Most entrepreneurs do not plan nearly enough, they are doers — a very important trait for an entrepreneur. However, without planning and a framework around it, even the best laid plan will most likely fall apart.
Every (and I mean every) task, job, and responsibility should be documented, reviewed periodically, and re-documented as needed. I know, it sounds like a daunting and never ending task, and it is, but it is necessary. It should be second nature to think and re-think how to do something and how to do it in the best way possible. Over time it will become habit forming if you and your team continually ask the question, “What could I do differently or better?”
When was the last time you walked the floor and performed random jobs? There is no better way to learn than to do. You do not need to become the expert, but by listening and observing, you can learn from the expert. You can then incorporate what you have learned into your best practices.
It will take time in the beginning to look at every aspect of your business, but cutting corners and not having the steps in place (or the right people and resources) ultimately wastes time, and results in failing to meet expectations and goals.
Remember, it does not have to be done by you and you alone. By creating a culture of active thinking and trust, your team will be willing to identify issues, accept positive criticism, and embrace change.
Keep it simple by breaking it down in to the four functional business areas: operations, finance, team, and brand. Then, break it down further by task and person. Ask each team member to keep track of what they do every day for a week. Give each team member a journal with the company logo. Use this as an opportunity to build loyalty and camaraderie!
Once you have compiled all the steps that everyone has documented, write everything down in a cohesive matter. Do so in a format that is easy to understand and comprehend, even if you have never completed that sort of task before. Compare notes and compile only the best of the best. Create a flow chart to visually show how all of these pieces work together. Do this as a group exercise as it can be a fun team building exercise, and most importantly, a learning process for everyone. Once you have buy in, make small changes and test the results for improvement and efficiency.
Keep in mind, you should never stop doing what you need to get done because you do not yet have a process. There will be times when you cannot let the process get in the way of completing a task or getting something done “right”. Take all available knowledge and the people you have and just do it. I assure you, it will be ok and the best thing is, you will learn from it and then create a process. Remember to always strive for perfection, knowing it is generally unattainable.
Written processes and procedures are a key component of your growth roadmap as each process helps visualize the path for the traveler along the way. Whenever you start and do something new it can be difficult and time consuming, but if you keep the ultimate goal in mind, it will make sense. The goal gives you and your team the ability to work harder and smarter, while saving time, freeing up people to do what they should be doing, all while creating a fun and productive place to work.