Build a Solid Foundation for your Business

Starting and growing a small business is an exciting time for any entrepreneur. Anywhere in the world really, but especially here in South Africa in the context of our ever-changing socio-economic climate. Whilst there is so much potential for any business to launch, scale and grow with great success, there’s also the uncertainty of whether your dream will become a reality with such unpredictable influences they will need will need to navigate in order to survive.  

That's all the reason any business owner needs to make sure they have a solid foundation of smooth operating practices underlying the company at all times.

Here are just a few important things an entrepreneur should consider when starting or growing a new business:

MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT'S EXPECTED OF THEM

I find one of the most important things in a business is making sure that people know what is expected of them. What's expected of them in their roles, what they are accountable for, what is going well, and what's not going so well. Doing so enables them to control their ability to make a difference in your business and feel that they are contributing to a greater purpose. These expectations relate to everyone, especially management. Sharing those expectations across the business so that everyone can see them and hold them accountable for his or her delivery.

"Be ok with not being right all the time"

Many business owners feel that they know the best way to do things. There are however so many moving parts, such as company and people dynamics, that owners and management need to be able to admit when something is failing or not doing so well. Give it your best effort, but if it doesn't work, be ok with needing to change and improve operationally in order to find the best solution that works for your specific needs. Even if it's someone else who comes up with the solution.

DEFINE HOW THINGS NEED TO GET DONE

Its critical that every business has a process which people and teams can follow. When work is being done, no matter the nature of that work, it's important that there is a clear map of how it all operates. In the absence of this clear guide for in your business, the workflow will be inefficient, information will get lost and things will be falling through the cracks constantly. Sounds like chaos to me!

With this in mind, make sure you document how it all works. This documentation allows your people little room for things to go wrong or miscommunicated. 

When developing operational guides for your business, try and have a look into the future. What does that mean? If you have a vision, a plan for where you want the business to go, you will likely have a vision of how things will be changing as it matures. Try and create systems and processes that will be able to withstand those future changes with as little disruption to the effective flow of work as possible. Doing so will allow future changes to be just adjustments and not complete overhauls. The latter is usually a very disruptive exercise for your any business.

BUILD A FAMILY, NOT A BUSINESS

This doesn't mean that you need to go and hire your family! It means that the people that you get into your business from the very start should be those that you want with you as your business grows. People you can trust to go through all ups and downs, are the best at what they do and have the best interest of your business in mind. Then leverage their strengths and what it is they are passionate about. Amazing things will happen! 

ASK FOR CONSTANT FEEDBACK

Nothing is constant besides change. Any business that believes that it can continue to maintain any level of operational success without adjustment to internal and external influences, is destined for failure. As a business gets bigger, the ability for one person to keep an eye on all the moving parts will become increasingly unrealistic. Asking for feedback from people in different parts of your business is essential for the ongoing assessment of the state of your operations.

DON'T HIDE ANYTHING

I really really REALLY believe in the power of transparency. Being open about the performance of the various areas in your business breaks down walls that compartmentalize the different areas. It increases understanding, which in turn nurtures collaboration between operating units in your business. This allows for cross-unit testing of processes and systems for the purpose of ongoing improvements in your business. 

LET THE DATA SPEAK FOR ITSELF

The absence of data to support change is called gambling! As there are so many factors influencing the performance of the operations in any business, it's of vital importance to get an objective view of the effectiveness of it all. Collect data to support how your operations are, or are not, working so well, and use that data to guide where change is needed. Creating any change to the operations in your business on the basis of opinion alone is a recipe for disaster. 

GET SOMEONE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS

It's understandable that as a business owner you are a bit of a control freak. I get it. It's your baby and wants to make sure that you control all areas so that nothing goes wrong. The reality is that if your business scales to any size you are not going to be able to control everything. You need to partner with someone you can trust to own the operations in your business from start to finish. Someone whom is up to the task and is obsessed with the details and the numbers. They should be goal oriented and inspired to run an effective operation that can adapt and delivery on the expectations of the business. 

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Just remember that the practical application of these recommendations will vary from business to business depending on its specific needs. When it comes to business operations, one size definitely does not fit all!



Writer: 
Robin Hook | Flusso Consulting | Founder