Process Prioritization

Category: Strategy

Yesterday a small business owner confided in me that she was positive that not having processes in place were holding her back, and yet she couldn’t seem to prioritize working on them. Have you ever felt this way?

After talking to many small business owners, I have discovered a few common reasons why creating processes get so little attention.

  • I don’t know how or where to start
  • It feels overwhelming
  • I hate creating processes, it’s tedious and boring (This is my usual excuse)
  • What’s the point?

Let me start by addressing the last excuse. What is the point of creating processes? As small business owners, processes serve three very important purposes:

  1. Save you time
  2. Provide consistency
  3. Enable you to grow and delegate

When you have a documented process, you save time by not having to reinvent the wheel because you now know what order the steps are best followed. Because you are not starting over or guessing, the services or products you provide become more consistent in their quality. Increased efficiency and consistency enables you to provide more services in less time which will increase your revenue producing ability, decrease waste and overhead costs, and therefore result in higher net income (which is your ultimate goal – not just revenues.)

Finally because you have documented procedures on how key processes are to be completed, it becomes easier to expand and train additional people on how to consistently provide the same level of service and quality you personally provided when you started. In other words, processes smooth over some of the growing pains associated with expansion.

Now that I have established the importance of processes, let’s address the how. Creating processes and procedures does not need to be overwhelming, tedious, or boring. I recommend starting off the documentation of processes by simply noting on a tablet the steps that you go through as you complete the task. My first processes are frequently just a checklist of things to complete in the order that they should be completed.

Once the process is created, have it typed up so that it is easier to read. And then the next time that you complete that same task, follow the list. Make notes in the margins as you go. Things you may note are:

  • Additional information that would make it easier to follow
  • The location of key information / forms / inputs
  • Adding missed steps
  • Changing the order of existing steps

In other words, don’t start with the idea that you are going to create the perfect process or procedure on the first attempt. Instead, see your processes as living and breathing creatures that will mature and change over time as you and your business grow. And remember, processes can be as detailed or general as desired. The level of detail included should be based on your needs, the frequency of the task (less frequent tasks require more detail), and the complexity of the task.

So what are you waiting for? What process can you start creating today? There is no time like the present to start.