Don’t let small business growth catch you off-guard.

Imagine that you have 10 email addresses. Each one is dedicated to a specific function at work, and you must check them all regularly to make sure there’s not a fire you need to extinguish right away.

Now imagine that you have one email address. You create categories in the software for each function at work, and you only have to check that one account.

Which sounds easier?

That’s what I thought. And that’s what enterprise resource planning, or ERP, can do for your business.

Small Business ERP: A Real Solution

It’s true that traditional ERP was designed for larger enterprises, but that doesn’t mean you should write them off. In fact, I advise many entrepreneurs to explore ERP, even during the start-up phase because it integrates everything about your business into one system: customer relationship management, operations, transportation, inventory, and more.

ERP provides real-time data that you can use to make small or large adjustments to your operation. Especially a few years into a business, you need that data if you hope to scale your company.

Get Compliant Now

The best ERP systems help you stay compliant with regulations and standards within your industry. For instance, the accounting modules will keep you in line with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) so you don’t make a serious accounting mistake.

Once you’ve been in business some time over 4 years lets say— you don’t need to spend time resolving conflicting information from siloed staff in your business. That can consume tremendous resources and derail your plans for growth. An ERP system can empower your entire team to stay informed with access to the important data, available anywhere.

This could also help prevent information bottlenecks, eventually.

Stimulate and Control Growth

If you’re putting off implementing an ERP solution until your business grows beyond your wildest dreams, I’m here to tell you that you’re making a mistake. In fact, it’s such a big mistake that you could wind up without a business at all.

Growth needs to be purposeful and forecasted. You don’t want to find yourself drowning because of unexpected growth. If you want your business to scale, you need an ERP system that will scale with you. Additionally, the software will help you grow your business intentionally and be comfortable with your business’ trajectory.

Stop Worrying About Cost

Sure, there was a time when only Fortune 500 companies could afford a state-of-the-art ERP system. Cloud-based technology has made ERP both affordable and necessary.

You can invest in an ERP system in several ways, including subscription models that divide the cost into smaller chunks. Until you conduct some research, don’t let the word “enterprise” scare you away from a software package that could revolutionize your business operations. It’s all about simplifying the way you do business.

I know that taking on new software can prove challenging and intimidating. I’ve done it myself. You’ll pick it up faster than you think.  Just make you to invest in training for all you need to use it. Don’t just use 10% of the software’s functionality. Your business can benefit from ERP features from day one, which means your business is likely to grow faster than you think.

Shopping for ERP

Find a Flexible Vendor: All software has primary features, but it’s going to be important to find a vendor who can customize specific functionality for your customer needs. They must be open to ‘tweaking’ the system to work precisely for your business operations.

Get industry references: Reach out to other business owners in your trade association to get references for what ERP vendors they may be using.

Inquire about their customer service: Do they offer 24/7 support? Will you have a dedicated customer service rep? Do sales reps often change? Should the company be sold do they have a plan for a seamless transition?

Continually invest in training. Attend the software maker’s annual user conference each year to learn about new enhancements, and get more training for your team especially any new staff.

Implementing this kind of software will be a big adjustment. Recognize that you’ll need to migrate from using multiple pieces of software for accounting, email, CRM, quotes, shipping or into one software system, and training everyone to use it properly. Look for a vendor that provide customization and training services to help make the transition more seamless. The complete migration process can take several months and will involved every employee in your company, but once the ERP system is running you will be able to focus on what you to do best, close more business.

Once you end up with an ERP system that meets all of your needs, with easy access to data and executive dashboards, you will be able make more intelligent and informed decisions about your business.

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