When a business first starts out, it’s natural for the owner to be a jack-of-all-trades. You may not have the capital to hire specialists or access to the technology that can help you. As your business grows–or as you look to take a smaller role in your company–you may find the business has become over-reliant on you, which makes it difficult for you to take a step back.
Here are some steps you can take to enable your business to thrive, even if you can’t be there all the time.
1. Review workflows
Have someone interview everyone in the company to find out what their job is and how they fulfill their tasks. Look at their processes to see if there are ways to make their tasks more efficient and seamless–you could even look at best practices in other companies to see how they manage their tasks.
The goal here is to make processes as simple and efficient as possible. Take out any unnecessary steps and ensure each process only involves tasks that are vital to successful completion.
2. Automate what you can
Often in business, people continue doing a task inefficiently simply because they got used to doing it that way. That can lead to hours being spent in activities that could be automated. Look at activities that are carried out regularly and investigate whether software exists to make that process easier for you.
For example, if your staff spends hours each day updating your customer database, it’s worth looking into customer relationship management (CRM) software, which automatically takes care of that for you, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors. Likewise, if your team spends time following up on unpaid invoices, consider an online invoicing system that automatically sends out overdue notices.
3. Document the processes
Once you have an idea of how people carry out their responsibilities and have identified ways to improve or automate them, write the processes out. If possible, keep the documents digital, so they can be updated as your business evolves and so everyone can easily find them. If you’ve purchased software to automate processes, make sure everyone who would use the software knows how to access it and can do so easily.
Finally, ensure the documents are stored somewhere safe and accessible for your staff. You could use Google Docs or software designed to help with business process management.
4. Train your staff
Now is the time to train your team in your optimal workflows. Make sure everyone has read and understood the documented processes and knows how to access and use any software or technology you’ve purchased. Ideally, you’ll have a couple of people trained to cover each area of your business, so if one is ill or unable to work for a while, someone else can easily step in to carry out those responsibilities.
5. Make your business self-reliant
You want your business to function without you so it still thrives if you become ill, need a vacation or otherwise can’t work for a while. Examine your processes for areas where the company is still overly reliant on you and look for ways to foster self-reliance. This may mean identifying gaps in your employees’ expertise and hiring people with complementary skills, finding new ways to automate workflows, working with consultants and outside service providers to fill in gaps, or creating an FAQ document where questions you’re commonly asked are answered.
As your business grows and you step away, you’ll need to ensure you have staff who can take over various activities.
Reviewing and documenting your processes, automating what you can, and identifying areas where your business is overly reliant on you will set you up for success.