Business processes for small businesses

Sometimes, bigger businesses have the advantage over smaller businesses, and sometimes it’s the other way round; each can learn from the other.

One of the things that I notice about working with smaller businesses who are growing into bigger businesses, is that they don’t have processes. They don’t have anything mapped out to tell people how to do things.

And as you grow, particularly when you have more than five people, or you have people who are in the same office as you, then this can be a problem. This great business idea is based on providing a solution for those companies.

It’s a great niche service business idea that might be the one for you.

This is a great business idea which is part of my New Business Ideas Collection.  If you’re looking for some new ideas for a great business, or want something to add to your existing business, take a trial for just £5 and look at a whole load of great businesses I’ve written up as recipes for you to try out.

How this great business idea works in practice

You might have worked in a bigger company, or you might just be a very organised person who can see how things should work. Your service is to go into growing smaller businesses with probably at least five people, but more likely 12 people and upwards, and help them to get very organised.

But you’re not going to be their office manager and do it all for them – that’s a different business idea.

As a small business process expert,  you go into a company and you map out their processes for them. You have a look at how they currently do things and you work out better, more efficient ways of doing those things.

For example, say you go into an events company, where everything is very busy, especially leading up to the event; you work out the best ways for doing the marketing for their events, signing up and getting paid for the exhibitors, a checklist for the venue, and instructions for all the people who are the greeters at the door, etc.

You might spend a couple of days working out how they currently do these things, and what the best ways of doing them would be.

You draw up lots of flowcharts, checklists, role descriptions, and maybe a Gantt chart or two. You train them on how to use all of this, and then you go away. For a while anyway.

You schedule in some time to go back to them, and see how they’re getting on. This is essential for two reasons: firstly, without your input they will go back to their own their old ways, and won’t be following your carefully drawn-out procedures. So it is in their interests to get you back to make sure that they do things the right way. Secondly, this is good for you, because you get to charge them more money.

You charge them an hourly rate for this, and you might add in another hourly rate which is for regular calls, updates or emergency callouts. You’ll probably go back to them about four times a year.

How much does this cost to get going?

This is another service business idea which you could start-up with just your LinkedIn profile and some nice business cards.

So it is a low-cost business idea to begin.

But to really get going and make sure that you’ve got enough customers, you will of course need a website – nothing special or outrageously expensive, but you should plan to recycle some of your first earnings into a decent one.

Or if you’ve got some money to start off with, it would be great to get this done around the time you start, and as websites always take a little bit of time to get together, you’ll have your first clients and some testimonials from them by the time that you’re uploading the first set of contents to the website.

Who is this good for?

This business idea is good for somebody who really understands how business processes work.

In particular, you have to understand how small businesses work.

In the past, I saw someone apply business processes from her experience at a very big company, and it just didn’t work in the tiny company that she was working in. She went into too much detail, and was too prescriptive, so nobody in the business wanted to do as she said. Learning from that experience, I think it would be fair to say that this business is suited to somebody who can be tactful and assertive, but not too bossy. You won’t get asked back regularly if you come across as bossy.

What skills will I need to be good at this business idea?

Obviously you will need to know about checklists, Gantt charts, and flowcharts, etc.

And you will need to know about modern ways of working, because your client companies will be relying on you to bring in very productive ideas such as online to-do lists, co-working tools such as Slack, and how to work with team members who are either permanently off-site in a different country perhaps, or are not in the office every day.

What’s the trick to making this business idea work?

I hope you spotted the trick to making this work. The trick is not to go in and just offer a one-off service and bill them for a couple of days, but to make yourself part of the team, so that you’re regularly coming back.

The other trick is about positioning yourself.

If your marketing says that you’re an organiser or an office manager, you won’t be able to get the big bucks. If you call yourself something like a process engineer or productivity consultant, that automatically makes you a higher end service, and something which you can charge more for.

Give this some thought; you don’t want to make the mistake of positioning yourself at too low a level when you first get going. Because it’s difficult to come back from that later on.

How much money would I make?

If it’s just you working in the business, I think that you could turnover probably around £35k. Remember that you won’t be billing every day, and a substantial amount of your time will be spent on marketing to get new customers in. Your expenses would be very low so most of this £35,000 would be pre-tax profit for you.

Great variations

Think about bringing other people into the business and helping you with this.

You might have somebody who you can team up with; you pay them a salary, and they do all the notetaking, process mapping and interviewing. This makes your life much easier, and you can handle more clients.

That would be the natural progression and the way that you can make the business more profitable. If you had a couple of helpers on board, you could raise your profit levels to around £50k pa.

Other things to remember

A quick note to remind you that you’ll probably need professional indemnity insurance to do this type of work, partly to cover yourself, and partly to reassure your clients, some of whom might ask for it.

Great business ideas – get them now

If you read this and thought “yeah, that’s a great business idea, but it’s not right for me,” then you should take a look at my library of great business ideas over at my New Business Ideas Collection.

I’ve written up “recipes” or “how to do this” guides to tons of great business ideas.

There are little sideline businesses, ones that can be scaled up (like this one) and some mega, make me a million type businesses.

I’ve put out this great business idea as a free sample to show how the New Business Ideas Collection works, so if you want to delve into more of these, you should definitely take out a trial subscription and have a look at some of the other great business ideas like this one that I’ve written up for you.

Here’s how it all works…

Some more words about small businesses: 

How small businesses can create a good workplace culture

Understanding your business environment

Photo credit – Processes by Jer Thorp


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It's not easy to find the right gap in the market for your next business. That's why I've written this free guide to how to identify a gap in the market, with lots of ideas for areas where you can build a viable business
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The Joy of Business
52 Ways to Find Your Gap in the Market
Julia Chanteray