When was the last time you were so impressed by a business that you just had to tell someone about it? Sadly, it’s probably been a while, but if you’re an entrepreneur, this represents a tremendous opportunity. Just think of the business potential that’s out there just waiting to be realized.
So what’s the problem? Why are there so few outstanding businesses?
Well, the problem isn’t a shortage of dreams. Most entrepreneurs have more of them than they can count. The problem is the challenge of turning those dreams into reality. Oh sure, every entrepreneur starts their business with the best of intentions, but somewhere along the way they loose sight of their dreams as they become more and more consumed with the daily grind of running their business.
After years of helping people build their companies, I’ve come to realize that growing a business comes down to two main things… people and time. If you can learn to properly manage both, you’ll eventually be a success.
To do this properly, you must design your business to function independently from you. It’s the necessary goal of any organization that wants to achieve success. Without this, you are stuck. You are doomed to forever bump your head against what we call the “glass ceiling" You’ll recognize the symptoms if you ever find yourself running out of time to get your work done, complaining about your employees work ethic, or feeling frustrated with your customers’ seemingly unreasonable demands.
There are four basic tools you can use to confidently give your business the independence it needs to grow.
1. Business Manual
2. Employee Manuals
3. Analysis Manual
4. Business Calendar
Used properly, these tools will form a solid foundation for your growth. They are designed to give your business its independence, so you can focus your efforts on guiding it to the next level. There’s a little work involved, but I’ve never met a lazy entrepreneur. And besides, owning a successful, thriving business is more than worth the effort.
The first business tool is your Business Manual. It functions much like an operations manual does for your car. It houses your strategies, your policies, your systems, and other basic information. Basically, everything you might need to run your company is located here in one central location.
The value of a well documented Business Manual is significant, to say the least. Not only does it help smooth out the daily management of your operation, it gives tremendous confidence to a potential investor or purchaser, helping to raise the value of your business in the process. Why? Because a business that runs on its own is a much more solid investment. In fact, it’s a critical factor in determining its market value.
The second business tool is really a group of tools. These are your Employee Manuals. Employee Manuals are the most common of the Four Business Building Tools, but rarely do they provide the value they should. A good Employee Manual should serve double duty as a Training Manual. This means it should contain not only your important company policies and contact information, it should also contain a detailed job description, complete with applicable systems. In other words, it should show an employee not only what is expected of them, but how to do it as well. The goal is to make the process of bringing in a new employee as smooth as possible and then empower them to take ownership of their work.
The third business tool is your Analysis Manual. Think of this as your “business dashboard". Here you will keep all the relevant numbers that you want to review on a regular basis concerning the status of your business.
Certainly this includes your financial statements, but those aren’t the only numbers that are important. For example, you may want to track the amount of overtime your employees are putting in per month, or the number of new prospects your salespeople are meeting with each week. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be useful, so take a little time to identify the numbers that mean something to you. Then, share these numbers with your employees.
Not only is an Analysis Manual a powerful goal setting tool (helping to keep you on track), it can also warn you of potential problems before they arise. For example, if you know that you need sales of $200 thousand next month and you know that your salespeople tend to convert 33% of their leads into sales, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got at least $600 thousand worth of quotes in place for next month. Now you’ll know with some certainty if you’re on track for a great month, or if you’ve got some work to do to reach your target. And you can do this with all sorts of numbers from your business.
The final business tool is your Business Calendar. This is simply a place for you to track the annual cycle of your business.
For example, there may be times of the year when you want to run various marketing campaigns… times of the year you want to review your budgets… times of the year you want to have employee reviews… and so forth.
It’s not rocket science, but a good Business Calendar is an essential tool for keeping things from falling through the cracks. After all, when was the last time you had an employee review? When is your next employee review? Do your employees know this date? Can they count on it happening on a schedule, year after year? If you implement a Business Calendar you’ll be able to confidently answer these questions and more.
Recently I met a fellow who grew his business from $10 thousand to $100 thousand per month in just under 6 months. Know where he was in month 7? He was bankrupt. He couldn’t keep up with his customers’ demands and his business simply imploded on itself. It’s a sad story, but his problem wasn’t new. The number one killer of small business today is unmanaged rapid growth. That’s not to say that rapid growth is bad. Growth isn’t the problem, all businesses need to grow… it’s the unmanaged part that can kill a good business.
So take a little time to get your business in order and then grow like crazy. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to building the business of your dreams.
About the author:
Mark Wardell is President and Founder of Wardell Professional Development, a business consulting firm, focused on the unique needs of small/mid sized growth companies.
Wardell Professional Development
Phone: (604) 733-4489