In this article, the author shares some thoughts as she tries to work towards expanding her business.
The title of this article might be a bit confusing. You might be wondering- why would we not allow our business to grow in the first place? That’s a good question because it’s a very subconscious process that prevents a business from developing and growing. Running a business to eventually grow on its own means detaching yourself from being an integral part of the systems and processes. In this article, I talk about some of the ways we subconsciously suppress our business’s growth and what steps we can take to counterattack that. In essence, expansion cannot happen until systems and processes are in place and until the business can function on a day-to-day basis without you.
In a small business that is started by one individual, the early days and even the first couple of years are characterized by you and your business somehow being one. As the business is your brainchild, you channel all your ideas and systems into it and naturally as the days progress these business systems (such as order-taking methods, accounting, client tracking), become an automatic process to you. The side effect, however, is that these processes become so heavily dependent on you that relinquishing control over them is a long-winded process, which could hinder the expansion process.
Expanding your business will naturally require the addition of more staff to your operations but before that happens it is important to first have a “shadow” staff member already in your team. That staff member should be responsible for shadowing you and learning the ropes so that the processes become more automated. Having that staff member with you from before the expansion-conception stages take place is vital. The training process will be a natural one over time where the systems and processes can refine themselves through trial and error.
Second, and speaking of systems and processes, it is important to establish clear guidelines for your business’s systems and processes. The best way to do this is to basically develop a “recipe book” of everything entailed in running your business. It is not a training handbook but a list of every process that takes place in your business, such as mundane individual tasks like tallying credit card receipts, with clear and explicit instructions for how to go about each task. That way, it can be passed on to the shadow staff member who will then be able to better handle running the daily intricacies of the business.
This is a gradual process and the aim is to reach the point where things should function almost automatically without you needing to be there to actively make that happen. That doesn’t in any way mean not to be directly involved in the business. It is simply a way for the basic functions of your business to be independent of you- leaving you to simply oversee, and subsequently spend most of your time focusing on the expansion process.