Lesley Beagley is the Admin Guru and CRM Queen. She runs an online course for small business owners to learn some of the techniques she uses to help her Admin Consultancy clients to streamline their admin processes and free up time for the important stuff. You can download her free INSIDER SECRETS report as www.SmallBizAdmin-sorted.co.uk
When you are just starting out in business there’s a LOT to think about!
Assuming your product or service is already clearly defined, you still have to work out your marketing strategy, get your branding designed, set up a website perhaps, get some stationary printed (using GoodPrint of course!), register your business, find an accountant… the list seems almost endless!
And the chances are a lot of your attention will be on getting started with promoting your business and finding those first few crucial customers.
And there’s no doubt about it, getting (and keeping) customers is probably the single most important aspect to growing a business.
Time and time again as a professional Admin Consultant I see small business owners, perhaps just a year or two into their business, struggling to stay on top of all they have to do.
They often started their business so they could be their own boss and have the freedom to spend time with their families and in leisure pursuits, but find themselves working evenings and weekends and feeling stressed and burnt out before their working week even begins!
Usually this is because they start out just doing what they do and muddling through with keeping things in their heads, and that was fine when they had only one or two customers, but as the marketing kicks in and they get busier in doing whatever it is they do, one of the first things to go is their admin, and that includes the follow up of new leads and the building of customer relationships.
And it only gets worse. As you get busier and busier, more and more will fall through the cracks unless you have some processes and systems in place that allow you to stay on top.
By setting up some basic systems and processes BEFORE you need them you can avoid many of these problems. One of the most essential systems, in my opinion is a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system.
This is NOT a CRM
Trouble is, there are thousands of them out there, and they range in price from just a few pounds per user per month to several thousands of pounds. So where do you start?
Here are six things to think about when deciding on a CRM
1. Think ahead of where you PLAN to be, rather than where you are right now Choose your CRM system that will grow with you. Or at least make sure that you will be able to export ALL of your data – including contact history – should you need to move on in the future
2. Consider how the CRM you are reviewing will work with other systems
Will it, for example, share data easily with an accounting package or a newsletter system or online shopping cart? Integration is the watchword here!
3. Think about how you could share your CRM with someone else – without sharing your computer.
Perhaps you need to opt for a ‘cloud’ based solution. This is all about Delegation – you may be on your own now, but at some point you will need another pair of hands!
4. Is it customizable?
Can you add custom fields for data that is important in your particular business?
5. Can you easily maintain a record of all your interactions with a customer
For example, does it integrate with your email system, or can you send emails into it and attach documents if needed?
6. Can you set up automated workflows and tasks to ensure you can duplicate a process for following up with leads and customers?
This isn’t the whole story, of course, and my best advice is to review several systems, download free trials where they are available, upload some test data and really put a system through its paces before committing. It may take a bit of an investment of time, but it will save you much time and heartache in the future!
Do it now, before you get too busy!