One of the most common reasons I come across for business owners not wanting to let go of the day-to-day running of their business is that they don’t think anyone can do it like they do.
Let’s face it, you’ve built a business from scratch. All your clients know you, your suppliers trust you and you know what needs to be done to keep everyone happy.
The problem is that if you need to be working ‘in’ your business you can’t work ‘on’ your business and if you’re not working ‘on’ your business you’re probably not going to grow to your full potential.
Now you may say “I don’t want to grow to be too large” you may just want your business to provide you and your family with a comfortable life – and that’s fine. But what happens if you’re not there? What would happen if you couldn’t be there? Or what would happen if you wanted to do something else one day other than having to ‘go to work’?
Some years ago, I read the book The E Myth Revisited, written by Michael Gerber. Gerber talks about the fact that most small businesses fail because they are run by a technician – someone who predominantly works ‘in’ the business, doing what they’ve always done for someone else but now working for themselves.
The author goes on to point out that although the idea of working for yourself is very liberating, the cold hard facts are that if you don’t manage your business and you’re not entrepreneurial in the way that you operate, your ‘job’ becomes the worst job in the world because you can’t leave – you have nowhere to go.
I work with business owners to focus ‘on’ their business, treating it like a prototype, creating a structure and systems that mean the business runs like clockwork – even when they’re not there.
This process culminates in the creation of an Operations Manual for their business which contains an outline and description of each role, the responsibilities of the person occupying each role, checklists and playbooks. A playbook will contain the processes, rules and/or suggestions considered to be suitable for each activity or job.
You can follow a simple five step process to get yourself started on creating your own Operations Manual
If you know what you want your business to look like when its finished, create the organisation chart you think you will need to run it. Even thought there may just be one or two of you working in the business currently, break out the jobs you each do and then put them into a structure.
Once your organisation chart is complete, working from the bottom up start to write out how each role is performed. Let’s face it, at the beginning of your business life you are going to be doing everything from selling to managing the business. Write down everything you do for the lowest position you work on. Once it’s done you can employ someone to come in and do the job for you. You’ll be working at the next level in the business.
These are simple a list of tasks associated with each role. They are a quick and simple way to ensure that your new employees are following your instructions (the way you do things around here) step by step. Its almost doing by numbers.
The playbooks are the documents that inform the background thinking for the checklists you have produced. If you’re asking someone to follow a prescribed list of what needs to be done, it is a good idea to give them some background and some theory behind why you are asking them to work in the way that you are. Often these playbooks will revolve around your ethics and values and will support the vision you undoubtedly have for your business.
These are imperative when you are employing people. They tell your new employees what is expected of them. This will be headed by a ‘result statement’ which will communicate the overall result the position must produce, the list of work (both tactical and strategic) and the standards they are expected to adhere to. Your standards – the ones you’ve built the business on.
Of course, you don’t have to do all of this on your own. As I said above, I am helping businesses implement Operations Manuals all the time, whether it be through coaching or consultancy. If you’d like to find out how you might be able to free up some of the time you spend working in your business, then contact me here or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org