Michael Gerber suggests in his book The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What to Do About It, that it’s a myth that most businesses are started by entrepreneurs. Gerber suggests that many businesses are actually started by a person suffering from an ‘entrepreneurial seizure.’ That is, instead of creating a business that works independently, we create a business that can only work with us in it. This is when the day-to-day running of the business takes us over.
So, once you have stepped back and looked at what you are doing In your business and made some decisions about what you want and have identified some specific goals to achieve, you will need to take action:
The next step is to look at developing simple systems for some of the key functions that your business depends on. Many people are aware of the concept of the ‘This is How We Do it Here’ manual like that in a McDonald’s store franchise. In a small business owners can feel nervous of the work involved in creating this kind of manual, I will always encourage making a small ‘baby step’ approach and look at documenting say 2 key functions a week. This means extracting information that we usually just keep in our heads about the way something is done.
One of the benefits of writing it down, is that once done – SOMEONE ELSE can perform that task and importantly for those of us who become control freaks as owners, is that you can document not just what has to happen but to a degree you can define HOW it is to be completed too.
Once you start to put simple systems in place you will begin to see a number of other benefits:
- You can more easily delegate to people in your team if you have one and that can really motivate them to be more involved in your business.
- The unwritten rules of your business can be clearly defined and everyone can understand the culture of your business more easily, what you do, how you do it and the standards you set in the delivery of your products and services.
- Customer service processes will become more efficient and you will become more effective, so that your business doesn’t suffer from unexpected breakdowns.
- Once the business is independent of you it has more value as well.
Now, I won’t pretend that this process is easy – it’s not! You are already overworked and under pressure and this work does mean more in the short-term – but this really is a classic case of short-term pain – long term benefit.
Why not have a go? You may surprise yourself….
If you try and get stuck – email me or give me a call 07760 767025 and I will make some suggestions about strategies to help.
Frozen Ps – Systems Development and Implementation – Alternatively – If you would like to know more or you know that you need to do this but do not want to spend the time or resources on making it happen then please get in touch, as this is a project management service that we offer our clients and with our help you can ensure that it is implemented, we have the resources and the know how and we can help you short cut the process and save you re-inventing the wheel!
Is this you?
You run your own business. You spend your time mostly sorting things out, answering phones, replying to email, or talking with team members, fighting fires, juggling all the elements of your business at once – winning new work, selling, managing all the day-to-day operational elements and juggling money, cash flow, chasing debt and income.
You are in early, leave late and regularly forget to stop to eat or eat at odd times grabbing snacks to keep you going. And then you take work home. In any small business this might have to happen occasionally in busy times but for you it’s become the routine.
This is what working IN your business means. So what if you could work ON your business, you may have heard this phrase but what does it mean in reality?
If you were able to take a few steps back from your business and look at it objectively, saying, “If I wasn’t’ here what would happen to my business? What do I want to happen? What needs to be done differently to stop me having to work in it all the time?”
Imagine taking some time away from day-to-day tasks and looking at your business in the long-term. Putting plans in place to make the most of the opportunities that currently you miss because you are bogged down just getting by.
This is what is called working ON your business.
Think about why you went into business in the first place. What ambitions did you have then?
Perhaps, financial independence, persona success, being your own boss, building a legacy to pass on?
How many of those goals have you actually attained?
Interestingly most of us fall into business and suddenly we are so busy with admin and firefighting that we stop looking forward.
Steven R. Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, says to “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, whenever you start a process, understand exactly what the end point is before you start.
So, why not decide to set aside some time for looking ahead – you may be surprised at what that will do for you and your business dreams.
Sometimes when I start working with a new client who runs a business that employs people, they will ask me questions like:
- Why is it that I can’t seem to motivate my team?
- Why is it that my people don’t seem to care about the business the way I do? (Yes – I have been asked that)
So, what do you need to consider if you own a business that is dependent on your people to deliver its success with you:
- Hand on heart – have you talked to you team about your plans for the business?
- Do you regularly meet with them to discuss progress, opportunities and challenges you are facing (headlines are OK – you don’t have to discuss details)
- Are you confident that what your team hear from you, is what you thought you said or intended to say?
- How much do you really know about your people, their skills, achievements, characteristics that you are not aware of that could add value to your business?
- Are you able to confidently delegate or do you keep everything to yourself because it’s quicker and easier?
Some of the answers to these questions provide the raw material for looking at how you work first – Inspiring Leadership starts with you – its you as an owner to create the atmosphere in which you will encourage your team to excel.
So, steps to take:
Develop a vision for your business and SHARE it and involve your team
Plan to have regular ‘Strategy/Planning Updates with your team and ask for feedback from them
When you issue instructions – seek feedback immediately so that you check what you are asking for is what has been heard
Plan to do skills audits so that you gain an insight into team members abilities and organise occasional social events to learn about them ‘off duty’ and very importantly celebrate successes.
When planning to delegate work:
- Select team member for their skill
- Ensure that you give full instructions (rather than a quick briefing and then be disappointed when the task isn’t completed the way you wanted)
- Ensure that they have ALL the resources they need to be successful
- Set deadlines
- Seek feedback
- Debrief after the task
And then keep delegating because the more you do the easier it becomes, you will find your team will become more confident and more engaged.
If this blog describes you, then try some of these ideas and post comments on the blog to share your experiences.
It really doesn’t matter what size your business is – all owners have to learn to be great managers and leaders
‘Release The Power of Your Ps’
Here’s a question for you: Do you enjoy your business?
- Yes – absolutely
- Most of the time
- It has its moments
- Not really
- Can’t stand it but have to get on with it
This is a question I ask all my new clients, it may surprise you that many business owners actually find themselves struggling to enjoy their work. Many of the challenges we all face are because of business issues, rather than related to the skill, training or passion that your business is based on.
Generally we start a business based on those skills and tend not to be trained in understanding the key functions of a business and understanding how to make them work effectively. So, winning work, cash flow, dealing with difficult situations and people and lack of planning and resources become obstacles to greater success.
So, here are my top 5 tips for business success this year by helping you refocus your efforts , boost confidence and revive your energy for 2011:
- Business Planning – set aside at least 2 hours a week for ‘bigger picture’ planning, consider what it is exactly you want to achieve, what resources you need in place to make it happen, a timetable allocating activity, who will do it and deadlines. Break the activity down into small actions steps – so that you know what you have to do today to bring your goals closer and make what seems impossible, POSSIBLE.
- Marketing and Winning More Business – review how you won your work best since you started out and then repeat and do more of what works, avoid over complicating your activity. Many opportunities for business are lost because we focus on chasing new work in isolation, rather than prioritising looking after the customers you already have- why not ask your existing customers for referrals?
- Manage Your CASH – implement a simple easy cash flow system, Keep a tight control on costs, invoice more quickly, follow –up late or slow payers and if you are uncomfortable doing this – OUTSOURCE this.
- Market What Makes You Different – consider seriously, why your customers choose to buy from you, obtain constructive feedback about how you are really different from your competitors. Regularly use case study and testimonial to sell your services, they are much more powerful.
- Manage Yourself – analyse how YOU spend your time, a real wake up call for me early in my business life was checking how many hours a week I was actually being paid for! I had a diary full of meetings scheduled and none of them generated income. Consider any bad habits you may have developed and prioritise the time to do work you love and outsource everything else. Don’t forget to celebrate success and keep learning. Build a trusted support network around you and COMMIT TO TAKING ACTION…..
Today’s BBC Business news highlighted Monarch Airlines revealing its re-branding initiative. This doesn’t mean new logos and new uniforms but is more about improving the customer experience and help differentiate the business, as it operates in a highly competitive industry. Having a strong and consistent ‘Brand’ message is just as important for small business owners and links the owner, the business and the way it is perceived in its market place and beyond.Co-incidentally, I have just had a great conversation with Ruth Edwards of IMojo – who explained perfectly how she helps business owners develop simple clarity in their Brand messages.
Small business owners, often constrained by limited resources will not prioritise development of a brand and will see it usually as the creation of a logo they like.
Developing a brand that reinforces your credibility and quality of service takes working at and will add value to your business. Unfortunately, small things can undermine the strength of your image. As human beings we all make snap judgements no matter how unfair! Poor quality business cards, personal email account addresses at one end of the perception chain and a poor or inconsistent social media strategy at the other end can undermine your business reputation.
It is well worth spending time on your personal / business brand to maximise its potential for you and your business future.
Release the Power of Your Ps!
Love to hear from you – what have you done to develop your brand identity?
Many owners have ideas and plans for how they believe their business will develop over time and sometimes the reality of setting up a business doesn’t match those original ideas. There are many factors that impact progress – some positive and some negative: Here’s a few
- Unrealistic expectations
- Unclear message
- Lack of difference
- Lack of market (products or services that you are convinced will sell and yet no sales)
- Lack of resources
- Unexpected growth
- Timing delays
- Cash flow
- Initial expenses exceed your budget
The process of planning and developing a business plan is a good way of looking ahead and planning for the development of your business. It can help you stay on track when distractions come your way.
I have outlined some key areas of management information that may help you manage your business more effectively. See how many you can agree with!
- I know the business /market I am in
- I know what I will sell
- I know who will buy and why
- I know why those customers will choose my business
- I know exactly the opportunity there is for me and my business – where my potential customers will come from and why they need my products or services
- I have researched and understand what my market place will look like over the next couple of years
- I have planned an effective method of retaining my customers loyalty
- I have implemented a method of ensuring the highest levels of customer service in my business
- I have established a way of capturing data from prospects and customers so that I can market and communicate with them effectively
- I can clearly define my ideal customer
- I have researched and understand my competitors – how they operate, add value, differ from me and the way they charge for their products and services
- I have a resource team around me to help provide me support and specialist information that will enable me to manage my business well – for financial and legal guidance.
- I have set up systems to manage cash in my business
- I have set targets and will monitor progress against these
If you are starting a business, or managing an existing business – this checklist is a great starting point for ensuring that you are on the right track. If you have some observations/suggestions and ideas about items to add to the checklist then please do get in touch.
Release the Power of Your Ps!