Do you feel like you’re getting nowhere quickly?
Is your business stuck and you can’t seem to get through your next growth ceiling?
Could it be your processes are holding you back? Consider this …
Processes are the engines of your business; they ensure everything happens when and how it should. If they aren’t working, your well-oiled machine starts to clunk along and eventually it stops. And yet, seldom do we think of processes as the thing that could eliminate overwhelm, save money, and grow our business.
Despite their importance, processes are often seen by small business owners as boring, tedious, and not necessary for business growth. Many small business owners consider processes as something that only large companies need to worry about.
This is simply not true!
Consider this example …
One of our clients was feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. She felt like she was running on a treadmill and getting nowhere quickly. She was behind on her invoicing, HST was due the next day and her VA was waiting for input on the now overdue newsletter.
The good news was she had a new client to onboard by the end of the week. The bad news was she had forgotten to get the information needed during their last call and now she needed to arrange an additional meeting to tie up loose ends.
Any of this sound familiar?
Much of this scenario could have been minimized or even eliminated with documented processes to:
- Allow delegation of tasks like newsletter formatting and invoicing with the expectation of consistent deliverables.
- Save time and energy when doing the infrequent but repeatable task of quarterly HST filing and payment.
- Minimize mistakes that cost time and threaten professional reputation with clients and prospects.
In addition to the immediate benefits, when followed, documented processes will help you build a stronger, more sustainable business that is:
- Less dependent on you.
- More efficient and profitable.
- Less open to costly errors.
- More appealing to new employees and freelance suppliers.
- More fun!
If your business engine is clunking along, then it’s time to embark on a program of creating and documenting your processes.
The first step – recognize there are four types of processes:
- Procedural – how to do things. – How to do an invoice.
- Checklist – things to remember. – Set-up for a workshop or webinar.
- Action list – things to do. – Onboarding a new client.
- Standards – the way things look. – Style guides for documents.
The second step – identify all the processes and prioritize them. Our recommended order of prioritization is:
- Those that consistently cause problems and errors, especially in your interaction with clients.
- Processes that can be delegated now.
- Infrequent processes that cause reinventing of the wheel every time they are carried out.
- Large complex processes that require multiple people. This will require workflow mapping.
- The rest!
The third and final step – start documenting. Here are our simple guidelines:
- Design and document a process as it is being done. The beauty of this approach is that you can create them while you are acting them out.
- Documented processes do not have to be a work of art or a literary masterpiece. They just need to be understood. Write it now, refine it later.
- Decide on a simple layout for your documented processes. Our layout is:
- Purpose – For example: Onboarding a new client.
- General Description – The high-level description of what, why and when to onboard a client.
- Sequence of Steps – The step-by-step procedures.
- Use Examples of filled forms, printed reports, screen shots, etc.
- Be sure the document is dated for version control and saved in an easily accessible location for all users.
- Refer to it. Use it. Refine it. Refer to it. Use it. Refine it.
Your business machine is a living, breathing thing that needs constant attention and maintenance to run smoothly. Therefore, your work on processes needs to be ongoing.
It’s proven time and again, making processes a priority will bring you great rewards as you build a strong, sustainable, and valuable business.
There is an added bonus … you’ll have way more fun on your business growth journey. Enjoy!