The Fastest Way To Scale Your Small Business

125365_dolls_in_the_rain-e1372172364101There are thousands of small businesses out there that have been stagnant for at least two years, and many longer than that. I know this because I grew up around many owners that have the same size business they had five to ten years ago. There are also many clients that come into our office wanting to do a “Strat Ops,” and in the process we find some of the same issues time and time again. Owners get into a habit of doing certain things themselves, and eventually they fool themselves into believing that they are the only ones that can take out the trash. This creates an enormous bottleneck in the company and stunts the growth and opportunity for not only the business, but for the employees as well. There is no magic potion to fix this, but there is a solution that I guarantee will boost your business immensely, and that is to document procedures. This is also fitting as the last post in the series, because this document is the icing on the cake to the other activities and documents that we have introduced.

The “Working Procedures Document”
The goal behind the “Working Procedures Document” is to have every process in your business written down step by step. I realize that this sounds very tedious and annoying…and it will be at the beginning. The reward is well worth it though and I can tell you that in every business that we have implemented these procedures in, they have seen unprecedented growth within three months…three months!
Unlike the first two documents, you will continue to create and tweak your working procedures as time goes by and your business begins to grow. If your employees are the ones that are working in the business, you will also want them to be the ones that create each operating procedure. As they go about their job and do their daily routines, they will have to write down anything that they do that will be repeated in the future. They may be a little apprehensive about the whole thing at first, and you will have to stress the importance of the process, or they will quit because they will be tired of fighting the tediousness and annoyance that comes at first. Over time, you will also want to find a procedures champion in your organization that will be in charge of making sure that everything is running smoothly and fixing the errors as they arise. If procedures are left neglected, they will never be used or updated.

Wait, Why Do We Need These Procedures Again?

1. We Often Fix The Symptom Instead Of The System

I have found that the most common issues in small businesses are often reoccurring and predicable. Employers as well as employees often know that leaks in the business are coming and what they are going to be, but they do not know how to fix the hole before it becomes an issue. Think about your own business for a minute or two. Is your secretary handling (or sending you) the same issue over and over again? Are you putting out the same fires that you were busy putting out two weeks ago? The answer is most likely yes, but why is this?
We get so caught up in the fires that we have to put out today that we fail to take the time to change the process. We let ourselves believe that over time the system will get better, and so we let the system be. The truth is just the opposite: If we do what we always did, you will always get what you always got.

2. Clear Communication
This one is simple: When there are no clear rules or guidelines, mistakes and miscommunication will happen. Humans will always forget things, misinterpret things, and sometimes even slack off when they believe they weren’t given clear instructions. Working Procedures gives you the opportunity to be clear, as well as hold employees accountable when a procedure is followed. On the flipside, employees can also take comfort in the fact that if they follow the document, they will not be held responsible if there is an error in what they did.

3. Easier Delegation Process
There are very few employers that enjoy the on boarding process, especially when they are the ones teaching the new hire. It takes a long time and usually costs the business a lot of money to get someone new onboard and train him or her to be at the position they need to be at. There is often an even larger problem when the person who left the position that is now open did not leave any kind of process behind; it all left in their head. Now the new person will be scrambling to find a process that works for them while trying to learn about the company at the same time. This is one of the greatest parts of working procedures; they will document everything you do, so that when a new person is on board they can essentially train themselves and they will have a perfect idea of how the person before them handled everything. This means more time and money in your pocket.

Here is an example of a short working procedure that is in X Crane Business:

Dispatching: Receiving Calls and Entering Jobs

1. Receive the call.

2. Answer by saying “Hi this is Brad from X Crane Service, how can I help you today?”

3. Be sure to ask these questions:
-What company do you work for?
-Do you already have an account with us?
-How long of a job will this be? (How many hours)
-What size crane will you need?
-What does the job entail? (Trusses, beams, walls?)
-What time would you like us to be there?
-Where are you located? (address or allotment)

4. If you cannot accommodate the person for the time desired, tell him what his best option is.

5. Enter the job into the scheduler for the date and time agreed upon, as well as:
-Company name (And account number if applicable)
-Which crane needed
-Time desired
-Job description
-Length of job

6. Match the job with the crane that will be able to get there on time, and is in the closest proximity to the previous or next job.

It is truly as simple as that! It can be boring and tedious, but in the end you will feel on top of your game and so will all of your employees. When someone in your organization quits, you will have the exact documentation for their job and it will make the on boarding process that much easier.

Where To Keep Track of All these Procedures

You can do all of this by hand with a pen and a piece paper, but there are two different methods online that I would recommend instead for ease of use and storage:

1. Google Docs: The advantage to this is that it is free! You can create all of your procedures on separate documents and save them to a shared Google drive for your business.

2. Sweet Process: This option is not free, but it was made exactly for businesses wanting to create and store their procedures. It works very well and it is only $20 dollars a month for small businesses.

The last piece of advice I will give is to start today. The enemy of system creation is conning yourself into thinking you will do it later. Do it now!