Written by: Daniel He, The Business Plan Company

Would you rather be working ON your business but find you’re working too hard IN your business? Every business owner experiences this, including the joys of rostering, scheduling, paying accounts, taxes, administration and hiring. As businesses grow, many owners struggle to build the system and processes that allow the business to scale. Often employees are seen as the only way to build capacity, but the costs associated can be prohibitive so the owner feels stuck.

Technology provides a valuable solution, with many new platforms popping up that you may not even be aware of.

Figuring out what could be automated, and what could be optimised is key to success, yet, most of us in small business are too busy to think about this, let alone implement it. There’s a classic case of the being too close to the business. Notice how your best ideas come to you when you’re away on holiday? (Or in the sauna?). Detachment and ideation go hand in hand, which is why I’m a big fan of spending time thinking about what to do, and then doing it.

In my last gig at Dresden Optics, an innovative eyewear company (Voted top 20 Westpac businesses of the Future), we started with 6 staff, a prototype of a product and a plan for strong growth. We saw early on that using scalable software was crucial to success, the ability to not only deal with the potential 10’s of thousands of customers, but also the hundreds of users on our end to make things happen.

One example was finding the right Patient Management and Point of Sale software. Out of the commercially available varieties, there were compromises, some were server based requiring regular backups to avoid bugs. If we used existing out-of-the box software, we could only grow as fast as the new features built by the owners. In the end we decided to build our own unique software. Yes, it was costly initially both in terms of time and resources invested, but the payoff was huge. This cloud-based platform is now implemented across online, all bricks and mortar stores, multiple countries in different time zones and connects to useful services such as Vend, mailchimp, tyro, and acts as a stable conduit for these services.

While you may not choose a custom software solution, there are some ready-made options out there that are useful for small business. The idea is to find the right fit to help you grow and run your business, and save you time. Most of these have a trial period, and have been chosen to save you time, make you money, or bring in new customers.

Here are some out-of-the-box solutions that may be useful. Most of these apps are cross-integrated ensuring seamless information transfer between apps and hardware.

  1. Slack - team communication. It’s like WhatsApp, but for business. Access different topics / channels, connect social media feeds, upload photos, celebrate wins with the team!
  2. Tyro - point of sale. Still using a bank terminal? Try Tyro, which connects to all your cloud-based POS software. Can also utilise Afterpay (layby).
  3. Deputy - sort out staff rostering in no time. Don’t be put off that it’s used by big end of town (like Qantas). Top feature: location-based check-in to clock your time. Converts figures to accounting software like Xero.
  4. Xero - cloud-based accounting software. Top feature - can generate invoices with a click. Can connect with your POS, and staff rostering software for ease of integration.
  5. Mailchimp - convert your subscribers to email and ad marketing.
  6. Canva - create beautiful presentations, designs, business cards and pitch decks to impress your customers

So next time you are feeling increasingly closed in by your business, with not enough time or enough cash to afford a new team member, seriously start considering what technology can do for your business. There is software for pretty much every industry and, when up and running, can set you free to grow.