Often I hear clients ask me: “How can I take my business to the next level?” Some even ask if there is some kind of checklist or template they can use in making this happen. Let's see...
A good place to start is to consider the problems first (and be honest about what it will take to fix them).
This may seem a bit backwards. After all, the business blogs and magazines tend to focus on tools and tactics that are intended to grow and improve operations or profitability. In my experience, though, until you fix the “messes,” you’re spending time and money in the wrong place. Problems slow you down.
As your business grows, your messes will grow right along with it if you don’t fix them. When that happens, you’ll be drowning in new work but are unable to do a good job since you’ll be beyond the point where ad hoc fixes and systems can support you.
Here are some examples of messes that escalate as your business grows:
1. Your email inbox
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your inbox now, think about what could happen when you reach your dream and your business doubles or triples in size. The volume of emails will double or triple, too.
So take the time now and figure out a system to manage your inbox.
2. Your contact list
You have business cards piled all over your desk, a private email account, a business email address, and a ton of LinkedIn and Facebook contacts. Right now, you can ‘kind of’, ‘sort of’, remember where to go to find a given contact.
But as you grow, particularly if you add new information to contacts, it will be too much to keep in your head. When you want to promote a new product or service, announce a new website, or even just send a holiday card, it will be a huge chore for you.
The solution is to keep all your contacts in one place. Choose a CRM and add everyone, once and for all. Create a system to keep it up to date.
3. Your finances
Whether you offer a service or a product, it’s important to know whether or not you’re making money. When you are just starting out, you might have more time than money and not be too worried about profitability.
But again, as you get busier, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not losing money on some (or all?) of your efforts. You can either take the time to figure this out or find yourself a capable financial resource who can come in and sort things out for you.
Messes are as individual as the person who makes them – but they’re all fixable. Make a list of all your messes and prioritize them according to how much they’re holding you back and how much money and time they are wasting.
Then either hire someone to help you handle them or make a list of actionable steps to get them under control.
Get rid of them one by one so you and your business can be bigger, more efficient, work less and make more money!
How important is a staff manual?
A staff manual, or at least written down procedures, can provide much-needed clarity. Step by step your staff can learn what to do when and how.
New staff member
When you employ new staff, they have the same instructions as everyone else, therefore quality standards and expectations are the same.
When your employees are unsure about the next step; the why of a step; the overall picture of a task or process, they can look up the staff manual and find the answers there - most of the time without the need to bother you!
Even if you only have five staff members, it pays to have certain processes written down. Think of it as the 'bus syndrome' - If you or your staff member gets run over by a bus, someone else needs to do the job, and if they don't know what to do, then what?
When I create a staff manual I am in the person’s shoes. I do the task, then write it down, next step, write down, and so on.
It makes me question some of the steps, it makes me think about the step, does it make sense, can it be made simpler, streamlined?
Once the process is written down completely I let it sit and then look at it with fresh eyes.
When I am satisfied I read and do the task according to the manual. That provides the chance to find little inconsistencies or hick-ups.
Once I’m satisfied the manual is clear, I ask someone else to follow the steps and do the tasks, to see if it is understandable and makes sense.
If you don't know where to start, contact me as I can help you.
Hi, I am Marion of Marion Metz Solutions