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How to build a small business infrastructure

  1. Business structure
    Business structure

    dblackhurst Contributor, Evolvit Free Member

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    Starting a small business can often be a Herculean task. In its teething stages, it is easy to get caught up in the daily issues of getting your business off the ground, instead of taking the time to build long lasting structural solutions. Neglecting to properly assess, tackle and solidify your business against future risk or growth only bodes for disorganisation and chaos.

    A strong business infrastructure is a vital tool to ensure the smooth management of daily operations and should act as an invaluable resource to develop and track the gradual growth and progression of your business.

    How infrastructure can contribute to business success

    To relate how setting up a business infrastructure will benefit your business, firstly, let’s discuss exactly what a business infrastructure is. Business infrastructure, much like the infrastructure of a building, should be the permanent framework on top of which your business is built. Done correctly it’ll provide you with a solid platform and replicable model for all processes and decisions relating to the operations of your business, ensuring a consistency of output, approach and service that will yield measurable results and manageable growth.

    Essentially, your infrastructure should be a series of structures that enable you to co-ordinate and manage all resources, functional tools and micro and macro processes that your business requires to run. By habitually following the procedures inherent in the model of your business infrastructure, your business will become more manageable, efficient and coherent.

    A solid business infrastructure should be viewed as your business road map, and should provide universal and guidelines for all your employees, and yourself, to follow. By pre-defining the goals or outcomes of your business - essentially, your target location - you can begin to build an infrastructure that will guide you there.

    The impetus when building an infrastructure for your small business is to pre-determine and set out strategies, processes and procedures for you, your employees and your business to follow to ensure that it fulfils its potential. Focusing on the three core areas of any business will ensure a strong framework is built no matter the industry, nor market.

    Organisational infrastructure

    A core problem with many new businesses is a vague or undefined organisational structure. As a new, or small, business with a low number of employees, developing a fixed structure may seem like less of a priority. However, creating structure by defining departments and establishing hierarchy can aid employees in understanding their roles and responsibilities and the expected output of each department.

    A by-product of establishing organisational structure is instituting a clear route for more problematic issues such as HR disputes, behavioural reprimands, and larger logistical and operational complications. Clarifying structure and implementing a strict set of processes and procedures for these issues to be reported and pass through, ensures they’re more likely to be dealt with quickly and without much secondary impact.

    IT infrastructure

    Regardless of whether you’re an ecommerce retailer or a door-to-door sales business, setting up an IT Infrastructure is essential to the operation of any modern business. Whilst developing an IT infrastructure is essentially part of your operational infrastructure, it also plays a crucial and overarching part of every business and deserves its own paragraph.

    An IT infrastructure is a large umbrella that encapsulates everything from the setup of your website, what domain you host on, to establishing the crux of your communications network. Investing in IT for your business needs to be one of the most carefully premeditated decisions you make. Each decision has the potential to drastically shape the future of your business, both in functionality and its adaptive growth potential.

    Consider both the macro and micro operations of your business when choosing the tools and technology to formulate your infrastructure, whether it is investing in a larger number of servers to ensure employee scalability, to providing creative software to meet the needs of your team, all decisions must be simultaneously aligned with the objectives of your business plan and the daily actions of your business.

    Ensure that standardised procedures in terms of training, troubleshooting and repair are enforced. Whilst quick workarounds may seem like an effective short-term solution, an entire team implementing idiosyncratic fixes builds an unstable network that not only threatens long term usage, but is always one pull away from unravelling completely.

    Operational infrastructure

    As with your organisational and IT infrastructures, the core thing to consider when implementing an operational infrastructure is long-term usability. Choosing strategies and tools that are malleable in terms of scalability and are adaptive to changing markets are necessary to a stable and durable business.

    Operational infrastructure, as its name suggests, encompasses the key functions of your business, whether it is consumer facing or internal.

    Differing between businesses, your operational strategies may cover anything from records management to specific sales processes, and will most likely overlap with your IT infrastructure. Standardising your procedures across your infrastructure, so they align with the same universal objectives, ensures there will be a consistency and coherence in your approach that guarantees return and longevity.