Every entrepreneur dreams of getting to that point when they can just up and go on vacations, living the dream life without a care in the world. That’s the whole point of starting a business, yeah! The hope of time freedom, and not being committed to some 9 to 5 routine. However, this is only possible if you have a business structure in place. Some entrepreneurs don’t even realize that they do not have a formidable structure until the day they fall sick, and the business grinds to a halt.
Building a structure for your business is important – no doubt – but maybe not quite as easy for every entrepreneur. Before we go further, here is some questions that can help you better understand whether or not you have a business structure.
- Do you have to personally authorize every financial transaction?
- Does every operations decision pass through your desk for approval?
- If you were absent for 3 days or more, is there any aspect of the business that would be on hold till your return?
- Do you have to answer every sale inquiry, despite having staffs who are employed for that purpose?
- Do you have to resolve every customer dispute yourself?
- If a customer returned a product and asked for refund in your absence, would your staffs know what to do? Or do they await your return?
These are just a few questions that should generally give you an idea as to whether you have a structure in place. Once you grow your business past the stage where you are the sole employee, you should start having some sections of the business function without your input. That is how you gradually put an independent structure up.
On the other end, there are entrepreneurs who have built their business around one staff or two. In this case, once that staff is absent, everywhere is in chaos. No one can explain which records should go where, or which product was sold to whom. Now, this case is even more risky. Such an employee resigning could cause collateral damage. Off the top of your head, you can probably think of one or two employees that have practically become a walking version of the business.
Here is the 3-step hack to building your business structure. Document, Delegate, and Monitor. It works even if you have a small business, medium-scale enterprise, or large business. It does not really matter how long you have been in business. You could start it from your first day in business, or at whatever point you come to the understanding that you need a business structure.
First of all, you have to document all your processes and daily activities, possibly starting from when you are running the business alone.
- What are those problems you have to solve every day?
- And what are the processes?
- Why is your presence necessary around the office?
- What exact need are you meeting and how do you meet it?
Once you have this list, write out in detail the processes you take to achieve them.
If your business has grown beyond the early stage, and you now have a small team of two, three, or more employees, have them do the same thing. This is the process of creating a Standard Operating Procedure document which can become your business manual (if you are okay with such a term). This is basically compiling your business operations into a document. What this achieves for you as a small business owner is that you can easily see what each staff is doing and how they are contributing to the team productivity, and you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you are optimally utilizing your team. With this, anyone can go through the document and understand the exact way to carry out the tasks in your company without asking too many questions.
The second stage is to delegate. If you are trying to separate the business and ensure that it runs smoothly in your absence, you should try delegating some of those things you are solely responsible for. Instead of having your team running to you every time they have a challenge, delegate some of the problems to another staff to resolve them. You will need to brief him or her on what to do, and possibly get them to use the document earlier prepared. Don’t feel the need to breath over their neck just trying to ensure that they do their job. You will always need people to run your business no matter how solid your business structure is. Learn to employ quality people, delegate responsibilities to them, and trust them to deliver.
The third part is to monitor. You cannot just delegate a task and then leave the person to figure things out on his own. You will need to closely monitor at the beginning and make sure that they are doing it right. You can also correct it as you go, till they are able to fix things without your supervision.
You will not get it right the first time you try. In fact, if you already have employees before trying out these hacks, you will notice some form of resistance to the whole idea. The whole idea is to get started, keep pushing for it, and insisting until you get what you want.