How many owners can honestly say that they love what they do and how they do it? Sure, there might be a few, but on a whole, there wouldn’t be too many and here’s why.
First of all, small businesses are almost always cared for and babied by the owner. Just as a parent looks after their child, everything is on their shoulders.
Well, how can we change it so this isn’t the case and the owner can concentrate on building their business to one day become self sufficient and less dependent on their personal time, skills and dedication?
There is a way and Part one of Loving your Process will provide you with enough of concept to hopefully get your creative juices flowing for change.
Before we get started, I’d like to reference former US president Abraham Lincoln when he said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Even in the 1800s, people were wise to the value of preparation.
Think about a time when you had to do something like repaint a wall at home, clean your car or even cook dinner. Let’s use cooking dinner as an example. Before you started, did you think about what ingredients you will need? Did you then collect those ingredients from the shops? Did you think about the process that you will need to take so you don’t burn anything or destroy this potential masterpiece? All good cooks implement the above thought process. Most people who say they can’t cook only fail to understand that cooking takes planning. That is where they fail, in the planning. This could be said for almost everything.
In business, we use a business plan to help guide our future. However, there is obviously a difference between creating a plan for your business and preparing dinner. A business plan is not meant to provide you with all of the answers from the beginning to end, it is a tool that is designed to keep you on track and should plans change, your business plan will need to be adaptable to change too.
After you read this section, I’d like you to sit down and spend 5 minutes answering the following questions:
- What problem exists that your business can solve?
- What is your solution to this problem that your competitors have not thought of or have implemented poorly?
- Who is your target market? What group of people would be interested in your product or service?
- List step by step your basic process of providing a product or service to your client or customer.
- Who are your main competitors?
The above questions are designed to get you thinking about the very basics of your business plan. If you take the time to complete the above exercise, you will hopefully find your creative juices start to flow and don’t be surprised if over the next few days, or even weeks, that you will change and tweak your initial ideas. In the end, that is the main purpose of a business plan… continual improvement.
Internal Processes and finding the missing parts
Perfection is not always the objective when you are developing and transforming your business operation. The objective is to continually change your ideas, your opinions and, most importantly, your business behaviour.
You do this by monitoring and testing your processes on a practical level. As you venture down this path, you will need to develop an inward focus on your business and assess every facet. This is where it all starts to come together. In a sense, you are seeing whether the ‘glue’ that holds your business together is actually doing its job. If you have ineffective internal processes, nothing will fit together and every day will be one hard slog after another.
A great way of discovering what works and what is missing is by literally testing your processes and reviewing real situations. Follow the path from inception all the way to delivery.
Another interesting method is to create Mind Maps. See the example below.
This may look complicated, but when used correctly it allows you to see what is working, what is missing and what needs to be created and/or omitted from the overall process.
This is something that requires time and patience, along with a knowledgeable and experienced advisor. A standard Tax Accountant will not be enough for the ‘Love your Process’ stage. It is generally not their area of interest or expertise. We have been able to service our clients with this type of planning and have achieved great results. By simply implementing and acting on the Mind Maps alone into your daily business development you will create a massive competitive advantage for your business.
Maybe you are an organisation with 5 to 10 employees or maybe your business comprises of only you and your spouse. Either way, your culture is an important aspect of how you create value for your customers and progress through the work day with as few problems as possible. However, this is easier said than done.
Imagine attending a friend’s dinner party and you are there with a few other people. As you arrive, you are greeted at the front door by your hosts, they welcome you in and you get settled to have a good night.
However, after a few minutes you start to realise that something just isn’t right. At first, you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel this way, but you know that there is an uncomfortable tension amongst the guests.
Then, soon after, you see the problem. You realise that your friends, the hosts, are ‘secretly’ fighting whilst they try to put up a warm and welcoming front for you and the other guests.
This happens all the time with businesses that are dysfunctional, internally. Employees fail to get along with each other, they are unsure of their roles and responsibilities, there is usually a real lack of cohesion and certainly a lack of communication which always leads to a bad internal culture and ultimately, bad service.
A bad internal culture does not stay behind the scenes in the back office or home where the work is performed. It leaks like sewerage from its inception all the way to your customer and ultimately to your financial statements, cash flow and reputation.
Bad culture is perceived by your customers as disorganisation, incompetency, rude and uncaring behaviour and worst of all, you are labelled as an organisation that is not working with their customer’s interest at heart.
If you fail to acknowledge any of the problems highlighted above, your customers would never think to come back and interact with you. They certainly would never think to recommend your business to their friends and family.
So, what creates a bad culture? The answer is not as complicated as you may think. Bad culture boils down to two main factors; a lack of leadership and a lack of trust
This means that your employees don’t trust each other, they don’t trust the internal process that they are forced to exist in every day and most of all, they don’t trust you, the owner, their leader.
Leadership problems can be easily corrected over time. It only takes an open mind and the desire to see things in a different way. In short, it takes education and practice… you will also need to leave your ego at the front door!
We have been able to help businesses readjust their internal culture and whilst it is a gradual process it often doesn’t take that long.
Simon Sinek (Author of “Start with Why”) has his take on what a great business is. “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
So, there you have it, Part 1 of Loving your Process. Do yourselves a big favor and try to implement the three basic but powerful ideas.
- Create and write down your Business Plan.
- Work through and analyse your internal procedures in each department and see where you can improve this area; and finally;
- Don’t ignore your internal culture! This is what glues everything together. If your business has an average or less than average culture, be prepared for failure. I’ve seen this happen time and time again!