There will be many things in your life that cause you concern and worry; some you can control and some you cannot. Therefore, it is important to make sure that everything you do works or at the very least is in a phase that will allow it to work when implemented.
Look at an airplane: how often does it get serviced? How often does the fuel system get checked? Are the brakes working? Do the flaps move correctly according to the input controls used by the pilot? One might consider that an airplane is bound to have issues on a regular basis simply because of its size and complexity. How safe is it really?
The question has often come into my mind when I have had to take a plane somewhere and I sit in my seat and feel myself gripping the handles just a little bit tighter as the cabin begins to rumble and the sound of the engine roars to life, lifting the massive body and all aboard into the lofty skies above. I’m taking a one-hour trip to somewhere like Sydney for work, yet on some flights I feel like I have had to put my life on the line to do so.
This is exactly how I feel about business, or more precisely, new business ideas and ventures. I know the work is right. I know that the plans and procedures are in place to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Yet when the time comes, I still feel that slight rise in adrenalin and anxiety like I do when I fly.
The difference is that you are responsible for making sure that you have checked and double checked all the elements that go into launching your business. If it’s your business, don’t leave it in the hands of someone else. Get out and get dirty. Make sure that things are in the right order, that suppliers are in place, manufacturing is ready and operational, and most of all that your plan is following the course you have set.
If any one of the elements of a business is faulty and in need of attention, it could mean the difference between a successful take-off or a spectacular crash that might see everything around you go up in flames.
Not to be a buzzkill, but just like a 747, your business has to have a strong maintenance plan and team that can service the areas that need attention, especially when starting out. This is where most of the problems will arise and it is your job, along with the people you hire, to make sure things run smoothly.
Now this may be a bit contradictory to other parts in this book, but don’t be in too much of a rush to get going. Factor in the things that make the business run and work effectively to ensure they are operations and effective as best as they can possibly be.
Here are some ideas to help with the maintenance and preparation of your business. These are very similar to what you may do should you own a 747 but I think they work just as well for businesses.
There are two main critical functional models of maintenance – preventive maintenance and requirement-based maintenance. In Preventive Maintenance, some extra steps are usually taken to protect the business from snags that could possibly occur in future, like procedural inspection to foresee and rectify processes that could possibly create problems in the future.
Requirement Based Maintenance involves rectifying the problem as and when it occurs, i.e., it is requirement specific. It usually involves critical activities, so instructions are usually prepared proactively for many foreseen problems to ensure minimum time wastage during its occurrence.
Process and Procedure Testing is a critical operational activity that management and staff should perform. Every part, like website, marketing posters, brochures and store appearance, is inspected and immediately replaced or improved if found problematic.
Testing procedures are usually repetitive, complex and meticulously designed. These procedures are divided into certain levels depending upon the kind of maintenance your business needs. Under normal conditions, an business should be inspected or have an internal Audit every 6 months in my opinion, even more often in some cases. Many experts suggest getting a thorough Audit done every 12 months but it really depends.
Taking Client satisfaction into account, Business Maintenance has never been considered as an ordinary daily activity. This is because many businesses seem to run smoothly and show no signs of problems, until it’s to late. Doing a few checks and balances on your processes and procedures can often help resolve an issue that may not seem problematic but may turn into one if nothing I done about it.
One quick addition to this point I want to make, considering that we live in a digital world is the importance of maintenance of your website. It is an absolute necessity to keep it fresh for visitors. Maintaining your website means updating it with fresh content, great images and stories, keeping it free from errors and maintaining a high position in search engines. Your goal is to keep them on your site for as long as you can. This is where updated and interesting content is king.
Once your site is live, you may need some to keep it updated. Sometimes it is a simple change, like changing a date, or adding a new section or some other modifications. It may seem tiresome to do but rest assured updated content is always more interesting to a customer than old worn-out stories. It is much like going into a waiting room and seeing piles of old worn out magazines sitting there. Torn, battered and in need of recycling. It’s not inviting to the customer. Yes, they may flick through but that’s because they have nothing else to do. Sadly, for a Digital presence it’s as simple as going to another website.
Web maintenance services by a third party can substantially reduce your costs by eliminating the need to hire full time web design professionals or programmers.
Their services often include-
1. Keeping your site up-to-date: search engines will more regularly spider your site, if the content is continuously updated. Adding a new article in every week may solve the problem. Other updating involves changing information regarding products, services, prices-which will keep your visitors informed.
2. Checking for broken links: Broken links upset visitors, making them click elsewhere. You will lose potential customers, if they are not checked properly.
3. Managing your site: With the help of new technologies, a vendor can make changes that will improve your site’s performance. New innovative features must be added from to time.
4. Re-structuring your site: Using your site access statistics like the number of visitors visited daily, what they really want from your site, a vendor/third party can help you re-structure your site contents for increased business.
5. Writing correct and clean HTML code: HTML errors can negatively affect your search engine rankings.
Depending on the frequency, you need to update your site; you can make a contract with a vendor. For small business owners, who occasionally need a vendor, pay-as-you-go is a perfect way to work this into your budgets. You can pay them hourly, weekly, monthly or yearly-as per your workload.
There are plenty of companies out there offering this service so get online and have a look.
Ok, you can go now.
Gaven Ferguson is a regular guy whose career has spanned over 30 years in a variety of industries. He is currently the President of the World Association of Master Chefs and owner of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Accreditation Program. Most recently he released his first book titled: The Business Procrastinator, on Amazon. He still can’t believe it’s finished