As a small business owner you want to build a reliable business that blows away your competition, it’s therefore important to invest in systems and procedures so that you can reduce your dependency on people. This isn’t to say you won’t still hire people; you will. But by investing in systems you can hire fewer people, and with the right systems in place you can often hire other people with the right skillset and not just a particular person.
Employees Are Temporary
When you rely on people, you have to realize that the talent you hire is likely temporary. I know this from personal experience, they’re going to move on to bigger and better things if you can’t provide it or as in my case they might chose to try and be you and start their own business. It doesn’t matter, the point is, people aren’t permanent and can and will leave. In fact, today the average employee only stays with a particular company or position for one or two years.
Putting Your Eggs in One Basket Is Dangerous
When you are overly reliant on one person to build the business, come up with the ideas, and implement them, you’re really taking a big risk although that’s the life of a small business owner. Remember talent is temporary and they can leave at any time. If no one knows what this person is doing, it can be really hard to replace them, but, when systems are in place, transitions can become seamless and painless.
Ask the talent you have currently to document their processes, and when things change to automatically update the documentation. That way, if they get hit by a bus, the process will continue and your business won’t suffer. Technically you want someone to be able to leave on Tuesday and someone new to be able to step right in on Wednesday and know what to do because of the documentation. Pro Tip … test the documentation out regularly to ensure it makes sense, is complete and is up-to-date.
Like processes should be documented, so should standards. It’s up to you to set the standards that you want others to follow. Let your employees know when they’re meeting or falling short, so that any documenting of processes will be up to your standards as they’re documented.
Cross-Train and Develop People
Allow your employees to learn other positions and offer cross-training, this will allow people to become not only better at their own jobs but also have the ability to fill in for someone else when necessary and give you a work force that can step in and help one another. It may also keep them with you a little longer while they document their processes.
If there is a technology available that you can afford that replaces what people do, you want to consider it. This can enable you to spend your dollars more wisely by using human capital in other areas of your business, rather than where technology can do it for you and more consistently.
Finally, when you manage systems, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier than managing people. When there is a failure, you can point to a problem with the system rather than a problem with a particular person, and it’s easier to fix the problem and improve. People are messy but systems are always clean.