creating business processes will help you effectively implement and repeat these essential tasks.
Some are rigid and an absolute must for market success, while others can change to suit your business needs.
But all processes have one thing in common: If you don’t implement and execute them, you’ll decrease your business’s ability to function.
Business processes are strategies that combine in repetitive harmony–performing tasks to achieve a positive business outcome.
You design and implement each process to help you run your business, reduce outgoings, and maximize profits.
Your business processes could include hiring employees, product development, sales strategies, product deliveries, finances, and anything else that keeps your business running.
When these processes work together, it enables a business and its employees to work efficiently.
Business processes provide you (and your team, if you have one) an easy-to-follow blueprint of how you run each element of your company.
They act like a GPS your business can follow to ensure everyone’s working together and are accountable for their duties and actions.
With repeatable processes in place, your business will run like clockwork, and you’ll achieve reliable positive outcomes.
Business processes help reduce outgoings, by identifying unnecessary spending that enables you to save on costs and find effective ways to produce the best possible output.
When you have processes in place, they help eradicate unnecessary activities and tasks from your daily routine.
Processes identify where you lose time, so you can remove, improve, or implement newer, more effective strategies.
Customer satisfaction is essential for any business, and implementing streamlined processes can help you provide a 5-star service.
Efficient business processes produce exceptional results that your customers can rely on, and when clients are happy, positive testimonials and recommendations follow.
Most businesses rely on other companies and staff to achieve their goals, and without transparent processes in place, things can get overlooked.
Implementing easy-to-follow processes removes the guesswork from running your business–and that helps you better control daily operations, make sure everyone’s accountable, identify mistakes or delays, and ensure they don’t happen again.
Your business processes depend on your industry, marketplace, location, and goals.
But there are 3 that almost every business needs, regardless of circumstances.
Almost every business needs to make a sale, and most use a proven sales process to do it.
Here’s what a sales process looks like:
These steps help you implement a seamless workflow to make sales and receive payments. The process is flexible, so you can change it to suit your business and location.
(We’ll look closer at a 7-step sales process later in the post.)
The product delivery process involves every step required to get your product to the end-user (customer).
It varies depending on whether you manufacture or resell products, your location, and your delivery system.
But most delivery processes work like this:
Another crucial part of enhancing your customers’ experience is to provide exceptional customer service that turns an unhappy client into an advocate for your brand.
For that, you need a customer service complaints process, and most work using the following steps:
You know the saying, “It ain’t what you do but the way that you do?”
In today’s competitive marketplace, your business needs to stand out from the crowd, and it’s how you run your business that makes it happen.
Fortunately, most business processes are pretty straightforward–such as your marketing style, where and how you advertise, implementing an easy checkout process, your staff’s attitude and service, or your unique products.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, but you must implement a business process that enables you to do better than your competitors.
Essential processes give you that edge. Here are 6 to consider:
Regardless of your business, you need a workable system that delivers a sales process that maximizes every opportunity and leaves customers feeling satisfied with their purchases.
Try this 7-step business sales process that moves your would-be customers through your sales funnel, turning them into happy paying clients:
Prospecting is when you find potential clients; qualifying determines if they need your product or service and can afford it.
Stage 2 is preparing for initial potential customer contact and when you tailor your sales pitch towards your potential buyer’s needs.
You contact a potential client; it could be face-to-face, via phone, email, or social media.
You present and show how your service or product solves your client’s problems. It could be a physical demonstration, YouTube video, website images, or product descriptions.
For every sale you make, you’ll get several objections. You can turn uncertain consumers into customers by addressing those concerns.
Depending on your business type and marketplace, you could use one or all of the following close techniques: The assumptive close, the gauging technique, or the summary close. The key to closing is, don’t sell people your product; sell them your solution.
A pitch often requires 5 follow-ups to convert to a sale. The follow-up stage allows you to close hesitant clients and stay in touch after a deal to encourage repeat business and referrals.
It’s uncommon for small or new business owners to have an HR department; odds are, you’re it.
But you can use a business HR process that helps you find and recruit the right person for the job by implementing fundamental strategies that HR companies use to attract productive employees who bring value to your business.
Standard HR processes include:
Employee onboarding integrates new hires into your business.
When implemented correctly, new employees learn about your brand values, feel at ease, support, and are part of the business family.
It’s known that the better your onboarding process, the higher your staff retention rates.
As you guessed, offboarding is when an employee leaves your business.
This process must leave ex-employees with a positive impression of your business to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and positive brand perception.
Flexible working hours and remote working are becoming the norm, and depending on your employee’s situation and location, laws often dictate that you have to accommodate them.
It could be short-term, such as parental leave, or an ongoing process as you streamline your business and ditch expensive office spaces.
Your HR process will require planning to ensure it works both ways. While specific parameters exist, all are independent and changeable to suit your business needs.
Every business needs to establish a reliable financial process that monitors its financial health to ensure the cash continues flowing while covering all the running costs.
Those could be tax obligations, staff wages, insurance, permits and licenses, rentals such as vehicles or property, and services.
To implement a financial process, you need the following things:
You must separate your personal and business banking to maintain an easy-to-follow paper trail of your business debits and credits.
A business bank account also simplifies your accountancy duties for tax purposes, reducing bookkeeping costs.
And suppose you run a limited liability company, limited partnership, or an S corporation. In that case, you’ll require a business bank account to ensure personal, and business finances do not blend, as that could lose you your limited liability protection.
Most of us have budgets because we don’t want to run out of cash, and a lack of cash flow is the main reason small U.S. businesses go bust.
A realistic business budget provides you with a clear picture of your present finances, enables you to make projections, compare forecasts and accurate results, and adjust if and where needed.
Accounting and bookkeeping systems record your business financial transactions, such as what you earn, spend, where, when, and why.
Maintaining financial records is essential to any business, and the IRS requires most U.S. business types to keep them for 3 years.
You’ll also need an accounting system to manage and comply with tax payments, staff salaries, defined-benefit payments, cash flow, and business costs.
5 accounting software systems for small businesses:
Any business manufacturing or buying products to resell under their brand name (“white-labeling”) needs a product testing process to ensure viability.
Viability means there’s a demand for your product, and the current market sales price is high enough for you to profit after costs.
Product testing and consumer research also enable you to review consumers’ reactions and thoughts of a new product and features before bringing it to the market.
Ideas are great, but the execution is everything.
Concept testing enables you to determine how viable your new product is by surveying your target audience.
For example, you survey 50 people to test your concept, get their opinion, and use quantitative and qualitative (language and numbers) methods to evaluate the results before investing in production.
Combining concept testing and surveys helps you find any pros and cons to specific product design elements, which you take to the next stage:
Consumers don’t care too much about features; they care about the value they bring, making this step of the product testing process crucial.
Determining which features your target audience value is “customer needs analysis research.”
The process identifies specific consumer requirements for a service or product and is usable throughout the product testing and development.
Once you identify features that resonate with your audience, you can continue developing, test again, create some more, then go to market.
For that stage, you need a sales price:
Now that your research is complete and product features are in place, your next step is to determine how much your target audience will pay.
Your product price point is the average retail price.
It ensures your target audience can afford your product, allows you to compete with your competitors, and leaves you room to change your price.
But pricing a product goes beyond average price points and your audience’s budget, and you have several techniques to choose from.
Customer support is a range of activities that solve problems your customers or target audience have with your product or service.
Excellent customer service consistently solves your clients’ issues in a timely and acceptable manner–resulting in an improved customer experience and positive reviews for your brand.
Some ways to provide customer service are:
Live chat lets you provide instant support, ensuring you turn issues into solutions before they become problems.
A recent survey shows that 73% of customers find live chat the best form of communication with a business.
Chatbots are 24/7 automated customer support tools that can resolve several common customer problems.
Most chatbot systems allow consumers to transfer to a human agent if not satisfied.
Phone customer support is still the number one way to resolve complex customer problems.
Customer support staff members who know how to handle customer complaints the right way can provide a positive customer experience.
People still love to use email to contact customer support because it’s trustworthy and provides a conversational record.
Email also enables you to follow up with automated template emails to ensure customer satisfaction and encourage further brand interaction.
Some customers prefer to use self-service customer support before engaging with agents.
Because of this, many businesses include a knowledge base page on their website that provides how-to posts, explanatory videos, demos, e-books, and FAQs.
Social media customer support enables you to react in real-time when issues arise.
When you interact with your audience through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social channel, it shows people you’re available and there for them when they need you.
Your vendor/supplier process is how you plan and manage relationships with any partner that supplies products or services to your business.
It can include raw material suppliers, product sellers, utility supplies, and cleaning services.
And you have to manage these relationships correctly so your suppliers ensure an efficient flow to your business.
Creating a vendor/supplier process enables you to review suppliers that bring value and manage those that do not.
Vendor/supplier process best practices:
When you buy from a vendor more than once, try to build a relationship that enables you to contact them and talk with confidence.
A good business relationship ensures you understand your supplier’s capabilities, and they know your needs and requirements.
It’s about building trust between you and your suppliers to establish a long and trusting relationship that serves both parties.
Supplier process management systems like (SCMS) supply-chain-management software technology help you manage supply chain purchasing, vendor relationships, and control other associated business processes.
With this technology, you can track your suppliers, use a dashboard to see how everything is proceeding and discover any problems through easy-to-read data.
Paying suppliers on time is how you maintain a positive supplier relationship and encourage vendors to prioritize your orders.
Of course, most suppliers take a deposit upfront. You pay the rest before delivery, but any payment delay after product completion affects your supplier’s cash flow and could sour your relationship.
You have a lot to handle running a business, and you might do most of it alone.
That’s where implementing essential business processes can help you, by increasing your control over what’s going on.
The processes you read about today help you run your operation in an organized way and ensure nothing is left to chance–letting you get the most out of every dollar and hour you devote to your business.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.