One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen businesses make and the reason I’ve failed in the past is a lack of processes. It’s not that you don’t have processes. You have a process for answering a support ticket, but if the process is in your head, then you’re thinking about doing all the work yourself, not about scaling.
To start and truly think about scaling your business you need a plan, and a team, and a set of processes. These processes don’t need to be tight yet, and they just need to exist. As soon as they’re out of your head and being used by your team is when you can start to optimize them. The optimization is the most important part because you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
When something goes wrong in your business — whether it’s a huge data loss or just a mistake in marketing email — what’s to blame? Without processes, you don’t know. You can’t take a step towards fixing the problem because you’re in the dark about it. With a process, the problem is either;
- The process isn’t being followed closely, or
- The process has holes in it.
By having a process, you’re narrowing the problem down to just areas, and both are easily fixed.
While I was running my first internet business and working with a virtual team from a number of different countries, I found that the reason mistakes were made, and the thing to blame for difficulty managing these team members was that there was no central resource for them to refer to when executing a task. If everything is just misremembered email hearsay, how are they going to be able to work consistently?
It was this problem that drove me to create Process Street — a way to create, track and collaborate over process documents.
If you think you don’t need processes as a solopreneur or a tight-knit team of 3, you’re wrong. You’re not going to be a team of 1 or 3 forever. At some point, you’re going to expand and find that you’re lacking the documents to train new hires and that everything you do is executed from memory.
What would you prefer: writing processes at your own pace as you go along, or being forced to write them all at once when you make your first hire?
Processes aren’t just for huge, unwieldy enterprises. They’re for everyone, at every stage of growth.
By- Vinay Patankar, CEO of Process Street, is an ex-digital nomad and startup growth specialist. He manages recurring processes for teams and turns businesses into automated, self-growing machines.