Starting a business is a challenge in any country at the best of times, but in New Zealand and Australia it has been especially difficult over the last couple of years.
The impact of Covid-19 and the restrictions that came with it created a major hurdle for many start-ups to overcome, which considering they were already struggling to establish themselves in the marketplace, proved a bridge too far for a significant number of them.
Now the pandemic seems to be a thing of the past, 2023 provides an opportunity to start afresh and redefine the way your company conducts its activities.
With that in mind, allow us to present some ideas of how you can streamline your business operations to help you meet your strategic business and marketing goals.
What challenges do start-up companies face?
Even taking aside Covid-19, antipodean start-up businesses must contend with several factors that make creating a successful and sustainable business that much harder.
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For a start Australia and New Zealand have relatively high costs of living compared to other countries. This can make it challenging for start-ups to attract and retain talent, as well as for entrepreneurs to support themselves while they build their business.
In addition, New Zealand has a very small population and Australia’s isn’t big in global terms, which means that the market for many products and services in both is limited. This can make it very hard for start-ups to scale and achieve long term sustainability and profitability.
Both country’s geographical isolation from many of the world’s major markets doesn’t help either, especially when it comes to expanding their customer base. While their limited funding opportunities, as compared to other countries and complex regulatory environments, particularly for industries like healthcare and finance, can be problematic too.
Despite these challenges, New Zealand, and for that matter Australia, does have a thriving start-up culture, boasting some successful companies that have gone on to achieve global success.
Rocket Lab, LanzaTech and Xero are three notable New Zealand examples that have gone on to global success in the tech industry. While Canva and Afterpay are Aussie start-ups that have hit the big time internationally too.
Why do start-ups fail?
According to the University of Melbourne, an astonishing 97% of start-ups in Australia either cease trading or fail to grow. It’s a similar story in New Zealand too.
So why does this happen? Well, there are several reasons for this lack of success. The most common being operating without a business plan, a lack of market demand for your products or services, poor cash-flow management, failure to adapt to changing market conditions and not streamlining their processes quickly enough.
This might sound foreboding, but with the right combination of vision, innovation, determination, and support, start-ups can overcome these challenges and gain a firmer footing on the business landscape.
Why is it important to streamline business operations?
To give them the best chance to survive, and thrive, streamlining your business operations and model are crucial factors for the success of a start-up company.
Foremostly, it helps to reduce costs. Start-ups typically have limited resources, so streamlining business operations can help reduce costs across the board, which can be reinvested into other areas for growth.
It also increases productivity by reducing the time and effort required to complete certain tasks. This can help the business to deliver products or services more quickly and effectively, improving the customer experience and enhancing the overall reputation of the business.
Another thing streamlining business operations can do is help you make better decisions, as it provides you with a clearer picture of how the business is performing. This is particularly the case if you standardise and automate processes, as doing this generates data that can be used to analyse overall performance and identify trends.
Additionally, you can gain a decent competitive advantage and it could also provide you with the capability of scaling your business.
How to streamline your business operations
So how do you go about streamlining your business operations? Well, here are some steps you can take to enhance your processes to sleeker levels.
Identify and prioritise key business processes
Start by identifying the most critical business processes that are key to the success of the company. These could include sales, marketing, product development, customer service, and finance. Prioritise the processes that have the most significant impact on the company’s bottom line.
Map out each process
Once you have identified the key processes, map out each one step-by-step. This will help you identify areas where processes can be improved, streamlined or automated.
Eliminate non-essential tasks
Identify non-essential tasks that can be eliminated to streamline the process. This could include doing away with redundant or unnecessary steps, automating repetitive tasks, or outsourcing certain functions.
Having identified and modified them, you should then standardise your business processes to ensure that they are consistent across the organisation. This will help to minimise errors and ensure that everyone is working from the same page.
Where possible, automate processes using technology such as software tools or platforms. This can save a significant amount of time, reduce errors, and improve your company’s level of efficiency. Some functions that can be automated in your business include data entry and processing, customer service and support, sales and marketing, accounting and finance, and both supply chain and project management.
Improve your payment processes
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any start-up business. Without it, your operation simply won’t be able to survive. While it is nice to accept several forms of payment including cheques and 30-day invoicing, one of the best ways to streamline your business operation is to move to a system like Smartpay.
Not only will this accept payments in an efficient and secure manner, it will settle all transactions on the next business day and thus help with your cash flow.
Measure and monitor performance
Once you have streamlined your processes, measure and monitor their performance on a regular basis to identify further areas that need improvement. This will help you continue to refine and improve your operations over time.
For any start-up business in New Zealand or Australia, streamlining your operations is something that should be a regular focus.
Although it requires a methodical approach to identifying, analysing, and optimising your entire business processes, it is one of the most important exercises you can do.
By following the steps outlined above, a start-up can create a more efficient and effective operation. This in turn can help to increase profitability and sustainability and assist them to, not just compete, but also to succeed in the national and global marketplace.