Common Mistakes in Running a Small Business
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’d know that there are some mistakes that you’ve made. Today, we’ve been asked what are the common mistakes that we see around the traps in small businesses. It’s a great question because we see a lot. Are you using paper? Have you answered the phone in your business recently? Can you monitor what all of your staff are doing and can they reference a document that shows them what they’re meant to be doing? If the answer is no, then you’re making a mistake.
There Are So Many Mistakes
Are you using paper? If so, you’re probably making a common mistake. Have you yourself answered the phone in your business recently? Probably a chance that you’re making a mistake. Can you monitor what all of your staff are doing and can they reference a document that shows them what they’re meant to be doing? If the answer is no, then you’re making a mistake. We’re going to go through some of these different ways that you can overcome these problems.
Stop Using Paper!
If you’ve got a lot of paper usage in your business, there are always better ways to do things. Think about why you’ve got the paper there. Most of the time, it’s either for a paper trail that you can easily do with mobile phones.
Most people have a mobile phone in their pockets, but very few people carry around a notebook and paper. It’s easier to just take notes on your phone.
Start doing it! There are great tools out there, such as Evernote, Google Keep and OneNote, that let you take these little slight key quick notes and you can also set up awesome reminders within them.
We really like Google Keep’s ability where you can set a location reminder as opposed to a timed reminder. Maybe next time you cruise down to the shops it comes up with your shopping list and you can see exactly what you’re meant to be buying. That is an invaluable tool.
Now, all I’ve spoken about there is removing the need to have a notepad with you or writing some scribble in your phone. You can use that with different lists at different locations. I’ve got one for Autobarn, Officeworks and Woollies, all the different places. That allows me to see exactly what I need to be buying when I’m at those locations so you never get home and forgot the milk, for instance. That’s only obviously a small part of the paper usage problem that we see in businesses all the time.
My Paper Gripe
We’re going to be talking about the big paper gripe, the gripe that you have with paper being everywhere. Now let’s have a think about your process.
Here’s something that annoys me and it annoys your customers.
I went to a mortgage broker and they presented me with a six-page form of stuff that I needed to fill out. I looked and I went, ‘Oh, man.’ What have they done, without me even knowing anything about them other than they’re a mortgage broker that I’ve been told is okay, they’ve presented me with this huge amount of stuff that I need to fill out.
A huge objection for me to want to work with him. I didn’t know if he’s any good. All I knew was I had to fill out all this stuff. I had to find out all these different financials and give them enough information that they would be able to steal my identity and screw me over, and I didn’t even know anything about them. That was a huge objection.
Do you know what I did? I didn’t go with that mortgage broker because I looked at that and went, ‘That is a massive hurdle.’ It bothered me because he sent the document digitally, but there was no ability to fill it out digitally. You had to print it out and then fill it out, and then scan it back in. That’s wasting paper and resources at my end, as well as having that other person at the other end have to rewrite that back in, decipher my shitty handwriting, and then put all those details in and then send it off to a bank for the bank to then decipher my shitty handwriting.
It’s a process that no one wants. It’s just a terribly wasteful process in all regards. For me to fill out six pages would probably take an hour, maybe an hour and a half. For me to find all the information might take me two hours. Three and a half hours! For them to decipher the information might take another hour and a half. Call this like five hours or six hours of time, plus any other times required by the banks. That is all overhead that shouldn’t be there.
As a business owner, I don’t want to be spending that time mucking around. My time’s valuable. The mortgage broker, for the most part, most mortgage brokers are business owners as well, and so they should understand the value of time. While they’ve got an amazing advantage over a lot of other business models in where they have a trail book, that means that they can use that to their advantage and try to automate the amount of time that they are spending to make that as valuable as possible, and don’t be putting in these roadblocks.
Plenty of services out there allow for bank statements to be able to come through automatically, do different lookups and find as many details as possible. The problem is that there was additional paperwork that could have been done with online forms and a lot more automation to save everyone time.
I still wouldn’t have filled it out because he hadn’t created the rapport with me first. He hadn’t gone through and described why I am an ideal client for him, and why he is an ideal mortgage broker for me. You need to really think about that.
When you’re trying to contact a customer, a big problem that people have is they try to marry you on the first date. You don’t want that. You don’t want to put in any objections, either.
If he gave me a small form to fill out, if it just said, ‘Type in your annual income, type in a couple of details such as your dependencies and this is roughly what you could be borrowing,’ awesome. No worries. It’s got me through the loop, made sure that I’m comfortably able to maybe do something here, and then you can get down to the nitty gritties and see if it’s actually a yes or a no later.
But having six pages is a huge objection and that will stop your people coming through. You want to make sure that you have people converting, and you want to make sure that you’re removing all objections through your sales funnel. Make it easy for people to work with you.
That is a huge problem we see in business all the time, and that’s just stemming from in this example, too much paperwork. I can’t give a shit about filling out paperwork.
If I was to be going to several banks, obviously I’d have to fill it out several times, and that’s very annoying. The whole open banking system that’s coming in is going to be something that will make this process a hell of a lot more straightforward for everyone. There are pros and cons to that which I’m not going to get into, but the major thing is if you are not removing objections for your customers, you will not get as many customers coming in the door.
We’ve covered off on two topics there. We’ve covered off on removing double data entry and repetition, as well as removing objections for your customers coming in the door. They’re both things that need to be addressed in businesses.
The next step is to make sure you document everything that you’ve got. I know I say it all the time, but we see it so often that people don’t. Regardless of what you think, if you decided to go out on your own and get your business all set up and you decided, ‘I’m going to be working, doing this, and doing this better than everyone else, going to earn more money’ or whatever the situation is, most of the time, and put your hand up if this is you, yes, I can see a few hands going up, most of the time you haven’t bought a business, you haven’t started a business, you’ve started a job.
You’ve started something that is just you. Now, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but the difference between starting a business and starting a job is the documented processes behind it.
If you document your processes, you’ve got something valuable to sell. If you document your processes, you’re able to have someone else come in and take over different parts that are giving you the shits or taking you too much time.
If you look at the simplicity of making a hamburger at home, if you documented that process and then you repeated that several times and then you optimise it, you’re no longer making a hamburger at home, which is a simple thing to do. You’ve turned making a hamburger at home into Mickey Ds. You’ve turned your small activity into a franchise that’s worth billions and billions of dollars. Simple, but powerful.
If you can’t document the process, it can’t be repeated accurately. If you can’t document the process, you can’t train someone else accurately. You need to document everything. If you start to document your processes now, your onboarding time will drop significantly. If you’re removing repetition, the amount of morale you’ll have within your customers’ and staff’s mindsets will increase. Everything will work better.
Documenting, removing repetition and removing objections are three main things that we see in business.
The Final Word
There are lots of ways to automate and if you’re unsure, reach out to someone who specialises in it. Business Efficiency Experts does a fantastic job at helping you empower you to use the tools to be able to automate your business. There are a lot of other companies out there that do similar things and we are definitely biassed towards this one, but all I’m going to say is have someone come in and do a review, a check and an audit. See where your business is at and try to get things as automated as possible.
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