Robby Slaughter, a principal with AccelaWork, strongly encourages entrepreneurs to create business process instructions. He believes, “you must have a system in order to have a business.”
Slaughter knows all about creating a company from the ground up. As an entrepreneur, he himself has seen the ins and outs of how to create a successful start up. From business plan implementation to successful failures, effective networking to process creation and improvement, he has experienced the full gamut of the business cycle. And, among all aspects of his mission, he continually discovers valuable lessons that help to further define his successes.
One lesson in particular he believes strongly: “one of the first steps to building a viable, sustainable business is creating instructions.” In his view, attention to this detail is the key to elevating your company from a freelancing gig to an actual business. In fact, on the Entrepreneurship Advancement Center blog, Slaughter relays to readers the different ways to document business processes:
- Written Manuals: These are the oldest and often easiest tools for communicating routine business activities. The upside to a written manual is that if you know what you are doing, you can probably describe it in written form. But the downside is that it takes a long time for people to read the manual and find what they need. Therefore, written documentation often gets ignored or forgotten.
- Visual Diagrams: There are many formal mechanisms for describing workflow using precise symbols, but a quick sketch of boxes and arrows goes a long way. You can draw pictures that explain major pieces and steps. And although an image may not have the precision of written instructions, it does enable rapid communication of key ideas.
- Video Instructions: With the advent of inexpensive video recording, it often makes sense to produce a short clip showing the best way for things to be done. While these do take some time to produce and to watch, they are often highly effective for people whose learn best when they see others work.
There’s no denying that creating a business is exhausting work. The 9 to 5 job where roles are specifically defined and project work is divided among a team is certainly not what you will find in the beginning. Yet, as an entrepreneur, shouldn’t one of your main goals be this? To elevate your business to a point where no longer are you a one-man team, but a viable company where your vision is accomplished on a larger scale? If so, consider Slaughter’s advice:
. . . if you ever want to be able to grow to involve more people, or of you ever want to sell your business to someone else, you need instructions.
Don’t know where to start? Reach out to AccelaWork to learn about our views on business process and documentation.