How Your SME Could Perform Like a Large Company

I have worked for small, medium and large businesses throughout my career and have found one fundamental difference between them. Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to each category, but I have found that one of the major differences is organisation. In order to run a large business you have to be organised. You need to have a structure and procedure for everything and everyone needs to be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. In a small company you do not necessarily need the same level of organisation. Also, structures and procedures are often overlooked. A lack of structures and procedures could mean that your business will not progress to the next level, or it could mean that you end up doing more work than necessary.

Larger companies have structures; everyone needs to know their duties and every person has a job description. If the company is run properly, all of the efforts from the staff will seamlessly join together to form one collective effort, even though some staff members may never actually talk to one another. Smaller businesses sometimes lack this organisation. They rely on various people performing various roles, and everyone communicating with each other, to get the job done. I have previously worked for a small company where everyone was copied into all of the emails, so that they all knew what was going on – talk about unnecessary work! The interesting thing was that more mistakes were made because everyone was addressing the same issues with different ideas… chaos! I didn’t stay there for very long. I have also been involved with smaller companies which have intended to grow. Every time it came down to one change – a mindset by the directors and one fundamental change. I’ll let you in on the secret.

A business structure and a system to manage it. That’s it. What do I mean by that? You need a game plan – who is doing what, who is responsible for what, and what is the procedure for getting it done? This needs to come from the top, but it doesn’t hurt to involve your staff in the process, as they are the ones doing the work and often have good ideas. Once you have the game plan, you need a system to make sure that the structure is kept, which usually takes the form of computer software. Now I guess you know that business software comes in two categories – either you pay a fortune for customised software, or you buy a standard package and fit your business into it. This often means that it can’t do exactly what you want. Many times I have been in the position where I’ve had to make this decision, and I have always made the same decision – I have created the software myself. Now, just to let you know, I do not know how to program software (not to that extent). Even if I did, I would need a whole team to program software for a business. So, how have I done this?

I did it in Microsoft Excel. Yes, Excel. I know that some of you are rolling your eyes back thinking that it is not possible, but it is. You see, Excel is actually a tool that allows you to program software. Spreadsheets are usually smaller in file size than programmed software, but that is just because Excel itself stores most of the files required. I have a brother, a brother-in-law, a father, and many friends who are all computer programmers and they have all told me about the similarities between Excel and programmed software. In fact, I have heard from some programmers that they have done some projects which could have been done in Excel at a much lower cost. So, why don’t people just use Excel instead of programming? Excel has limitations – usually when it comes to capacity. For example, if you have a table of data, when you are looking up 30 000 values, Excel will start to slow down, whereas programmed software would handle it in style. This is why larger companies pay the exorbitant prices for programmed software, as Excel would be out of its depth handling all of that data.

Now, with your SME, Excel is in its element. Using bespoke programmed software (when you are not exceeding Excel’s limitations) is like buying an 8 seater car, just so that you can drive around the city by yourself. You’re paying too much for capacity that you just don’t need. Excel can do much more than most people think, and it is ideal for creating custom software for small and medium businesses. This is why I started Spreadsheet Solutions – I have been doing this for years, at companies where I have worked. This is why I now do it as my own business. Not only do I create the software, but I also help you through the process of finalising your procedure, before working on the system. Please take a look at the rest of our website for some PDF brochures showing some examples, download some free spreadsheets, and have a look at some of the ways that your business could benefit from bespoke software. We even have some examples of problems that we have solved in the past. Why should the large companies have the benefit of bespoke software just because they can afford it? We create custom-made software which is affordable to everyone, as it is much cheaper (and quicker) to create with Excel.

I hope that this has helped you. Please contact us so that we can give your business the advantage.

Richard Sumner

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