Are tasks falling through the cracks as your business grows?
Maybe employee expectations are squishy. Perhaps you’re not sure how to handle all your customer feedback. Or (gulp) you’re not entirely sure what the cash flow situation is.
It’s a common problem for entrepreneurs as they scale up their business. And it’s very fixable with the help of systems and processes.
A process is a series of regular, linked tasks that support a key business goal.
And that’s the topic our CEO Nigel and I are breaking down in today’s mini-episode of the Building a Story Brand podcast. These bite-sized podcasts are designed to give you a quick win for your business each week.
If processes seem boring or stodgy to you, trust me. You love them. Every time you board a plane, you want your pilot to have processes. As a patient, you want your surgeon to have processes. And guess what? Every time your customers do business with you, they’ll be thankful for your processes, too, even if they don’t realize it.
If you’re not sure where or how to set up processes in your business, we can help. Here are three high-leverage areas to set up processes — and it’s easier than you think!
Employees are your most important asset. And what’s the most important thing you can give these important people? Clarity about their jobs. That’s where established processes come in.
Key Process: Create a detailed job description for each person on your team.
Go beyond roles and responsibilities. Explicitly state the results you expect and the key performance indicators that help your employees measure their success.
This gives people great comfort in their jobs. They know what’s expected, and they have a scoreboard and rules within which to play the game.
Plus, it puts most of the responsibility for management on the employee, freeing up more time for the manager to just serve as a note keeper or referee.
We also need processes surrounding our products. This keeps our products strong and helps us make wise decisions as we’re creating or improving them.
Key Process: Create a process to continuously get feedback from your customers.
A lot of us think we’re listening to our customers. But when you implement a process for it, you’ll be shocked by how much you’re missing. We were — I’ll get into that in a minute.
This process will vary based on your business, but usually it’s in the form of surveys, focus groups, or user experience testing.
(To be clear, we’re talking about amassing feedback from a larger sampling of your customers. One-off bits of feedback via social media or customer support don’t qualify.)
Here’s an example from StoryBrand. We send a survey to everybody who attends a StoryBrand workshop. We thought we were doing the right thing. Sending a survey, listening to customers.
But we had no process to actually open up that survey, read it, analyze the feedback, and implement what we learned.
A process for us now includes who pulls the survey data, when she does it, how she analyzes the results, and how we as a team review it and decide how to take action on what we learned.
Send a survey, and you’re just asking your customers what they think. Add a process to your survey, and you’ll actually be listening to them.
Captain Obvious here: your business needs cash in order to grow. Cash is not just sales. It’s what you keep.
That’s what makes this area of processes the most critical to your success.
Key Process: Create a process to track your cash flow.
These process checklists are going to be different for every business. The frequency of your transactions will determine how often you need to measure it. But it’s probably questions like:
• Are we collecting money?
• Are we actually selling things and then recouping those funds?
• Are we managing the money that goes out the door so we keep more than we spend?
• Did we manage the expenses?
• Did invoices get approved?
• Did we get customers’ credit card information and run it?
All of those are very simple steps that ultimately support the outcome of scaling profits.
It’s different than your P&L. If your business were a movie, your P&L is just one single frame from one scene. It’s essentially a snapshot. If you rely on that alone, you’re going to miss out on the bigger picture.
Shape your process so it shows you the whole story and allows you to see how things are moving forward.
So, there’s an overview of three areas of your business where you can implement processes.
Our key processes in each area can be a great starting point, but I hope you’ll use these areas as inspiration to think of additional ways to help your business be more profitable and efficient.