As a manager or owner of a small business, it can be hard to balance all your different roles and excel at them. How can you perform all your tasks and keep your business running smoothly without being tied to your desk? It would be great to have time to work on the big picture and move the business forward, but it can be hard because you are constantly putting out fires and have to stay on top of day to day items such as keeping on top of orders, helping your clients, and managing your employees.
You are probably all too familiar with the phone ringing non-stop with clients asking questions that only you are qualified to answer. You think to yourself: “If only I could clone myself”, but unfortunately such technology is not available at the moment, so you are left working as hard as you can and feeling like you can’t take any time off. You feel like a slave to your business. To make matters worse, you feel like you don’t have the time train someone and are anxious that another person won’t be able to fulfill your role, which might negatively affect your business and relationship with your clients. So how can you work smarter and make your business more effective so you don’t have to always be there for things to go smoothly?
Document your process
The very first step to freeing yourself from your work is to start documenting your role and knowledge. That way when you eventually bring someone else on board they will know exactly what is expected of them and have the resources to look up any questions that may come up. This documentation will also come in handy when creating a job post or evaluating candidates to perform this task.
Once you have a process in place, technology can help improve your business and make your life much easier. Implement tools to help your employees so that work gets done to your standard and so that you can monitor what is going on. Generate reports and ensure clients are happy. Some of the tools that might help include:
- Internal Wiki: Often, valuable resources are locked away inside individuals. When these people are not available or leave the company, valuable knowledge is lost. Wouldn’t it be great if your business’s knowledge was easier to access, share, and preserve? A company wiki does just that. A wiki is a collaboratively edited website that any user can add to or change. The most famous example, of course, is Wikipedia. The collaborative nature of wikis makes them especially well-suited to preserving and sharing a business’s collective intelligence.
- Order Management Software: This type of system is used for order entry and processing. It can help manage things like vendors, clients, inventory, orders and product inventory. If you are in the service industry, a Project Management System is more suitable as it allows your business to keep track of current projects.
- Customer Support / Ticketing System: This software is designed to resolve problems generated by workers and customers, and can support many type of problems. This is a great tool to provide a ‘self service’ system for your clients. If the answer they are looking for it is not there, they can still contact your business through the system or phone. Examples include zendesk.com and desk.com
Learn to let go
Face it — you will have to figure out how to train someone else eventually. This will require you to let go of some control and be ok with a few mistakes here and there. You’re not doing yourself any good by keeping all that knowledge to yourself. It’s difficult but important to learn to delegate, share your knowledge, and trust other people. The people you train won’t know everything straight away, but with time and experience, they will get better and better, and they still have you to fall back on for anything they don’t know. Here are 6 good tips on delegating.
Work on your business not in it
There is a great book called “The E‑Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. In it, the author reminds us to work on your business not in it. Break down the different roles in your company and see how you can delegate to them and empower your employees. What would it take for a another person to be successful? What information would they need? How should they handle client calls? Once you’ve answered these questions you can hire someone, train them well, and be confident they will be able to perform. You can even create a new process for dealing with a situation when the employee doesn’t know an answer.
You can also work on reducing the amount of work required. For example, making important information easily accessible to your clients might reduce the number of calls. A business can provide FAQs on their website and embed them into their ordering process. Information can also be provided on a ‘thank you’ email or page.
Document your knowledge, improve your processes, and rely on technology to help help separate you from your business. Work on sharing your information and making your business more efficient to free yourself from your business. Do you have any other tips to freeing yourself from your business? Let me know below!