But did your plan envision growth, and the need for systems: the procedures, principles and processes that both describe and dictate how your business actually gets things done?
“A lot of people, when they think about system and process, they think software or an excel sheet,” explains Farid Dordar, CEO and founder of PerfectMind, a thriving membership management software company based in North Vancouver, B.C. “But the processes must be measurable and you need to be able to analyze them.”
Dara Sklar has been running a virtual assistant business for more than a decade. She describes her start as “accidental”: what began as one client on the side, while she worked another full-time job, suddenly turned into 40 clients. She didn’t have the systems and processes to handle the growth. And she didn’t even know it until five years in when she hired her own virtual assistant.
“I took the time to create a process for someone who was not in the same room with me,” Sklar says. “I wrote it up, went through the details, took screen shots, pulled a lot of details and materials together because they were overseas and I couldn’t be there to hold their hand.”
Sklar found a sense of freedom she hadn’t experienced in her business before and when she later had to replace that assistant everything was ready for the next person. This experience was so profound that she’s translated it into her next business venture. Paper Zero’s mission is to help other entrepreneurs organize and digitize paperwork and files.
Freeing up time and energy for the founder isn’t only a significant benefit to systematizing your business processes. Even more important? It is the key to sustainable business growth.
“You create a plan, then you execute a plan, and the next step is to measure,” says Dordar. “If you don’t do the measuring, then you don’t know whether you failed on execution or the plan was wrong in the first place.”
Like Sklar, Dordar’s experience from his first business led him to found the second. His martial arts school grew from 150 to 600 students after he created the system, and that became the basis for the much larger PerfectMind.
“I realized that every business, even within the same industry, is so different, because owners run their businesses differently,” says Dordar. “Having a product or software that allows you to really customize your business processes is very important.”
Dordar’s PerfectMind is geared to community-based and member-driven organizations, but the concepts are the same across all industries and business types. Dordar has counselled thousands of organizations and franchises on best practices for systematizing their operations across all business areas:
Sales and Marketing
- Prospecting, telemarketing, direct mail
- Visibility on conversion data
- Contact management
- Sales order processes
- Point of sale systems
- Analysis of salesperson and product performance
- Identification of trends and the most effective marketing channels.
- Recruiting and interviewing processes
- Performance review processes
- Compensation practices and bonus metrics
- Payroll administration and tracking of employee hours
- Manage organizational hierarchy
- Helping you hire and grow the right people.
Finance & Accounting
- Align objectives throughout the organization
- Business-wide visibility on key performance indicators
- Manage product/project planning
- Inventory control and analysis
- Supplier relationships and interactions
- Budgeting and forecasting for each level of growth
- Profitability analysis, and
- Support for financial discipline.
“And then you have customer and member retention processes,” Dordar continues. “There is no point bringing in new customers if you then lose them through the back door. So in order to gain customers you have to keep the ones you’ve got.”
Dordar and Sklar both believe that putting in the time and effort to document, implement and analyze processes results in fewer headaches and less stress while increasing both satisfaction and results.
Data, processes, and analytics are often anathema to the idea-driven promoter-personality free-wheeling entrepreneur. If this is you, don’t despair – celebrate your creative genius, but get help.
Between them, Boni and John Wagner-Stafford have five decades of experience as entrepreneurs and/or providing consulting services to other small businesses across Canada.