How to Cut the Ties that Bind (You to Your Business)
Can your business run without you and still be successful?
Many companies have disappointing outcomes due to lack of preparation and a short-lived “living in the moment” mentality. In this article we will talk about the steps business owners can take to become Entrepreneurs.
The Ball and Chain is Real
According to AARP, research shows that most baby boomer business owners are reluctant to stop working and don’t have a succession plan for their business. In a poll of more than 1,000 small business owners, Edelman Intelligence on behalf of Nationwide Financial gives us the reasons for this reluctance:
- 68% said they love their work too much to quit
- 17% said they don’t think they will be financially able to quit
- 11% said they don’t want to entrust the business they built to someone else
- 9% said they want to leave a legacy with their company
- 3% said they’re afraid someone else would lose sight of their business vision
- 1% feared a new owner would bankrupt the company
The pandemic has taught us that change comes without warning. In a flash, any of us could be incapable of running our businesses.
Someone once told me that the difference between Entrepreneurs and Business owners is that Entrepreneurs run their businesses, Business owners gave themselves a job.
My mentor, Hugh Culver, once told me that we should set up and run our business as if we are selling it. It is the only way to guarantee that we have systems and processes that allow the business to run without us.
Breaking Free is Effective
Business strategist Yvonne Weld agrees. She was able to use her documented systems and processes when her husband became incapacitated. As a result, her systems helped her two businesses avoid paralysis as she continued to support him in his treatment and recovery.
Thankfully, the transition was as easy as giving password access to her virtual assistant. Setting up her business to run without her paid off. The business gained even more clients than before and thrived in spite of her absence.
Without systems in place, owners tie themselves to the business. The business is dependent on the knowledge only they have.
I have known a lot of owners who tie their identity to the business – especially if they built the business from the ground up. The typical excuse I hear is, “If I’m not here, all hell would break loose. If I’m not here, who will make sure no one slacks off? If I’m not here, the customers won’t be happy”
There are lots of examples of businesses losing customers because services are being delivered in different ways than the customer is used to. Or that costs and productivity spiral out of control because the owner is not present.
Having processes in place, not only guarantees the delivery of service and profitability but can also help the business valuation. According to Weld, a businesses’ value is higher and is more tangible than one that relies on the day-to-day input of the owner.
Yvonne Weld’s Steps to Setting up Processes
In this section, Weld provides examples of the steps you can use to start the process.
1. Start tearing down your business into its operational areas. Ask what ails your people as they go through the processes and collaborate to improve them.
2. Don’t take anything for granted. Document every process. Create easy-to-follow procedures complete with pictures. The idea is to create quick references that can be used for training and reinforcement.
3. Simplify your documentation by writing in the 5th-grade language. Don’t get stuck in technical jargon.
(Check out Yvonne’s full Interview on Marc Haine Live)
4. Be honest about what you are documenting by re-reading and testing them yourself.
5. Revisit your procedures regularly to ensure that they are being implemented and still effective.
“I always get my team members involved because they’re the ones that are doing the work. So I have them documenting everything. As they’re using one of the processes, if they notice or they have a question, we discuss what extra step we need to add to the process. So they’re always evolving, always changing. It’s a living, breathing document,” says Weld.
6. Do a complete audit of your operations at least once a year.
“Each month, review a different area of your business. Then every seven months, you repeat. Essentially, the oldest and most outdated procedure is going to be only six to seven months old,” recommends Weld.
7. Determine which tasks you should delegate versus automate through the standard operating procedures.
“There are just some tasks we should not automate, and that’s the face-to-face interactions with your clients. For instance, customer service should always have a human case,” says Weld.
8. For iterative processes, research software tools can help minimize human effort and make the process faster and more consistent.
9. Create a culture of accountability and trust within the context of these systems.
“For instance, when I give someone a rope to find their way, without me standing over someone’s shoulder, nine times out of 10 when I go check on them on Friday, they’ve made the progress I wanted them to make,” says Weld. Having regular check-ins and updates is the key.
10. As leaders, it’s also essential to remain grounded and humble even as you entrust these processes with less supervision. This posture will enable you to go to your people and say, “Hey, you know what, I’ll check in with you on Friday. If you need anything between now and then, please feel free to check in with me.”
“I’m big on modelling the behaviour that you want them to follow,” says Weld.
11. Documenting a particular process may be time-consuming but worth the investment of that time and energy. One can reference the training files whenever a team member needs a reminder or a first-timer needs to learn how to do a process or procedure.
There are practical ways to document aside from writing them. As you do the task yourself, you can record a walkthrough using your cell phone recorder or a screen recording app. You simply talk out loud as you are actually doing the task. Having it transcribed through transcription software or an assistant., will give you the first rough draft of the procedures.
As we go through the process, we have to be very cautious of our customers’ outcomes. The systems and processes cannot be so stringent that we fail to be flexible. There has to be a little bit of fluidity to the systems to ensure we can adapt to changing conditions and to ensure customer satisfaction.
Having open dialogue with your team (what is working? What is hindering?) allows a business to adapt to change and adopt new processes as the business demands evolve.
As a business owner, making yourself obsolete at the inception of the business, gives you the advantage to work on your business, not in your business.
About Yvonne Weld
Yvonne Weld is the owner of The Weld Group Inc and helps what she calls “accidental entrepreneurs” to navigate the entrepreneurial world. She shows them how to stop trading dollars for hours, find work/life balance, and build a healthier cash flow.
Typically, her clients come to her to learn how to get off the hamster wheel so they can stop disappointing their family, build a business that allows them to take vacations, enjoy family time, continue to make money, and live the lifestyle they deserve.
Yvonne has been married to her high school sweetheart, Kevin for almost 30 years and they have a son Brennan who also works with Yvonne in her business. She enjoys spending time in nature and loves to go camping, hiking and enjoy campfires in her backyard.
Connect with Yvonne