While there are many variables in every business, there are also some essential processes and things every business needs in order to be successful. Among the most important are these five: a business plan, a bookkeeping system, a customer relations management system, a budget, and a piece of internet real estate. Let’s look at each one in a little more detail.
A business plan is essential because it is a roadmap to where you want to go and how you intend to get there. There are various levels of business plans. There are simple 5-page plans that simply describe your business, identify your mission and goals, provide a high-level view of your target audience and your marketing methods all the way up to a comprehensive business plan to be presented to investors including 5-year financial projections and intensive competitor analyses. If you have not taken the time and effort to put together a business plan, I strongly encourage you to do so.
A bookkeeping system is another essential business need that can be complex or simple depending on your business. At a minimum, you need an Excel spreadsheet or two to track all of your income and identify where it comes from and track all of your expenses. As you become more sophisticated, you will want a system. One of the small business standards is Quickbooks. The online version is affordable with a 30-day free trial. There are plenty of Quickbooks experts around who will help you with set-up and CPAs and tax accountants can usually transfer all of your information directly from Quickbooks making your tax process easier. Personally, I find Quickbooks difficult to navigate and I looked for a different option and found a free download, Manager.io, that does the job for me. But regardless of your system, you need to keep a record of your income and expenses on a regular basis.
Your customer relations management (CRM) system is one of the most important systems you can have in your business. One of the key elements of any business is a way to keep track of customers, prospects, partners, and your contacts with each one. You can use some of the features in your bookkeeping system to help you, you can have spreadsheets, or you can invest in a robust database system like Infusionsoft. I have found that spreadsheets and an email management system work for me. I use Aweber to divide my contacts into various categories so I can communicate with them differently and keep a record of who was contacted when and how. I can automate my messages, I can send newsletters, and I can see who opened, who shared, who clicked, etc. Other options are MailChimp, Constant Contact, Get Response, and others. Each has their pros and cons.
Maybe the Most Important Thing Every Business Needs
One of the most important things every business needs is the monthly budget. Yes, you need to have a budget for your business. At the beginning of the month, you need to have a projected income. Then you need to allocate that income to your expenses each month. You should always allocate some of your income every month to marketing and you should also keep some aside for taxes. By working with a budget, you’ll start to see where your money is coming from and where it goes and will be able to make better business decisions. It makes you more deliberate with your money.
And finally, every business needs a piece of internet real estate. For many businesses, a website or blog is ideal. For others, simply having a business fan page on Facebook or LinkedIn or an active Instagram or Pinterest profile is enough. But it’s the rare business today that can survive completely without any online presence. I believe having a presence online is so important, Mirelli members get free hosting for one domain name as a member benefit and I will even help get your first 5 pages of your website up and running and train you on how to maintain and market your website. Check out our membership options and benefits.
If you’ve got all five of these essential things in your business, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful business. If you are missing any one of them, take some time this week to do your research and start implementing some changes. Your business will reward you.