In Sickness and In Health
Are you running a business or is your business running you.
We had quite a scare late last month. The Boss (aka Dad) came down with a very serious infection is his leg. After many trips to visit Doctors, Specialists, Hospital and X-Rays, it seems he is on the mend but it has not been an enjoyable experience, as you could imagine. He has been out of action, as much as a business owner allows themselves - which means not for long.
No one ever plans on an accident, hence it's name. When an emergency presents itself, you soon appreciate where your priorities lie. Normally work is not at the top of the list, well except for those really really strange people. Chances are your health or the health of the impacted is the priority and rightly so. But what happens when you're in business and you and your family rely on the income and you are out of action? As Benjamin Franklin famously touted: By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Fortunately for us, we have prepared our business to continuously operate smoothly whilst The Boss is away. We have had a lot of practice as it seems he is away on holidays more than he is in the office (Sorry Dad, I couldn't resist!). Time has been spent on our processes, ensuring uniformity and clarity when our staff are completing work. Time has been spent systematising our office, so we have a detailed set of policies and procedures for all of our functions.
What this helps us to do is cope in scenarios such as sickness and unexpected events, but also it enables us to continuously bring on new work with ease.
Three Questions that every business owner needs to ask themselves:
- Can someone else truly takeover this business (ie sell your business) the way it is run now?
- Who would know where to start if tomorrow I couldn't make it into work?
- Am I really running a business or does my business run me?
It's pretty confronting to think about isn't it. It is a serious matter and because it is confronting, it means you absolutely need to prioritise your focus on refining your business systems. Here are my starting suggestions to setting up your business systems
- Create a list of all of the programs you use, including the username and passwords to access each program
- Detail your customer sales cycle, right from the beginning. Jot down every step that goes into a transaction. From the initial request, through the various staff touchpoints, closing the sale, completing the process and collecting payment.
- Detail your administration process. List all the steps in each of the following processes: receipting payments, paying bills, recording GST, paying BAS, preparing payroll
- Collate this information into a simple, chronologically organised document.
Congratulations you have now developed a simple emergency manual that will allow your business to function in your absence.
The next step is to refine and develop this document over time and turn it into your Standard Operating Procedures manual.
This is the backbone to a competent and scaleable business.
Another way of considering scaleable is saleable. I don't mean you have to have a plan to sell your business (although an exit strategy is an extremely important future consideration).
It just means that 'you' are not the centre of the business - you are interchangeable without impacting the business.(Originally published DUO Magazine April 2017)