So you can build a business that runs without you
PART ONE OF A THREE PART SERIES
By the BusinessLink team
|“Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. Significance comes when he developed leaders to do great things for him, but legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.” – John C. Maxwell|
During the start-up phase of a business, you are likely to be involved in almost every aspect. If it’s customer-facing, you’ll deal with customers every day. If it’s a software company, you’ll be writing code.
During this phase, effort will equal output. And you’ll see the rewards of your hard work in the results. But at some point, the challenge of taking care of everything will begin to wear you down.
If you are passionate about what you do, chances are that the business will grow, you will acquire more customers, and suddenly you will find yourself unable to be everywhere at once.
It’s at this point that entrepreneurs discover that hard work is simply not enough and they are not able to continue to run the business in this manner. That’s when it’s time to stop working in the business and start working on the business.
This is why business systems are critical. They enable the business owner to extricate themselves from mundane daily operations and delegate to employees. Systematising a business means putting in place processes and procedures that can be replicated and are not dependent on any single individual.
What are systems? A system is a set of processes that can run without you. As your business grows, you’ll need to build systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible. You’ll need to build distribution systems, inventory systems, marketing systems, customer support systems, research and development systems, accounting and hiring systems, and many others.
Systems are rules, policies, and procedures that trained individuals can repeat as your company grows and run independent of you.
Globally renowned business coach and author Brad Sugars, says that one of Action COACH’s 14 points of Culture is about systems: “I always look to the system for a solution.
If a challenge arises I use a system correction before I look for a people correction. I use a system solution in my innovation rather than a people solution. I follow the system exactly until a new system is introduced. I suggest system improvements at my first opportunity.”
Systems also enable you to set formal benchmarks in place by which to measure ongoing tasks. They allow you to be more objective when it comes to staff performance appraisals. it enables you to manage the promotion of employees and to expand your staff numbers more easily.
And of course, it means you can take a holiday without getting too stressed about what’s happening back at the office.
How to systematise a business
Unless a system is documented, it can’t be repeated properly. You may have a system that has developed over time and works well because the people who do it have been doing it that way for a long time. But if that process is not written down, how can you train others to create the same results?
Developing your own set of policies and procedures – creating systems – will help your business run more smoothly, whether you are there or not. The best way to implement systems is to create an operations manual. This will be particularly important when you start to hire staff.
You’ll want them to understand every detail of how you want the business run, from how customers are greeted when they come in the door, to what day of the month you order supplies from a vendor.
An operations manual maps out exactly how things get done in your business. Start with your company’s mission statement, the products and services it offers, and any goals or values about your business that you may wish to communicate to others. Include an organisational chart and job descriptions.
You may also want to focus on distinct areas:
• How-to procedures, such as how to open and close your office, store, warehouse or other physical locations
• Phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other ways to reach clients, vendors, suppliers, insurance companies, the security company and other important contacts
• Business-related policies, such as whether you issue refunds or accept payment by credit card
It’s clear that the operations manual is a tool kit for replicating your knowledge of your business and what you do on any given day. As your business grows, you may wish to have separate manuals for different departments or divisions.
Many businesses can be broken down into five main categories:
1) Organisation – everything that is involved in the day-to-day running of the business.
1) Marketing/Sales – how leads are generated, how they are followed up and how you handle customer service, for example.
2) People – include staff positions, job descriptions, staff records.
3) Technology – all the hardware and software that is required to keep your business up and running.
4) Capital – financial statements, budgets, profits and cash flow
You may want to add categories that make sense for your own specific type of business.
The process that we use at Admiral Business Systems when working with clients consists of five steps:
1) Determine the objectives you want to achieve
2) Analyze the current business processes in detail
3) Develop documented process manuals (Including tools, forms, flow charts, checklists etc)
4) Test and redesign the system
5) Test-run on the ground with the team and regularly evaluate
In the next two parts of the article, we shall look at how these steps are taken practically, so you can be able to develop systems for your own organization.
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