Once a business begins to grow to the point where multiple people are involved in the process of delivering a product or service, things often begin to break down unless there are documented processes and systems in place for all internal and external activities. Processes help form habits which results in efficiency, consistency and improved customer service. Best of all, having systems and processes in place, frees business owners from day-to-day operational activities allowing them to spend more time on growth-oriented activities.
As a business owner, it is important to spend time building an organized and systemic approach to running your business. Creating operational systems early on will go a long way towards business growth. Following are five strategies to get started.
- Start sooner rather than later. Running a small-business means juggling many things and responding to the immediate needs of the day. In this constantly evolving environment it is easy to work in a reactive mode and just get things done. However, if you establish the steps and procedures for common tasks, you will be able to operate in more proactive mode. You will feel more in control of your business rather than your business controlling you. Don’t put documenting your process off to another day. Instead, take note of every procedure from the very beginning - or start today.
- Document everything. As you go through the daily work, take careful notes on the day-to-day processes. Take note on everything from how files are saved to how big decisions are made. If there are other people working in the business with you, have them also keep close records of how they manage tasks. It is always easier to edit and delete than try to fill in the blanks and remember exactly how certain procedures were handled.
- Be proactive. Anticipate problems and methodically create solutions. Identify areas of concern and meticulously develop a response system. Even when certain actions seem obvious, make a note of the steps and approaches. What is intuitive for one person may not be intuitive to someone else.
- Create an operations manual. Once all of the processes and procedures are recorded, have others review the material. Collaborate with a colleague or hire an outsider to develop a manual for communicating the company’s operations. Someone who is not in the thick of the process may have a clearer ability to convey the important ideas.
- Share it. Once the operations manual is created, sharing it with all employees and use it as the foundation of your training program. Put it on an internal website, or provide a hard copies of the manual. This will encourage people to refer and follow the established procedures and processes. guidelines. As updates are made to the materials, have alerts sent to the appropriate parties so that everyone is up to date.