Grow

Which aspects to automate for a service-based business?

I’m a very passionate educator. My business launch a few years back and I’d like to better manage the growth process — the growing business as well as the personal growth required. (I am interested in) delegating. Automating my process in a way that allows colleagues to join the team and feel empowered to put their stamp on projects. Which aspects do you automate for a service-based business? For a product-based business? Unwritten processes need to be identified, so I’m reaching out for ideas… this is a cluttered, murky topic for me… any ideas about the kinds of processes that should be automated?

1. Systems

There are certain aspects that can be automated in a business. E-mail auto-respondents, social media, invoices, purchases just to name a few.

I don’t believe that much in automation alone and the reason it’s simple. It solves a part of the symptoms without ever working on the real cause. Procedures must be executed by humans, somebody needs to do the work. Hopefully, that someone will not be the entrepreneur, but employees.

More than automation, I think the important thing here it’s understanding and creating systems and sub-systems, based on a strategic objective, operating principles and clear written procedures. This procedure will be followed by your future team members, so they know exactly what to do. This are the tactics. The technicians work.

A. You can identify procedures by simply creating an excel document (are anything else that suits you) and monitoring what you do in a day. If you do this for a week or two, you will have the answers. You will know what you do. From there, you can:

  1. Eliminating what’s not aligned with your vision, not brings you growth or profit or it’s simply not serving your business
  2. Highlighting what’s good in what you do, what serves you
  3. Organize all your activity 4 categories: production & delivery, marketing, sales, management. Measure where and how you spend most of your time.
  4. See for what activities you don’t have exact procedures and write them down. Then make sure everything it’s done according to the procedures.
  5. There are no actions that don’t need to be written down, as long as they happen inside the business. Everything needs to be documented.

The bad part here is that you may get caught up in managing and postpone the real growth. Even if systems are my thing and I absolutely love them, systems and procedures are a medium and not an end. We don’t need to obsess about having all of them or about having the ultimate procedures.

B. What you can do not from a management state, but from a growing state is go forward, even if there are missing procedures:

  1. Have a clear sense and write down what’s the role, the personality, the competencies and the exact tasks of every new employee, while making sure it fits the culture.
  2. Write down the hiring process and the infusion process for your future employees/ team members
  3. Hire (here, you will take care to hire the right way — this could be a topic for an entire separate post)
  4. After hiring, you will start the infusion process (in the future, you can have someone who does that for you)
  5. Employee(s) will start do their tasks, based on what you’ve written down at point 1.
  6. Both you and the employees may discover that there are tasks you didn’t wrote down. Both of you will adapt and you will ask the employee(s) to write them down and report them to you. They can do that at the end of their schedule, by setting the last 10–15 minutes for it
  7. Writing procedures is actually the employee’s job, but yes, you must write down what each person must be and do for you, before hiring/
  8. Some people may not be happy about the procedures, but you will mention this from the interview. In time, they will understand that procedures are not limiting us, but helping us do things easier

Both options are ok. It all comes down to who you are, where you are, what are your priorities and staying connected with your objective: growth.

2. Leadership

Automating my process in a way that allows colleagues to join the team and feel empowered to put their stamp on projects.

Here is where the magic happens and the leader must come into place. You will have to constantly reinforce the vision by being and growing a great communicator. Being ok with you not winning all the time and wanting for them to win. In short, investing in people. Happy team = Happy customers. Studies show us that the happiness of our clients is directly proportional with the happiness of our internal clients (the team). Meaning, if the employee is 75% happy, the client is most of the times 74–75% too. Fascinating.

3. Identity

Before anything, what’s really important for you is to be you. To use what you are good at. It’s clear that, in order to have a business, you must take care of the entrepreneur within you, live more in the future, dream and reinforce that dream to the people, do strategical work. On the other hand, we all have the manager within us, who is looking for order and the technician who’s actually doing the work.

If you are/ want to be the entrepreneur, fight for that, while being sure that, besides consistently infusing the vision, you have the manager(s), the structure, the system running, the employees doing the actual work and you go dream. Every business has one purpose: to grow. Companies that don’t die are companies that do the right things, (execute), while dreaming caring enough.

Congratulations for not staying small. If you have any question, make sure you use the comments section and I will be back at you.