By: Stephen Pirie, Posted 22nd Dec. 2009.
If you're seeking or wanting to
- spend less time on the day-to-day running of your business,
- sell your business,
- improve employee morale, engagement and productivity,
- have more fun at work, in a relaxed environment,
- help employees "fire up" with creativity and enthusiasm,
- sustainably increase efficiency, turnover and profit,
- simply take a holiday, free of worry about business performance and activity
then you will benefit greatly by 'systemising' your business so that it effectively runs itself.
Try this Quick Quiz, a quick litmus test for any small business owner:
- The Barack Obama Time-out Test
Are you able to take "big chunks of times during the day when all you're doing is thinking"1 about your business? Can we assume President Obama has good systems, and competent people able to take care of business while he's taking 'big chunks' of time to think about climate change, and the fate the human race?
- The Time-Away Test
If you were unable to be contacted - no mobiles, emails, nothing! - for two to three weeks, would your business run as normal? Or would you need to be there, because you're "indispensable", micro-managing the business, having not yet systemised and delegated the day-to-day running of the business?
There comes a time for many small business owners when they realise they no longer want to be "indispensable" to their business. They've come to realise that being indispensable means being tied to the day-to-day operation ... if they stop, the business stops.
It's very common for business owners and entrepreneurs to forget what took them years, if not decades to learn through on-the-job experience, and through the rough and tumble of commercial sales and business reality.
At some point, small business owners gain so much knowledge, competence and experience that they start running on auto-pilot.
They come to instinctively know how to complete a project, write an invoice, or answer a sales inquiry -- it all becomes automatic, obvious and hardly needs explaining.
Or so we like to think.
The extend to which we believe we're "indispensable" is the degree to which we've failed to systemise what we've taken years to learn.
That might be true, but isn't systemising a business, as is done in franchises2 expensive and time-consuming?
The simple fact is you can systemise your business quite easily, with any wordprocessor, spreadsheet, or flow-charting software. Print it out, stick in a manual, and so begins the laying down of what you know.
But, it is time consuming.
What would be good, valuable and indispensable would be an inexpensive, simple to use, workflow process that taps and systemises the enthusiasm, creativity and initiative of your staff, framed and directed by your valuable experience.
In other words, what would be highly beneficial would be to organise your business like any highly-systemised franchised business without the overheads and constraints of being a franchisee.
As one famous hamburger chain has successfully demonstrated the world over, if the business is sufficiently systemised it can (and often is) run by teenagers while remaining highly profitable.
And a well-organised business is an operation that enables an easy succession plan if your thinking about retiring or selling the business.
- 1. '"THE MOST important thing you need to do," Barack Obama told UK conservative leader David Cameron when they met last year, "is to have big chunks of times during the day when all you're doing is thinking."' Catherine Fox, 'Creating Space', AFR Boss Magazine, Dec-Jan10, Fairfax Media Publications, Sydney, p.25.
- 2. Franchised businesses are generally more successful and stable operations due to being highly systemised, well-documented and well-regulated. The ideal is to operate like a franchise without the attendant overheads and constraints!