It is hard to grow a business if you are 100% working "in" it. Most people work "in" their business because by nature, we like to feel important. In other words, it won`t get done right unless we`re there to make sure it is done right. So every fire that comes up, we`re the "fireman" (no offense ladies - I know, there are firewomen - "fireman" is for discussion purposes only) that puts it out. Waaaaaaay too many business owners are firemen. And then they wonder why they end their day and never feel satisfied, never feel like they accomplished anything, the TO DO list is just as long as it was yesterday, AND I will never grow my business because I NEVER have enough time. All "firemen" - this is where you say "Amen".
I believe it is much easier to teach a new dog new tricks but old dogs can learn, too. But a new business has a distinct advantage if they make a commitment not to become a fireman as their business grows. If they do make this commitment, they will have time to work "on" the business as it grows.
What is the easiest way to have time to work "on" the business?
From the beginning, design you company to be "process-dependent" and not "people-dependent." This means writing SOPs from day one. This means involving every employee in the process of writing the SOPs. From day one. And use them - religiously!
How does a company - say a sandwich shop like Jimmy Johns - succeed at franchising? They have the processes documented. McDonald`s did it. Chick-fil-A did it. The military does it. Successful companies are process-dependent, not people-dependent.
When your company is process-dependent and not people-dependent, the owners (and/or key management team members) can go away and they will not miss you. The train just keeps on clicking down the track.
If you`re starting a business, act like you will have 100 employees from day one. Document processes and make sure everyone knows them - front and back. As you grow, you`ll have time to work "on" you business.
I appreciate the "second" on my post.
I do a lot of consulting in the automotive aftermarket, especially in and around collision repair shops. These businesses are notorious for not having ANY operating procedures to guide their business. Body shops are constantly "putting out fires" all day long. Many body shops are opened and operated by the "craftsman" types Blakeman describes in his last post. I see the results of the "fireman" mentality every day.
But as the song says, "The times they are a changing." Process-think is making its way into this business arena - finally. But it is like pulling teeth. They are coming to their senses kicking and screaming. The ones who are adapting to these tried and true methods will be the ones who will survive the consolidation of our industry. We predict that the current 45,000 body shops will be around 30,000 in less than 10 years. Those they adapt will survive - those that don`t, well, you get the picture.
The body shop business may not interest you. But below is a link to a recent article in one of our major trade pubs where some industry experts talk about the importance of SOPs and becoming process-dependent. The overall message of the story can apply to most any business or industry.
Enjoy and have a great weekend!