So, you followed your dream and decided to try out this entrepreneur thing. “I want to be my own boss,” you told yourself. You want to be in charge of your future but after months, if not years, you are working as hard as you’ve ever done before. By the end of each week you’re exhausted and feel you barely made a dent towards growing your business. Sound familiar?
What happened to that picture perfect life where you are running this smooth business from your beach house? What happened to having enough time to spend with the people you love and enjoying life way before retirement age? Michael Gerber referred to this as the Myth of The Entrepreneur in his famous book, The E-Myth.
In the book Michael gives a great story about Sarah. Everyone told her she would be crazy not to open a pie shop because her pies were amazing. So, she decided to do just that. She quit her day job that she didn’t like, and opened a pie shop. She then realized after three years that baking pies was just a fraction of her daily tasks. Instead of spending her day experimenting with new flavors of pies, she wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to open her shop, bake the pies, take care of customers, close the shop, going to the bank, buying groceries and supplies, and then getting pies ready for next day. By the end of the day she was beaten down and did not have enough energy to do anything.
What Sarah was doing was working in her business, when she should have been working on her business. You might be thinking that’s all good, but how do I start? When you have so many hats to wear every day and spend time putting out fires it’s hard to catch your breath, let alone think about growing your business.
Having systems and processes in place is the only way you can transition from a hands on owner involved in the day-to-day operations to a business owner/leader who sets the direction of how his/her business will operate. Utilizing technology is a big part of building this system and with SaaS technology it has never been cheaper to run your business. (Learn why you need cloud based applications here.)
Let’s face it. Creating systems and processes is not a fun thing to do for most people, but it’s the base of any successful business. You want to spend your time helping your customers, but without these systems in place, you can’t do so. One of the reasons people get into franchising is because the systems and processes are already built, someone already did the hard part of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some steps to help you outline a process and be more productive:
- Write down all the tasks that you perform every day. This could be opening the store, taking customer appointments, doing payroll, ordering supplies. As an owner of the business we take for granted that some tasks come as second nature to us. Consider what happens if you took tomorrow off, would everyone know what to do? What comes easy to you might not for your team.
- Take every task and outline the steps that need to be taken to accomplish it. When you open the store, what time does this need to happen? Is there any equipment that needs to be turned on first? Any signs that need to be put out before customers come into the store? When a customer wants to return an item, what steps do you take to ensure they are refunded the money, where do you place the merchandise and who’s responsible for processing the returned item?
- Can this task be automated, delegated, or outsourced? If your staff is still writing down their hours on a piece a paper, or they text it to your office manager, automate it by getting a time attendance and management software. For other tasks in your business, can you delegate some of the work to your employees? Can you outsource tasks like payroll or marketing? When you are on a tight budget it might be hard to spend money on new software or hardware, but there are plenty of applications out on the market for free that you can utilize.(Read up on the 9 free applications we used to grow ezClocker here.)
- Create policy handbooks for everything else such as attendance and time management policies, badges policy, ethics policy, benefits policy, holidays and vacation policies to name a few. When you hire a new person what type of training will they receive? If they are scheduled to work at 9 a.m. and come in late around 9:30 a.m. what’s the policy? Is it OK if they work 30 minutes later to make up the time?
- Continue improving the process because no one gets everything perfect on the first try. Start with one system and see if you get any feedback from your employees or customers and improve on it. Technology is in a constant state of change so always be reading and educating yourself on the latest trends and software that is on the market. What may have not been possible to automate today might be tomorrow.
When creating your systems and processes think how your business will operate if you took a day or a week off. Would everything fall apart? Or will it work smoothly because everyone knows what needs to be done. Let’s face it. You deserve a vacation!
Author: Raya Khashab
Raya is the CEO and co-founder of ezClocker. She is passionate about customers and building products that change the way people run their business. She is also a big supporter of the startup community and helping people achieve their dreams.