Book of the month - Built to Sell - Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow

I’m in the middle of creating a new product and one of the things I will be asking people to think about, in relation to why they might need processes in their business, is why they originally started their business - was it to create themselves a job, ie. their income is relative to the amount of hours they work? or was it to create themselves an income stream that will provide for them in the longer term, irrespective of how many hours they work?

I suspect that a lot of people didn’t really consider either.  They probably thought working for themselves would give them more freedom than in paid employment.  However, in reality many small business owners find that the customers want to deal with them directly, the staff rely on them to know what to do next, and so in order for the business to survive, they have to work harder than ever.

Built to Sell by John WarrillowThis month’s book is sub-titled “creating a business that can thrive without you” and it’s all about how to move your business from one that survives because you put so many hours in, to one which thrives despite you not being involved in every aspect. 

Its title “Built to Sell” does imply that you would only want to read it if you are thinking about selling your business, but don’t be put off.  If you want to earn money from your business in the longer term you may wish to sell it to gain a lump sum, however you might rather keep the business but have it in a state that you don’t have to work in it, or at least not very often, but still earn a good income from it.  In that case, this book absolutely applies.

The book is written as a fictional story, but the characters and the advice are based on real situations known to the author.  The story is about a guy, Alex Stapleton, who has built up a marketing agency but is struggling with: demanding customers who will only deal with him,staff who aren’t up to the job, problematic cash-flow and a feeling that it’s time to call it a day as he’s no longer enjoying the business. 

Alex decides he wants to sell the business, but after a conversation with his business adviser realises that, in its current state, the business is worth nothing as it fully relies on him. 

The story then follows the steps his business adviser leads him through to turn the business into a highly successful agency which sells for over $5million in less than 2 years.

You will not be surprised to hear, as it’s me that’s reviewing the book, that the success of Alex’s business is due in no small part to a single process that he wrote, implemented and then brought staff in to manage and execute on a daily basis.

This book is a really easy read and, if you want to grow your business and/or release your time, it’s an informative book that will help you think through the changes you need to make in your business to reach your goal. 

When you’ve finished the story, in the back of the book there are 8 steps for you to follow to turn your business round in the same way as Alex Stapleton did.

If you are thinking of selling your business, you can visit www.sellabililtyscore.com to take a free questionnaire that will analyse how saleable your business currently is.  Also follow www.builttosell.com/blog.

 

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Why you should ask your team for help

 

About a month ago I spent 2 days at the Entrepreneurs Circle Millionpound Masterplan event as ‘Nige’s Process Expert’.  

The energy at these events is always fantastic, with around 100 businesses in the room planning—and making– their next moves to grow their businesses and become super-successful.

I was lucky enough to speak to about 20 business owners over the 2 days, all of whom recognised the need to get their businesses more systemised and process-driven, in order to enable the growth they are looking for.

The other common thread, at least between the business owners who already have a team around them, was the question about how they get the rest of the team on board with the need to have processes in place.  This is a really important point, as a process library is of little use if no-one looks at it!

I think the key here is to involve the team in creating the process library.  You’re the business owner, so ultimately you have the final say and nothing is going to get developed that you aren’t happy with, but there is much to be gained from involving the people “at the coal face” when you are formalising the processes you expect them to carry out.

Firstly you need to explain why this is important for you, the business, and ultimately for them (a super-successful business is far more likely to be able to offer them development and job opportunities and pay –rises!).

Secondly you need to explain that you need their help in developing the processes as they have valuable experience in their roles (a bit of buttering up never went amiss!).

There are 2 key reasons why this is a good idea:

  1. They have experience of what it’s like to carry out the task—what is feasible and what just isn’t workable.  Assuming you have employed the right people, their experience and insight, added to yours, should make your process bomb-proof.  Of course, if you are faced with someone fobbing you off with excuses about why nothing is going to work, you may need to consider the possibility that they are not the right person for the job.

  2. The second reason is about making your life easier.  If they’ve been involved in creating the process they are much more likely to be happy to use them and they should have no excuses such as ‘they don’t work’, as they have helped write them and agreed they were workable.

The take-away for businesses who don’t yet have a team around them, is that creating the processes before you recruit will save you this head-ache, as the staff will come into a process-driven environment and it will therefore be normal practice for them.

Of course this approach will help with any other type of changes you’re thinking of making in your business.  People are naturally nervous of things changing, so getting them involved and asking their opinions will help to make it  easier as they will feel more involved  and in control.

 

 

 

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Book of the month - The E-Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber

The E-Myth Revisited sat on my bookshelf for several years, unread.  Then a couple of years ago I finally got round to reading it, and it changed my business!

Gerber talks about systems and processes and it completely made sense to me.  I had a business (a virtual office) which had procedure and instruction manuals in place, because that’s how my head works. 

So how did it change my business if I was already doing it?

At the time I was creating processes each time we took on a new client—so we all knew the flow of work and who was responsible for doing what.  It was only when I read The E-Myth that I realised what I was doing, whilst it might be common-sense to me, was of value to a business—and I was doing it for free as part of the sign-up process for a new client!  And so The Office Fixer was born. 

But back to the book.  What exactly is Gerber saying about, what I have christened, ’processorising’?

He talks about the Turn-Key Revolution and the Franchise business model.  Going against the grain of popular belief, that success lies in the product, the Turn-Key/Franchise model believes that the success lies in the business itself and therefore the way it runs is paramount to it’s success. 

His example through-out the book is MacDonalds and Gerber suggests that all small businesses should set themselves up as though they are going to franchise, whether or not they are.  By this he means that the business should be reliant on it’s processes not it’s people, so that it can be replicated many times and still offer the same standards of service. 

Earlier in the book Gerber has explored the battle that goes on inside most small business owners.  The battle is between the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician that lie inside all of us.

It is likely that most people have set up their business because they are good at whatever it is the business is specialising in—photography, car maintenance, building websites, etc.  This inevitably leads to a constant battle between spending time working IN the business as a technician, rather than ON the business as a manager and looking forward as an entrepreneur.

By having processes and systems in place, you are able to get other people working IN the business which allows you to spend time working ON the business, growing the business and if appropriate expanding into new areas.  

In the final section of the book Gerber takes you through a system to build a small business that works.  He starts with your ’primary aim’ and then goes through 6 different strategy areas, all the while following the story of Sarah from ‘All About Pies’, who he introduces at the beginning of the book.

I would strongly recommend that any business owner who wants to move beyond just having themselves in the business, invests in this book and takes on board the concepts it presents—even if you don’t want to franchise the  model.

 

 

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