When I finally read the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber it reinforced for me the importance of building systems and processes for your business so that you own a business and not a job. Michael gives some specific advice for ensuring that your business operates smoothly without killing you, the business owner.
How often do we hear the story of the rugged individualist business owner who defies all odds and works 20 hour days just to realize his/her dream of small business success. We have heard these stories a lot and the one thing we don’t hear about is how these same business owners are still putting in 20 hour days five years later. In the end their businesses shut down because the owners can’t sustain that level of work indefinitely and they burn out.
What can we do to make sure that this doesn’t happen to our business? The first thing that the E-Myth suggests is to look at the franchise model for doing business. The “poster child” for franchises that was named in the book was McDonald’s. The funny thing about McDonald’s is that for all the criticism about the fast food industry, you don’t hear enough about what McDonald’s does right when it comes to delivering a consistent customer experience that is second to none in their particular industry. At McDonald’s nothing is left to chance, everything is done the McDonald’s way.
For your business, it’s about creating the systems and processes that allow you to own a business rather than behaving like the business owner who works 20 hours a day and in reality just owns a job. The first thing that will be helpful in creating your systems is to do some research on the franchise concept and the different models that exist for franchising. All Business has a franchise blog that you can look at to get started. This doesn’t mean that you have to franchise your business but this kind of information is helpful to show how the best franchises create uniformity in operations all over the country and in some cases the world. Anyone who has worked for a small firm can attest to the fact that getting people to act uniform in one office of 10-15 people is hard enough, let alone getting several offices in different parts of a country to do it.
The second thing that you can do right now to get your systems and processes in place for your small business is to go back and look at the vision that you have for your small business. How big do you want to be? What markets do you want to serve? How many employees etc? What roles do these employees fill? Take a look at your vision and then look at how you can build your business today so that it looks like your vision for your company 20 years from now.
Building your vision today is important. One of the common mistakes that small business owners make when they do create systems and processes is that they create the systems and processes around their business as it exists today rather than how they want it to look in the future. The problem with this is that as soon as they start growing, they need new systems and processes. When that happens, typically the systems and processes don’t get created because the small business is growing and the business owner can’t find the time to get it done. The fact that the business owner had systems and processes done once was pretty amazing. Asking them to do it again is darn near impossible. Ultimately, growth for the business without the systems to sustain the growth, causes the business to fail.
If you haven’t read the book E-Myth, make sure you take some time to read it. It will give you some good insight on why systems and processes are important and how to go about putting them together. For now, think about your business and think about how you can automate more of the work that you do and look at where systems and processes would be an improvement to your life as well as your client experience.
What has been your experience with systems and processes for your business? Any suggestions for readers on good sources of franchise advice?