In this week’s newsletter, I’ll cover why documenting the processes of your business is an essential step that you simply cannot miss.
Yes, it will take some time but in the long run, you and your company will reap the benefits.
You might think that this is not something that a startup just kicking off would really need to think about but trust me you cannot afford to overlook documenting every single business process you have.
Any successful company documents the processes they use to run their business to help identify where they’re spending their time and how things can be improved.
So let’s get to it!
Most first-time founders are flying blind which means success is almost solely based on luck.
As a founder, you have to wear so many hats to get the job done.
You’re busy managing product development, building customer relationships, and hunting down investors so you don’t run out of cash to fuel your vision.
This is a syndrome that almost every founder experiences in the beginning. It’s overwhelming and easy to get caught up simply putting out fires all day long.
Until the day comes that those fires stop appearing and your business is dead. Because you focused on the wrong things and dealt with the right things inefficiently.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper into how to avoid this by documenting your processes.
Processes fuel innovation
You may think that innovation is simply connected to creativity and free thinking. That the lack of structure actually helps innovation.
And it can but processes help provide an important structure behind innovation to help make it repeatable and guide you along the process.
Innovation is about incremental improvements in how we do things and nothing can really be improved unless it’s written down.
You probably already have good processes in place for the essential elements of your business such as customer development, product development, and fundraising.
Documenting all of these helps to maximize the potential of each process while at the same time keeping the entire team on the same page, literally!
Supporting Thinking Long-term
It’s a fact that simply “doing” something is easier than planning for something in the future.
And as a founder, there are plenty of things and people dragging you in every single direction possible.
But remember, the aim is not to be a “startup” for very long. To be successful you’ll want to grow this business and take on new people.
To do that you need to make sure you’re moving in the right direction in the long term.
To help plan for this growth there needs to be clear documentation of all processes.
This helps any new hire understand how their responsibilities connect to the strategic objectives of the company and most importantly clarity on processes helps them become more effective for your company faster.
This is exactly what Mathyas the CEO of El Origen Food did with his startup. He started that business during COVID and grew to 6,000 stores in the space of 2 years.
A cornerstone of his success related to his attention to detail on all the processes involved in his business.
Document to plan, learn and grow your business.
You can check out my podcast with him here for more info.
Identify patterns in your business
An important part of documenting any process is estimating the time it takes to implement it.
This data can be an absolute eye opener for founders when you document your most important process and see, based on the hard data, where you’re actually spending a majority of your time.
I almost guarantee that most of your time is not spent on the mission-critical things that drive the growth of your business.
I got caught with this recently when I looked at my process for producing all my content. A majority of my time was spent recording content separately each day instead of batching it at the weekend.
I’ve been spending so much time making content that I’ve been neglecting actually running my business.
But it isn’t just how you allocate your time.
Documenting processes helps you to identify how processes could be improved like how I’m moving to batch record my content to free up time during my work week for coaching, course development and admin.
Having something written down helps to provide clarity and make it real. Only then can you start to ask the important questions like
- How could this process be optimized?
- Can some aspects of this process that takes a considerable amount of time be automated or delegated?
- Does this process actually support our vision of the company and generate revenue?
Patterns are tricky to identify without any data.
Documenting your processes helps to provide a base for data collection which you can then use to identify patterns in your business that can be optimized or removed.
Processes in action.
Here’s a quick example of how something as boring as processes may actually help you create an awesome business.
I recently chatted with Ukrainian founder Alyona from FuelFiance (check the podcast here). They’re fully bootstrapped and managing over $250m for their clients.
FuelFiance started off consulting startups and small businesses to help them better understand and manage their finance. Soon they saw patterns in the core problems their clients had so they created simple excel templates and processes that enabled better visualization of data for their clients.
This later evolved into more complex Google Sheet templates with some automated processes on the back end which provided even more value for their customers.
In the end, this became the basis for their SAAS product (and yes they still use Google sheets as the front end) which has helped them significantly accelerate their growth.
Processes don’t have to remain an internal thing for your business. It can also be leveraged to better support your customers and grow your business that way.
Just like Alyona did with FuelFiance by iterating on their processes of how they work with and support clients.
To get you started don’t overthink this. More than likely you already have some sort of process in place for your startup’s customer development and product development.
Start there and simply document what you already do.
That’s the point, to just get the first version of your process written down.
Just have a process in writing and work from there to improve it bit by bit.
That’s all for this week.
I hope you got some value from this newsletter!
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