In order to judge whether your business stands a chance at growth, you must first look at your own task list. What are the action items that take up your time every day? Are you focused on high-level, creative work or insignificant busy work? It’s obvious that email (the devil) hinders productivity, but what about tasks within the key functions of your business, such as customer acquisition, fulfillment, and customer service to name a few. Do you find yourself stuck or slowed down in any of these areas? If so, listen up, because now is the moment for you to spend a little time falling in love with processes.
While processes may seem like the least sexy part of any business, I argue that it is, indeed, the true secret behind success of any kind. Think about it. From the moment you wake up in the morning, what routines help you to accomplish the really important things like eating healthy, working out, or having patience with your co-workers and loved ones? I’m sure that on days where you follow some schedule or system, things seem to run much smoother for you. The same goes for your business.
Getting caught up in certain functional tasks can waste time, money, energy, and, more importantly, creativity. Processes set you free! With less time dedicated to re-inventing the wheel each time you (or your team) go through core functions of your business means more time for the really exciting stuff like closing deals, brainstorming solutions to problems, or genuinely connecting with co-workers and your customers. Plus, establishing processes help you to be organized enough to actually improve on them—which means delivering better experiences and adding more value in the market place.
Getting started with Processes
The first step in creating outstanding processes in your business is to determine the top 4-9 processes you already use to drive business. Take a moment to think about exactly how revenue comes into your business- down to the smallest detail. What accounting, sales, production processes, for example, happen in order to complete a transaction? List out these processes and then assign WHO is accountable for it. It is really important to have a “keeper” of each process because that person is responsible for optimizing and tracking its performance.
Speaking of performance, you must also attach KPIs to your processes. For example, and accounting KPI could be the percentage of invoices that are paid on time each month. This KPI works because it is a good indication that your accounting process is running smoothly and working well to motivate your customers to pay in a timely manner. If a process is constantly underperforming on its KPI, this could be a good opportunity for you to evaluate and improve on it. Which brings us to the next step. Once you’ve outlined the key processes and assigned leadership to each, you must map out the process step-by-step.
These become your company’s SOPs (standard operating procedures). It’s a good idea to review these steps each quarter because they can get out-of-date as your business changes and shifts during operation.
Even if you see yourself as the lead on all the processes in your business, it’s still extremely important to go through this exercise. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. The strength of your company comes from leadership taking charge of all aspects of the business and this starts by being clear on what those aspects are. Processes are the “how” by which your business does what it does. Mind these processes carefully because going from “good to great” all depends on the quality by which things get done.