The Importance of Building Process Into Your Business
What separates a successful business from one that struggles to grow and evolve?
In many cases, it's not the marketing, or the competition or even the product or service being offered. Instead, it's the inability of the business owner to build process into the enterprise.
Effective and repeatable business processes are critically important in facilitating early stage growth. By devising and implementing such systems, business owners can professionalise their operations and sidestep two of the most dangerous pitfalls that small enterprises face: Trading time for money and failing to maintain trust.
The Time for Money Trap
Most people who start a new business expect to devote much of their waking time to making it a success. In the startup phase, an owner typically has a hand in everything. In a very real sense, they are the business.
This is often a profoundly taxing phase, physically, mentally and financially. Yet it should also be a temporary one. As a business grows, ownership should begin to play a more strategic, rather than operational, role.
Unfortunately, many businesses become stuck in the early phase, working toward survival rather than planning for long-term growth. Business owners are forced to trade their time for money, and this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
When every hour is spent fighting to keep the lights on, a business owner simply doesn't have the necessary time to deal with the larger picture. And by failing to focus on broader strategic concerns, the owner can never grow the business to a point where there's sufficient capital to detach from an operational role.
In other words, they're mired in the time for money trap -- and building process into the business is the only way out.
The Process of Building Trust
Building process into a business allows owners to buy the time they need to focus on core duties and strategic thinking. Business processes can automate repetitive, low value tasks, freeing up time to work on more impactful matters. Business systems also allow employees to shoulder the operational burden, provided they are well-designed and implemented wisely.
Aside from creating time, business processes also have another key benefit: They build trust. Whether you're dealing with customers, partners or employees, nothing is more important than trust. Gain it, and you'll have loyal stakeholders invested in your success; lose it and your business faces existential risk.
Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, once said trust could be defined by this simple formula: Trust = consistency + time. That's an elegantly simple (and highly accurate) distillation of the nature of trust.
Businesses create trust by delivering consistently great experiences. Customers trust businesses that treat them well while offering useful products and services. Partners trust other businesses that live up to their agreements. Employees trust employers that offer a pleasant and rewarding work experience.
Depart even once from this formula by delivering a subpar experience, and trust begins to erode. This means that consistency and continuity is essential -- and the implementation of smart business processes helps you establish both.
Business processes aren't just important to early-stage growth -- they are essential. Growth without process is extremely difficult to achieve and ultimately unsustainable.
Recognizing the need to build process into a business isn't enough, however; you also need a guide to help you create the kind of effective and repeatable processes that work.
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