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How to build a sustainable team and grow your business

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Want to achieve your business goals? If you build a sustainable team, you can go a long way to succeeding.

Through my job, I have the privilege of working with a wide variety of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) founders and management teams.

The sheer volume of energetic entrepreneurs, visionary owners and hardworking managers that are able to identify new opportunities and build them into success stories never ceases to amaze me.

More often than not, business owners are driven by a real passion to change or do things better and therefore the majority of organisations this size target growth.

This is a positive trait for a number of reasons.

3 ways growth can help your business

1. Reach more people

Firstly, it’s about ensuring your mission reaches as many people as possible. What’s your ‘raison d’être’?

You might be a modest independent coffee shop with a single site; your customers love your blend as well as the culture of your business.

Turning a profit at one site can quickly fuel the desire to serve the same great coffee with the same environmentally supportive ethos to many more people.

Or you might be a healthcare provider with a small but highly motivated team all passionate about the quality of care that patients should receive – it’s in your DNA to want to provide that service to as many patients as you can.

2. Improve your finances

Secondly, it can bring financial prosperity.

Ambition can range from achieving the stability to sustain salaries and benefits for a team and reinvest in the business, right through to scaling a high-value asset that shareholders can leverage in future.

And in the early stages of growth, maintaining a positive cash flow is critical for sustainability.

3. Create opportunities

Thirdly, it ensures that opportunities are constantly developing for people in the business.

With growth comes the ability to train, to promote, to recruit, and to build a sense of personal achievement and career progression into the working life of all your staff, from a graduate trainee or part-time assistant through to director level.

For a thriving small business, the headache isn’t necessarily in winning new contracts but in quickly and smoothly scaling up to deliver that work.

When a business has developed a strong proposition for a clear market need, large contracts can often land suddenly and it’s imperative you have the people power to deliver on them.

Securing these projects can be the result of months, or even years, of tenacity and you don’t want a lack of proper resourcing to let you down once they’re secured.

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Dealing with barriers to business growth

I often speak with SMEs about how they can remove the barriers to business growth from a staffing perspective and grow their teams in a sustainable way.

To take that from idea to reality, there are a number of key challenges business owners and managers need to be aware of and plan for.

So, whatever your industry, the main ones will likely be:

  • Having fast access to a good pool of staff, ideally including a way of recording and referencing those who’ve successfully worked for you in the past
  • Knowing where your staff will need to be and when, and have a system to communicate in real time
  • Knowing you have the right balance of labour cost against projected revenue
  • Committing that you always pay your team members correctly, first time, every time, honouring the spirit and letter of your contracts.

Recipe to build a sustainable team

Positive employee engagement is vital to success: you have to enable your team to do their job to the best of their ability with clarity, transparency and trust.

In order to achieve this, here is the new recipe for success in 2020:

1. Treat your staff well – they are your engine for growth

At work, people want fair treatment, flexibility (the possibilities of which can vary depending on different roles), and potential for career development.

Take your staff on the journey with you by giving them the tools that help them have more transparency and control over their work lives.

For SMEs, the move to cloud technology brings the opportunity to keep a dispersed, flexible and sizeable workforce fully connected to work requirements, with fast answers to any questions they have.

Staff can know at the touch of a button when and where they are working and with whom.

Also, they are easily able to request changes, take on additional work (if available) and self-serve for most everyday work questions, all without having to bother their manager or HR.

Staff are your greatest advocates – if they enjoy the way they work and where they work, they’re not only more likely to stay but will bring the best version of themselves to work and elevate their performance.

Employee turnover can negatively impact any organisation’s performance and ultimately this hits the bottom line.

Happy employees stay longer, work harder and care more. And they attract others.

2. Automate processes to extract yourself from repetitive management tasks

Most entrepreneurs go into business to change the world, not to spend hours on invoice reconciliation and payslip issues.

Performing manual, repetitive tasks is very rarely the reason someone went into business.

Again, this is where there is a huge choice of technology reshaping the way teams and individuals are managed.

For example, by empowering your team to swap shifts between themselves, with updates made in real time on your system and on their phones.

Cloud-based software and mobile technology have dramatically transformed the level of administration those running businesses previously had to undertake.

Ease of use of today’s apps makes it much simpler to access, self-serve and have a much better user experience.

The result is owners and managers who can spend more time focused on doing what they do best, driving the growth and prosperity of their company.

3. Multiply efficiency by integrating the systems you use

The beauty of the cloud is the speed to value, ease of integration and use. You might be surprised either by the lack of integration of your current tools or by the fresh possibilities you’ve been unaware of.

New partnerships between technology providers are constantly being agreed.

Does your payroll software provider talk to your workforce management app and salary advance platform?

Is your sales data helping you to make decisions about who you need to employ, particularly at seasonal times of the year?

Many cloud-based apps connect easily and integrate seamlessly providing significant savings by reducing admin time, automating repetitive tasks and improving data accuracy (thereby eliminating errors).

This is made possible by different software providers linking up to create an ecosystem that you can tailor to your business needs.

Final thoughts on how to build a sustainable team

There are many factors causing uncertainty for SMEs at the moment.

From the unclear impact of Brexit and its effect on workforces and supply chains, to the fast approaching National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage increases, the implementation of IR35 legislation and the government’s upcoming Good Work Plan.

But there are sound methods of building a sustainable team that will hold you in good stead.

Many small businesses already have the passion but coupling that with smart processes will strengthen your position as an employer regardless of the political and economic headwinds.

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