I am sure that, as your business grows, the number of employees will also increase and quite often you will have some sleepless nights thinking “what the hell I am doing?”. You go to bed at 11:00pm and at exactly 2:00am you are still thinking how you will be able to manage and make some many important decisions tomorrow.
You also believe that your employees are not working properly and giving their best as most of the very simple day to day decisions always come to your table. You also ask yourself: “Why should I make these decisions as someone else in my team was supposed to make the decision on behalf of me?”.
I would like to share a business secret with you. Perhaps this is the most import secret I have learned in my business life in the last 20 years. For your surprise the most important lesson is in THE KITCHEN.
At home, I am a very bad cooker. Indeed, I am a very bad cooker anywhere. Actually I am very luck to have a very pretty fiancé who is also a very good chef. She cooks all my favourites’ dishes by heart and she does not need to follow any instructions. If she wants to teach one of her friends how to cook her husband’s favourite dish, she will need to create a recipe.
A dish recipe is a set of instructions that describes how to prepare and make the dish. It normally consists of several components such as: the dish name, how long it takes to prepare the dish, what will be the ingredients and their quantities, what will be the equipment needed to prepare the dish and an ordered list of preparation steps and techniques in order to have the dish prepared. The word order is very important here.
Now, what the hell has a dish recipe to do with my business? A lot. In order to grow your business well organised, you must have your business recipe, which many consultants call a Business Manual. In this manual you must include all the business workflow, distribution of responsibilities and processes for any activity anyone undertakes in your company. It does not matter if you are running a small business. This concept could be applied even if you are sole trader.
You need to have business standards, you need to create your business policies and procedures in order to manage your business smoothly. How would you like your receptionist to greet your clients? When would you like to have your products delivered to your clients? A business manual preparation will bring you many advantages such as: (1) increases productivity, (2) avoid many mistakes being committed, (3) improves business organisation and (4) it could also be used as your business learning material and, finally, (5) makes sure that different individuals in your team will produce the same task result with the same standard. Mind you that having standards in your business is what could make your business stand out from others without standard.
In order to organise the business manual preparation better I would advise you to share the main document into shorter manuals. You should have separate manuals for: reception, financial department, premises maintenance, IT software and hardware, sales process, buying process, delivery process, among others. There is no exact way to prepare your business manual as it varies according to each business. The business manual is a tool for you to copy and paste your business knowledge to other individuals, such as new employees joining your company. Another option is to break your business manual down into five main categories: (1) organisation, (2) marketing and sales process, (3) HR and people management, (4) technology and IT and (5) business investment and capital.
Let me introduce you some basic information about each one:
Organisation: Make sure that first you prepare a list of all the daily tasks that you must undertake in order to manage your business, such as: What time does the business open and closes? Who is in charge to opening the business every day? How to unset the alarm? How the receptionist must answer the phone? How to book clients in individuals’ calendars? How to handle clients’ complaints and other matters?
Marketing and sales process: You need to keep track of how often you need to prepare any business marketing material, such as: business cards, brochures and other promotional materials. You must plan in advance any special marketing initiative, such as commemoratives dates. Make sure you have a customer service process in place.
HR and people management: You need to write down the employees’ positions, and what are their respective job descriptions. Make sure you prepare a list of all the employees tasks in order to reallocate them among them when necessary. Always have in place an employee handbook which covers how your employees should dress, salaries increase and vacations.
Technology and IT: Prepare an inventory of all your business equipment and don’t forget the software. Keep all the passwords very safe and make sure you have got an IT training policy in place.
Investment and capital: Make sure you add your company previous financial statements and an explanation about how your business budget will be reallocated.
Now, the preparation of your business manual is a job which has no end. You must up date your business manual quite often in order to have all your business processes, policies and systems well organised.
You can not have a very good business if you don’t become a very good cooker. In order to be become a very good cooker you must have all your business recipes.
I hope you enjoy the reading and don’t forget: Please not only read but act.
Have a nice and safe cooking journey