Small businesses are unique in many ways. As a small business owner or leader, you wear many hats. You're likely always juggling between day-to-day operations, strategy, HR, accounting and everything in between. You don't have the extensive resources or knowledge base as your multimillion-pound counterparts have, but unfortunately, you face many similar risks.
With big-picture topics like cybersecurity, cloud migration and digital transformation being front and centre in the media, it's easy to forget other critical business risks. But it's important to ensure you are protecting your business and not leaving yourself open to vulnerabilities. So, here are five major risks small businesses are faced with, and what you can do about them.
Risk 1: Lack of visibility
The main risk we see in small businesses is that employees only have access to their own email inbox. The problem is that in today's working world, lots of people work in teams and across lots of projects or clients, so it's not much use only having access to your own emails.
Why? Assume someone leaves your business next week. You now have no visibility over the current status of work or what agreements have been made as you don't have access to their inbox. Or if a member of staff goes on holiday, you won't be able to see project or client information until their return.
Nobody wants to purely rely on cc'ing colleagues or using an alias to ensure everyone on a team is in the loop. This causes email overload and can actually make email management and visibility worse in the long run as it makes it easier for critical information to be missed...
Risk 2: Poor productivity
Email is a proven workplace stressor and productivity drain, but it's also the most used internal and external communication tool in most businesses. Too often, fee-earners are wasting valuable time on clunky email archiving processes, or searching for information. Especially in smaller businesses with less staff, this is a huge inefficiency and drains productivity. We often see teams working unproductively as they don't have access to the right information when they need it. Or worse still, they're working from outdated information and will need to complete costly reworks down the line.
Risk 3: Poor collaboration
Following on from risk number 2, if your staff are relying on being copied into emails, it’s highly likely that they are acting off outdated information. Not only this, but it's probably the case that many other communications are going on with varying members of the team that, despite best intentions, not everyone has been privy to. Unfortunately, this usually results in decisions based on old data that can cause delays or duplications.
Making email communications and essential data more transparent to everyone dealing with a project or particular client will increase the firm's collaboration and ensure that everyone on the team has access to the most recent developments in real-time, so they will always be working from the same data.
Risk 4: Inability to find or retrieve information
When is the last time you lost an important document or email? Our guess is that the experience was stressful to say the least. It's not uncommon that you or your staff might spend hours or days looking for a specific email they've sent.
And more often than not, you don't realise how important an email is until something goes wrong. The power of documents and correspondence is unparalleled when it comes to protecting your business against a costly dispute, and can mean the difference between winning or losing a court of law.
Risk 5: Inability to protect yourself in a dispute
If you cannot find or retrieve project or client-related information, you cannot adequately protect yourself from disputes. In a report by Arcadis in 2020, they found that the average cost of global construction disputes was US$30 million, with the average dispute lasting around 15-months. The report also found that poorly drafted or incomplete, unsubstantiated claims were the number one cause of disputes in the industry.
In our own research, Mail Manager found that two-thirds of respondents experienced some form of legal dispute since the pandemic began, and of these, the information they needed to win disputes was evidence of correspondence, contract management and project information.
An easy way to protect your business
What if we told you that you can solve all five of these business risks with one simple tool? Mail Manager is the intelligent email management add-in for Outlook designed to help project and client-based businesses take control of their email. We work with businesses where email management affects their ability to manage claims, project disputes, and the productivity of their staff.
Our software is built with artificial intelligence and machine learning at its core, meaning we automate the admin-intense activity that is email filing, saving everyone in the business time, and reducing the risks associated with poor email management. Mail Manager can be installed overnight without an IT Manager, plus we follow your existing file structure meaning we don't host any data and your current processes can remain intact. All of this makes for strong audit trails, easy compliance with industry requirements or QA measures you strive towards, and complete document and records management within your organisation.
The importance of addressing email management
Ignoring email management problems in business is easy, but it means increased risk, poor productivity and low levels of collaboration. We understand that it can seem overwhelming to overhaul your business processes, so we've put together an eBook, "The Small Business Owner's Guide to Streamlining Processes and Increasing Productivity", to provide guidance.