When it comes to products and services….and blogs, and advice and people offering various magic bullets business has to be one of the most overcrowded sectors there is. There is one simple reason for this; everyone who runs a business wants and needs it to work. So off the back of this basal need comes a million and one people offering a billion and one ways to make it happen. To say the business world is a noisy place when it comes to people trying to sell you something would be a huge understatement.
That being said there are a few services or types of business support that every business needs to get organised. This can be in house or, what is more often the case, outsourced to skilled people or teams. Yes, there are more than three useful business services but without these three many of the others will be wasted because the bottom line is not covered.
Operations & Processes
With the exception of a very small number of companies it is fair to say that every business has processes that are not as efficient as they could be. This might be down to time or the classic “that’s the way we have always done it”, it may also simply be down to a lack of skill or ability of the person running that process of effect change. The reasons are many and not relevant as far as this point is concerned.
The bottom line is that mapping, improving, recording and managing processes can turn a good business into a great one and a failing business into something viable. It is that simple. Even if you think all your processes are top notch having an ops professional look at them will show weaknesses that can be fixed. Even a seemingly simple process of mapping and recording all processes and creating a business manual can make a massive difference to the efficiency of staff both new and old.
As with recruitment finding a local but well thought of company is useful. If someone has to travel 200 miles to come and spend a day in the office it’s not ideal. These people or individual needs to really get under the skin of your business. What is not so important is familiarity with the sector. There is some who would say not knowing the industry allows ops experts to come in and learn and if you can’t explain a process to them easily it is not as sharp as it could be!
There are a wide range of companies offering this kind of service; many offer it as just one of many services, others like www.opsangel.com are highly focused. There is little doubt the full force of a small focused company is likely to yield better results as they can really become part of the business they are working on and not just a visitor.
Anyone who has run or worked at management level in a business will wince at seeing this word. A good 4 out of every 6 cold calls into any business will be from a recruiter trying to sell their candidates. These calls can be speculative or off the back of a job advert posted all of 3 seconds before. Quite often they have not taken any time to learn anything about your business and so waste their time and yours.
However, recruitment is a critical part of business success. Without the right team success is highly unlikely. So it leaves businesses in somewhat of a wasteland. They do not want to deal with all the recruiters calling in but they do want good staff. This is where recruitment becomes a business support service that managers and owners should take control of and go out and choose.
Rather than simply going with the one person who cold called you and didn’t annoy you it should be a key tactic to actively seek the very best recruiter possible in the designated sector. Use word of mouth, use the internet and take the hones away from the cold callers. Invite the shortlisted agencies in and work out a suitable rate. Then set them to task for you. They will work far better if they feel it is a long term arrangement so really bring them into the business. The candidates they offer will be better because they understand the business more and this means better staff!
The big names are not always the best names, niche agencies can really work well for example http://hanrec.com/. Look locally and look for a company that knows your sector.
This one is probably going to cause most business owners’ groan even more than the word recruitment but like it or not marketing is everything. Marketing is not just about adverts, it’s reviews, reputation, it’s PR, it’s social media; it is basically every single route to market a business has.
The problem with marketing is that everyone thinks they can do it and for many businesses this means someone gets the job as part of something else they are meant to be doing. This results is failed attempts to master things like Google Ad Words and wasted money. It can also mean a confused message to potential customers because the people looking after it are all working on their own things. Having an internal marketing team is, of course, the best way to do it but only if they are good. This then, comes back to recruitment. If the marketing person or team are handpicked and have the right skills then things should go well. But for a lot of businesses the budget simply isn’t there to afford in house people or they do not sufficiently understand marketing to recruit someone in the first place.
As a business support service good quality freelance or agency marketing services are essential. Again….look locally. As a business you want to be the biggest client not the smallest so if you find an agency who deals with lots of bigger brands than you; don’t be impressed be put off. You will never get the level of service they do because you are not paying the same amount of money. By being a key client with a smaller organisation you will get the very best service they can offer. Look for people who can report their work, justify their work and not shy away from frank conversations about ROI by shoving stats under your nose. There are freelancers and small agencies everywhere just like www.427marketing.co.uk. If you are part of a large organisation then look to places like Brighton for cutting edge marketers that also have a big enough team to cope with your needs.