We are excited to be back with you this year to continue bringing you important topics that will help you continue to grow your business! In this episode, we are discussing the importance of processes and business process documentation. We are speaking with Jaime Staley, Partner, CPA, and virtual CFO at PJS & Co. CPAs, so she may share her insights and expertise on processes and why they are so important to the success of your business.
What we cover in this episode:
- 02:25 – How do business processes help my business grow?
- 08:28 – Tools and tips for implementing processes
- 21:11 – Addressing challenges
How do business processes help my business grow?
If you’ve been listening to our podcasts for a while now, you know that we always like to start with the “why.” So why do business processes matter? There is a quote from Michael Gerber’s book, E-Myth Revisited, that summarizes the importance nicely, “Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant.” Documentation of processes is part of the business growth process as a whole and will be helpful at each stage of business growth.
Growth, scalability, and stability
In the quote above, Gerber is reminding us that we only have control over certain elements in our business. When it comes to our greatest asset, people, it becomes problematic if you can’t transition as needed when you have staffing changes. Growth cannot happen if you and your team are constantly having to recreate the wheel because of turnover, illness, and other challenges that happen with people in an organization. In a nutshell, this is the main reason that processes are important to establish in your business.
In order to maintain the stability of your company, both internally and externally, make sure the processes you develop and implement are scalable and will work for you whether you have 5 employees or 50 employees. It’s very helpful to think about the future as you construct your processes so they can grow with your organization.
Most companies have some key players within their ranks who have been with the company for a long time, and you as an owner tend to lean on and rely heavily on them. If you don’t have documented processes in place, and one of those key people leaves, things can fall apart. Trust in your people is crucial, but you have to be prepared as an owner if that key person leaves in order to keep things running smoothly. You should create a stopgap for that situation by documenting processes. In the long-term, it’s a benefit to have keystone people in your company, but you need a system behind them so that if they decide to move on, you have a starting point to replace them and a reliable system that will help you continue on the path of success.
Tools and tips for implementing processes
E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber
One of the tools we recommend and have discussed in prior episodes is the book The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber. He speaks quite a bit about processes in that book and gives some great examples on how to incorporate processes into your business.
Traction, by Gino Wickman
We also recommend another great book and resource, Traction, by Gino Wickman. There is a whole section dedicated to the importance of processes and documentation for each of them in this book, and it’s broken down by each function that you have within your company. HR, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Accounting, Customer Retention, and Service are all discussed and need the right set of processes in place.
We’re not going to dive into every single process you need, but let’s take the HR department, for example. What kind of processes might you need? You need beginning-to-end processes in recruiting, and you have to ask yourself, what does that process look like? How do you get postings out there so people can apply? How do you collect resumes? How do you review? What’s the next step after you’ve chosen a resume, and then all the way to onboarding that person? There are so many processes along the way that should be looked at and addressed, and documenting all those processes gives you the ability to review, refine, and streamline them if or when something may not be working or if you want to revisit.
Putting yourself in the position of a new person coming into the company can be helpful and make you aware of all of the processes and things that need to be in place. The purpose of these processes is to guide that new person through what they need to know. What are the questions they’re going to ask? Processes save time and eliminate confusion. Having the documentation of these processes will also allow you to make adjustments if things go off course and you need to make changes.
You Don’t Have Time
While having all of these processes in place is ideal, it can be a challenge to implement throughout your business. Having the time and energy, as the business owner, can be difficult when getting the processes put on paper. You’re running a business, right? You may have other priorities that you need to give your attention to, and this task may creep down to the bottom of your list of things to do. Setting aside weekly time (even 10 minutes) to work on processes can be a great starting point. Put it on your calendar and stick with it!
It is crucial to the long-term growth and health of your business to find some time to document your processes. If you can set aside time to do this, it can improve the stress on your overall daily life over time. You will reap the benefits of getting some peace of mind, as well as minimizing risks in your business if you are able to do this. It may be a slow and steady process to get it all done, but like many big projects, if you can break it down into smaller tasks, it may come easier. You don’t want to take on too much and make it so overwhelming, because you will then just keep pushing it to the bottom of the list. So we recommend that you break it into pieces and just start with one area at a time and work through that.
Your Team is Feeling Threatened
One big challenge you may face when implementing and documenting processes is that some team members or employees may feel threatened. They may think that they are the only person who knows how to do the job properly and feel job security in that fact. They may think if they document the processes in their jobs, they could be replaced at any time. So how do you address this as an owner?
Jaimy Staley stated, “I think it goes back to the culture a little bit and kind of the tone from the top.” What you want your employees to focus on is why you are implementing these processes and documenting them. Let them know why it’s important to have cross-training in case they are not available to do the tasks. Perhaps let them know that maybe you want them to be doing bigger work projects in the future, and streamlining the processes will allow additional time for them to take on tasks that they can shine in and use their talents to the full extent possible.
Lack of Communication Within the Organization
Communication is the thread that runs through all of these challenges. Ensuring that your employees understand that the goal of establishing and documenting processes is to protect the company and, in turn, their future is imperative for long-term success for everyone. This should help alleviate any fears and doubts. Rallying your key employees to buy into the mindset of looking at these changes as beneficial to everyone in the company, and taking on the mindset of an owner when implementing these processes, will help them manage their teams and pull more people into the fold and calm any fears your employees may have.
You can streamline your business functions and minimize risks if you are able to put scalable and documented processes in place. We recommend adopting the mantra from The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, “Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant.” It can be challenging to do, but with time and focus on the steady implementation of these processes, your business will benefit and be on the right track for success.