In my experience, systems are the last thing that are considered when starting a project or a new business. In fact, very often, entrepreneurs pack up all their documents such as invoices, expense vouchers and bank statements into a shoebox and send the box to their accountant or auditor once a year. Alternatively, they might suddenly search for these documents when a set of accounts needs to be prepared for their funder or the tax authorities. It is important to keep books of account up-to-date. Right now, I am more concerned about the attributes of all the various business systems you may choose to use. I am very mindful that in the initial stages of a business, cost control is of utmost importance and one cannot invest in all the ‘bells and whistles’ – as the saying goes; you don’t need a battleship to sink a rowboat. Having said that, I believe it is still very important to think about the purpose of having systems within the business and the attributes of a good system.

There are two important reasons to set up good systems within a business. Firstly, one needs to obtain information quickly. This allows the business owner to evaluate situations on the run and make decisions accordingly. Problems can be addressed immediately, thus avoiding unnecessary waste of money, and conversely, one can take advantage of opportunities which may arise. Secondly, there is the issue of governance – it is necessary to maintain an accurate record of the assets and liabilities of your business.

Quentin G McCullough