Even the tiniest business has a responsibility to maintain accurate and adequate records. If you are a one man band working from the kitchen table then you will still need to keep track of your income for tax purposes, but if you are running a larger firm then you will need to have more information at your fingertips. This is particularly true if you have any staff on your payroll as you will be responsible for keeping track of their personal information, tax details and the history of their employment with you.
Even a tiny company will probably be involved in marketing and keeping thorough records of your promotional activities is vital to ascertain the effectiveness of any given campaign. Spending money on marketing your business is a waste of time unless you can see an increase in sales, so it is always best to try and make your marketing activity traceable. For example, if you decide to print fliers or conduct a direct marketing campaign, using a discount code or specific landing page will enable you to track the source of visitors to your website. As your marketing activity increases, you will need to keep detailed records of what you have done in order to analyse the results and ensure that you are using the most effective techniques.
Whether your focus is on online marketing through search engines, direct marketing through catalogues or mail outs or even word of mouth – if you can identify where your customers are coming from then you can concentrate your marketing efforts on the methods which are most effective for your business.
For businesses which deal directly with customers, managing their data effectively is vitally important. This may be as simple as a record of your customers' delivery details and information about their orders, or it may involve more complex records of your interactions including customer service contacts and any issues raised throughout your dealings with them.
You may also need systems in place to ensure that any sensitive data you may hold about your customers is suitably secure. Under the Data Protection Act, you have a duty to maintain accurate records and keep their personal information safe, so using CRM software for small business use could help you to comply with any legislation which applies to your business as well.
Build your business
Many people who are running small businesses are aiming to turn them into larger businesses and for this you need to maximise every interaction you have in the course of your working life. This could mean something as simple as up selling when you have a customer who could benefit from an accessory or complimentary product, or keeping in touch with them to offer replacements for any consumable items associated with their purchase. You may wish to keep a record of industry contacts, potential suppliers or future clients and any other people that you come across in the course of doing business. Maintaining an effective network of people that you come into contact with through your work could prove invaluable when it comes to recruitment, collaboration, partnerships and any other business activity.