Business systems are the foundation of growing your business while working less and in this article you discover how you can do it and why its SO effective.
A while back I was speaking on the topic of business operations, and why having standard systems or a standard way of doing things can really help your business grow and help you as the owner, actually work less.
I first realized this shortly after opening my first food service business and a customer asked what our refund policy was. Well at that time we didn’t have one, so I made it up on the spot.
Anyone see the problem with that? Not having one AND not having one written down.
Its all about consistency AND others learning ‘how we do things around here’.
It manifested itself again a few years later, when I knew part of adding value to my business was having an operations manual. It's something that has value should you ever sell the business; other people know how to do stuff and you get it out of your head and into writing, in the form of an operations handbook or manual.
But as we know...knowing and doing are two very different things and this massive task called ‘document everything’ had stayed on my to do list for over a year and I had done nothing.
This is something only you the owner/founder of the business can write. This one page summarizes the owners vision, defines what business they are in (and not in), who they provide the service for and in what locations they do it in. It really answers the question – what would the owner do.
It sets out who you are as a business and what you stand for and starts to outline your standards in the marketplace. This is an internal document rather than anything you would use in marketing to the outside world. More of a reference point for each team member to buy into, so they ‘get it’. In today's world, if you are recruiting millennials, it's important for them to know what you stand for. It is a powerful tool to use when you are recruiting. People who 'get' what you are trying to accomplish in your business and what matters to you.
More importantly, for you the owner, it helps you to get really clear on what it is your business is about and helps you get laser focused. This document is only a page long and should only take about an hour to create.
The next level down is defining your Core Operating Principles
Company decisions conform to between 20-30 principles your business works by. How you treat people, how you want clients to treat you, how you expect the team to behave and generally turn up in your business.
This might take a bit longer to write and would be 2-3 pages maybe. Again, not a long time, but it allows your team to know what you expect and to be honest, reminds you as the owner how you need to be showing up each day too.
I implemented this in the business, made it available to each team member to read and sign off on and also posted it on the wall as a reminder. As soon as I did this the team shifted. They really started to understand what was important to me as an owner and helped them to know what I expected of them and they stepped up to the mark.
The next level down is detailed Working Procedures
This is how each task should be accomplished. The Working Procedures all follow a standard template and should be made available in the Operations Handbook. This can be a physical file and/or an online folder. We did both in the tearoom, so the team had access to it to check the details on a day to day basis, they had to sign off on reading it and during training, the lead team member would sign off that they had witnessed all the steps being completed. It made the framework for training everyone to the same standard. This really freed me from the day to day and I was only involved in what became known as 'exceptional' occurrences and it allowed me to deligage to my managers. Don't panic, YOU don't have to write these. You can ask your team member or manager who does the job, to write out what they do. Then you can review and tweak it or discuss what you'd prefer the procedure to be and it becomes a training and coaching opportunity with your team.
You can access an example of the Strategic Objective and Core Operating Principles from one of Tina's businesses.