The term “small-business system” refers to the computer systems employed by small businesses to conduct their day-to-day business, as well as their supporting software. A “business system” in a more general context may also refer to the series of integrated procedures that allow a business to function. Business systems also involve an infrastructure. For example, the computer business system has a physical infrastructure, whereas the supply-chain management system is more of a theoretical procedural system. Because customers form the core of any business, advertising is one of the most important theoretical procedural systems in a business.

Small-Business Computer Infrastructure

The success of small businesses, particularly those that work in the digital media field, is closely tied to the effectiveness of their computer and supporting software systems. When it comes to computers in business applications, the old axiom “don’t fix what isn’t broken” is not the best strategy. One of the best examples of why the saying does not hold true is the concept of multitasking. The older a computer system is, the more limited its memory and processing capabilities are. These limited capabilities prevent users from using the latest software suites and can even limit the productivity of individual employees.

Newer systems allow employees to get more creative in their problem solving approaches and make better use of their time, which is particularly important in a small business where a single staffer may hold multiple roles. For example, as of 2011 an employee with a newer computer system can video-conference while monitoring incoming emails and making meeting notes in a word processor. An older machine would start to slow or even crash when presented with the same tasks.

Small-Business Software Infrastructure

Poor software may be attributed to using outdated computer equipment, but software programs themselves are subject to obsolescence. Digital imaging software is a good example for justifying the expense of keeping computer software current. As most movie buffs know, the status quo is always improving for digital imaging in movies. A company using special effects software purchased in 2000 would produce special effects of inferior quality, relegating the company to less prestigious, lower-paying clients. Staying current in terms of software ensures that a small business is putting its best foot forward, which is all the more important when competing with larger firms.

Small-Business Advertising Procedures

The chief benchmark of analyzing a small business’s advertising procedures is the ratio of revenue earned to advertising expenditures. For smaller businesses, an attractive alternative to expensive ad campaigns is setting up a procedural system for generating word-of-mouth referrals. This procedural system requires extremely strong customer service that makes a positive impression the first time and every time the business interacts with customer. Offering customers an incentive to make word-of-mouth referrals, such as discounts on future purchases, creates a self-perpetuating advertising program that does not require much extra effort from the business. It also is suited to business models involving small, repeat purchases, such as specialty retailers.

Consultants to Analyze Procedural Systems

Each separate aspect of the business system must be approached from a different strategic viewpoint to fully analyze the overall systems used by a small business. This means that in most cases, more than one consulting expert is necessary. For example, an IT consultant may do a fine job of testing, upgrading and recommending the best technology solutions for a business, and that same IT consultant may even be willing to offer his recommendations regarding supply-chain management. However, the IT consultant would be less effective than a consultant who has direct supply chain experience. Breaking business system analysis into small themes and using several consultants can produce the best results for a small business. Using more than one expert consultant has the added perk of allowing small-business owners to get second opinions on gray-area matters, which in turn provides them with the best information to make critical decisions.