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The 8 business areas you need to systemize so you can scale

July 6, 2022

The domination of Joey Chestnut continues — he conquered the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 15th time, beating the competition by a cool 20-dog margin. No biggie.

In this week’s edition:

  • Preparing your small business for a cyberattack.
  • Systematizing these eight areas of your business so you can scale. 
  • Supporting your team when the news is bad. 
  • Figuring out if your SMB’s training program actually works.

CYBERSECURITY BEWARE

Most U.S.-based SMBs aren’t ready for a cyberattack. Here’s how they can prepare.

No one would launch a cyberattack on my little SMB… right?
Most small business owners tend to think that way. In a recent small business survey from CNBC, only 5% of American SMB owners reported cybersecurity as the biggest risk to their business (ranking as the lowest priority in a list that also includes supply chain disruptions, COVID-19, and inflation).

So I’m probably good!
Not so fast. The consensus amongst SMB owners is very different from the thoughts of the American public. According to a poll done by SurveyMonkey, 76% of Americans believe that U.S. businesses will experience a major cyberattack in the next year. And what’s even worse — over half of Americans stated that they’re less likely to do business with companies that fall victim to a cyberattack.

A man shaking his head and saying, "That's not good."

So even though small business owners don’t see cyberattacks as a major concern, it’s best to be prepared for worst-case scenarios.

Okay, so what can I do?
There are a few steps that small businesses can take to beef up their cybersecurity. Start by strengthening your passwords and backing up all your files on an external hard drive. You should also consider installing antivirus or malware protection software, and enabling automatic updates as well as multi-factor authentication. Another option is obtaining a virtual private network (VPN) which encrypts your internet traffic to protect your online identity.

Admittedly, the last few options include monetary costs that will contribute to your business’s overhead. But you’re paying for both cybersecurity and peace of mind.


SCALE YEAH

Want to start scaling? Systemize these 8 business areas. 

A man with a lever controlling a rising graph, superimposed over cacti.

My business is ready to scale, but I’m juggling too much right now.
You can’t do everything yourself. At least, not if you want to scale your business with your sanity intact. You’re going to need to free yourself from some of the tasks that come with running an SMB so you can concentrate your efforts on “big picture” initiatives that fuel growth. That’s where “systemizing” comes into play, AKA organizing steps and processes according to a specific plan.

Alright, I’m listening.
Great. Adi Klevitt, leader of the Business Consultant Group, uses her experience as a trained industrial engineer, management consultant, and business executive to successfully help organizations and companies of any size dramatically improve their efficiency and performance. She says that growing your business and taking it to the next level can be done sustainably — or chaotically. “Often, a business that has grown without putting systems in place will be wildly inconsistent with their success — and that can be discouraging to everyone involved in the company.”

She says that there are eight areas a business needs to systematize in order to scale sustainably.

1. Sales.
You can systematize almost every aspect of sales. Prospects should be put into customized sales funnels to ensure their questions are addressed, they’re qualified to purchase the goods or services offered, and then sold the product or service. This type of systematization must be documented and connected to a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and any other systems used to ensure every step is tracked.

2. Human resources.
Hiring, managing employee complaints, firing, mediation, and any other actions that fall under human resources (HR) must be systematized. Not only do you need to guarantee that the same actions are taken for every employee to ensure fairness, but implementing systems in HR will help your company avoid legal trouble.

👉 Check out the other six areas.


LISTEN UP

Banner saying "Organize Chaos" before zooming into a man speaking.

Have you subscribed to Organize Chaos yet? All the cool SMB leaders are doing it. Every weekday, Trainual’s Founder and CEO Chris Ronzio shares entrepreneurial and small business leadership advice in lip-smacking, bite-sized episodes. And on Fridays, you can look forward to in-depth interviews with SMB thought leaders and inspirational drivers of change — like Adam Posner, founder and president of NHP Talent group, who provided great insights on how small businesses should think about their employee talent acquisition strategy. Wait, are you still sitting this out? Subscribe now!


TERRIBLE TWOS

When the news is terrible, your team needs you

Ish happens.
And it’s all around us: on TV, on social media, in day-to-day conversations — inevitably seeping into our daily lives (even at work). We might feel angry, sad, or completely distracted when trying to carry out our daily responsibilities.

After all, we’re not robots. We’re going to experience a whirlwind of emotions after learning devastating news — whether it directly impacts us or not.

There’s nothing I can do about it.
We can feel helpless to the seemingly out-of-control outside world. But we can help team members cope just a little better when things are just plain terrible.

Here are five ways you can support your team:

1. Speak up.
It might be tempting to pretend that everything is business as usual. Work distractions will sufficiently keep everyone’s minds off what’s going on, right? (Wrong.)

Staying silent in the midst of detrimental current events will lead your team to think you don’t know or you don’t care. Either way, it’s not a great look.

A man saying, "I wanna hear it."

You might not know exactly what to do or say, but be sure to outline a path forward for your team members and your company as a whole. This might look like offering extra PTO or sharing helpful resources and policies for support.

2. Create a safe space for underrepresented groups.
Unfortunately, many tragedies affect underrepresented groups. Those who identify with these groups may feel that they, their families, or their communities are unsafe. And yeah — that’s gonna make it hard to work.

So before crises happen, create a safe space for conversations. When your team members are comfortable telling you they’re not doing well, it makes supporting them so much easier. A great place to start is launching an affinity group.

👉 Learn all five ways.


TRAINING DAY

Is your new hire training working? Let’s find out.

"TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS for new hires" above an extended measuring tape.

We get it, onboarding is important.
The employee onboarding process is a crucial stage in your new hires’ journeys, one that will equip them with the knowledge and skills required to excel in their roles. But it’s not enough to just have one — with all the time and money you put into your new hire’s training, you want to know that it’s actually effective.

You’re right — so how do I actually know it’s working?
There are some obvious signs that your training is still a work in progress. Watch out for red flags like constantly confused employees, woefully inefficient processes, and the worst-case scenario: unhappy customers.

A lot of times, it’s not immediately apparent that training is ineffective. In those cases, you’ll need a comprehensive system of checks and balances that you can utilize to get a clearer picture.

Welcome to the four levels of training evaluation.
Donald Kirkpatrick, president of the American Society for Training and Development, lays out this system in his book “Evaluating Training Programs.” Here are his four levels of training evaluation:

  1. Reaction. Observe your new hires’ reactions to their training and respond to any feedback they can give for improvement.
  2. Learning. You need an evaluation method to test that your training is sticking — written assessments, interviews, or good old fashioned multiple-choice tests are good options. (Top tip: You can use Trainual to see your team’s training status at a glance. Plus, Trainual will also surface which training might be stumping your employees, giving you clear insights into their performance metrics that you can revamp as you go along.)
  3. Behavior. Check and see if your new hires are using their new skills out in the wild. Assign a supervisor or manager to complete a behavior analysis.

👉 Find out the fourth level.


TL;DR

This week’s highlight reel

  • No BS. As in, “bad sheets.” Because someone created 10 SMB-savvy Google Sheets templates that your business can use for sales, marketing, and customer service so that  you don’t have to. 
  • She doesn’t even go here.” In another win for nostalgia marketing, Allbirds tapped Cady Heron (AKA Lindsay Lohan) to head up its running shoe campaign complete with all the pink and “Plastics” references you can handle. 
  • Reddit or not. Tired of querying Google only to get a first page of cookie-cutter (and generally unhelpful) results? You’re not alone. Google’s search-engine decay is definitely a thing, so people are appending the word “reddit” to the end of their queries for more targeted and “human” (versus SEO-fueled) results. 
  • The “It” factor. Taco Bell’s making dreams come true. The after-party drive-thru destination partnered with Cheez-It to create tostadas and Crunchwrap Supremes using giant versions of the cheesy snack cracker. Your move, McD’s.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Here’s what else is on The Manual’s mind

Been busy at the grill this weekend? We got you. Here’s what you might have missed last week:

  • Want an LMS for less? Small businesses have a better experience with LMS alternatives. Learn more.
  • Pride month is over. But small business’ allyship with the LGBTQ+ community isn’t. Learn how to build a consciously inclusive workplace from Steve Yacovelli — AKA, The Gay Leadership Dude. Watch now
  • Trainual glow-up. With the new top navigation menu, you can invite people, add roles, and now create content from any page in the app. Check it out.

Organize the chaos
of your small business