OK, I know you started your small business to make your dream come true.
You had a vision of “the best” business in what it is that you do, you saw your future and saw that your successful business would be something you would be proud of, where you enjoyed working, and that brought you the rewards you and your family deserve, especially to have more time together to enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
But be honest, somewhere in that dream you also saw your successful small business grow into an empire right? You saw yourself, at the height of the success of your business, killing it with new and innovative products and services, with happy, productive people working in all corners of the business empire satisfying customers across the nation, if not the globe. Right?
But if you’ve been building your business over the last 5 or 6 years, and you’ve been successful in building sales, you probably know that the building of the “empire” is going to be a bit tough! Because no matter how good your product or service is and how well-received it has been, getting the right people to help you in all the places and doing the right thing has not been easy. Without you, let’s be honest, standards would slip. Without you, the office wouldn’t even be cleaned properly, the telephone answered with a little less conviction. Without you, the customers would not experience the amazing sales and satisfaction journey that you provide.
So, how do you build that business empire where you have the right people employed in all the right places, and they are all doing the right things over and over again?
There are three critical things you need to implement.
The first is how to find the right people who fit in with your way of doing things.
The second is to create your organisation chart as if your empire had already been built so that you identify who you need and where they sit in the overall structure – from the beginning.
The third is to build a complete set of systems and procedures so that you can train once, switch on, and let the people run the business, your way.
I have already written about the first principle of finding the right people suited to the way you do things around here. You can read about how you interview new hires to make sure that they “fit” here.
I have also written about the third principle, and you can read about it here (NEWSFLASH! Keep your eyes open, in fact, sign on to get my newsletters because I will be going in-depth in the future about how you build your turnkey business and sit back to watch it all purr!).
This week though, I wanted to take you through the population of an organisation chart, so that you define what your business staffing arrangements will look like from the very beginning, and then build your empire by finding the right people to fit into the anticipated positions, rather than create positions to fit your staff.
After all, you already know what that’s like.
I daresay all small businesses start with a great vision, but without mapping out what the staffing structure will look like when the business is “successful”. So, you probably started your small business on your own or at least with your wife. Maybe you even started with one employee, or soon after opening you hired someone. Initially, it was about what you could afford.
In those early days, everyone did everything. You came in early and opened the premises. Your spouse accompanied you and did some cleaning up in readiness for the first customer of the day. If it was their day off, you did the cleaning. Then your new employee came in and started answering the phones while you went through the mail. If you were busy, your spouse answered the mail and email. Your employee was sometimes in the stock room so you answered the phone. When you were with a customer, your employee fielded another customer’s questions. At the end of the day, you entered the day’s transactions into the books. After some time you built trust with your employee and showed her how to keep the books so that you had some backup.
It all goes well.
Then you grow and you get busy.
You hire a second employee, and then a third.
You all still “muck in” but things start to become a bit confused.
First, you find that you don’t have as much time to spend with customers because you were supervising what the new staff did, making sure they did it right. A customer’s query was not answered because you thought someone else would do it and they thought you would. One morning you arrive late and the premises had not been cleaned – everyone else thought you or your spouse was doing it earlier but didn’t think to do it when you didn’t show (even though they were willing). Your trusted employee failed to enter last night’s sales even though she entered all the supplier invoices – since you did the sales the night before she thought you would do them again last night.
Does this strike a chord? That’s how small businesses tend to grow.
The worrying thing is that this confusion even starts when everyone is truly willing to help and work and do anyone else’s part. It’s just that people got confused about who did what and when.
So, like all small businesses, you try to fix it. Now that you know the personalities of the 2 or 3 people who work for you, you make Jonesy in charge of sales and Sheila in charge of the books and phones. You decide you need to look after suppliers and customer service.
But while Jonesy is good at one-to-one sales, he’s not great at writing up ads or creating ways to meet new customers. However, Sheila is excellent at that and so you put her in charge of marketing. Jonesy, on the other hand, has developed a real nose for finding a good deal, so you take supplier contact off yourself and give it to him.
Things seem to be going well – until Sheila decides to leave.
OK, no problem, you just replace her.
Then the difficulties start. Because when you start to advertise and interview for her position, you find it very difficult to find one person who knows enough about bookkeeping to keep the books, is good at marketing, and can keep customers happy on the phone. You can’t quite afford to hire 3 people to replace her, so you move jobs around. The new replacement just answers phones and keeps the books. He’s not as good at keeping customers happy on the phone so that task gets spread around between him, you and Jonesy. A few calls get lost but well, you get that when you grow, right? Jonesy is still not good at marketing so you take it on.
Then Jonesy resigns.
Get the picture?
It does not make for a smooth journey – and it almost certainly means you are looking after almost everything in the business. No wonder you feel that you’re working hard every day but not getting any closer to that successful business you can be proud of!
So, what should happen?
Imagine a business where you have thought of all the functions that need to be looked after – Sales, Marketing, Production, Customer Service, Premises Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance, Supplier Engagement and Buying, Administration, Finances and books, and so on. Imagine that business where each position within those functions is organised and set out so that when you can afford to find the right people, you advertise knowing what they have to do and you slot them in. Until then, some people take on several positions at the same time – you know, and they know, that they are temporarily wearing several hats but that one day as the business grows they will hand over some of those hats until you have one person for each position. Imagine that business when someone leaves – no confusion, you know exactly who you are looking for as a replacement, and you replace people for skill, not for personality or willingness to work multiple tasks.
So, how do you get this to take place?
These are the steps.
First, you have to start at the beginning, before the confused hat-wearing starts. Recognise that at the beginning multiple people must wear multiple hats, but keep them based on functions and not personalities or willingness. It’s not too late to start in your growth phase either, just start early enough so that you don’t have to resolve entrenched positions.
The second step is to draw your ultimate organisation chart. An organisation chart is simply a diagram of how your staff are organised.
Start completely afresh. Put the names (and personalities and skills) of your existing employees completely out of your mind, or you will be tempted to create illogical positions just to fit them in.
Imagine your ultimate company where everything has been built and works. Put “the boss” at the top, calling the position CEO or Managing Director or just Owner – whatever is appropriate for you. Then under the boss, draw the functional areas in your business in logical “departments”. For example, in some businesses, it makes sense to split “Sales” from “Marketing” but in others, it makes sense to put them into the same functional area. Think about how your ultimate business works, and what components are needed to make it work.
Next, look at each functional area or department in turn and decide how many people you need in it and what they are doing. So, in Sales and Marketing, there may be a Sales and Marketing Manager, an Administrative Assistant (Secretary) to help with administration and assist the rest of the team, a marketing person who will be responsible for marketing plans, writing copy for ads, and implementing marketing activities. You will probably need Sales Persons – how many? Maybe one to cover each region you intend to operate in?
Carry on in this way to populate each of the functions or departments. Keep in mind your vision of how the business works and services customers – will your design be efficient and meet your objectives of serving the customer?
The next step (still ignoring who you currently employ) is to write the position descriptions for every position on your organisation chart.
A position description is a statement that identifies the title of the position, their main objective for working in the business, who they report to and who reports to them, who else they engage with, their responsibilities and daily duties, and if possible, how their performance will be measured.
If you take the example of the Sales Person in charge of, say, the Northern Region, their position statement may look something like this: –
- Title: Sales Person Northern Region
- Objective: To generate sales from the Northern Region
- Reports to: Sales & Marketing Manager
- Receives Reports from: Not applicable
- Engages with: Customers in the Northern Region, Administrative Assistant, Marketing Person
- Responsibilities: Responsible for all sales and potential sales in the Northern Region, Maintain sales and CRM records daily, Meet with Sales & Marketing Manager weekly to provide written report on prospects, Receive latest marketing initiatives from Marketing Person and discuss with Sales & Marketing Manager on how this will be implemented in the North, Follow up with customers on a monthly basis and provide feedback to the Sales & Marketing Manager or into the CRM.
- Performance Measurement: Annual review of sales growth (target 15% per annum); annual review of customer satisfaction (target 90%)
Then, and only then do you bring your current staff into the picture and ask, in this time of limited resources and ignoring their personalities but taking into account their skills and experiences, which “hats” can they wear for now in logical groupings.
If you do this properly, one person should not be “Bookkeeper” and “Sales & Marketing Manager”. However, it may make sense to have one person wearing all the Sales & Marketing Department’s hats for now.
And, do you want to know the truth? In the beginning, the “boss” is probably the one who wears the most hats, but you knew that already!
But here is the kicker – the key to making this work is first, to be thoughtful every time there is a change in staff. Do not allow yourself to fall into temptation and stick a hat on to someone willing or who seems to like the hat. Make changes based on logic. Second, take these early days as the shake-down period. This is the time where you “shakedown” all these positions. People test them and make suggestions about fine-tuning position descriptions and how they work together, and where everyone starts to write an orderly record of the tasks and processes they take to do their jobs.
You must intentionally look to add new people to positions so that the incumbent who “shook down” the position is able to hand over that particular hat, along with a proven position description and a set of procedures and task lists to the new recruit. Gradually, with intention, you build your empire by having your existing staff hand over hats to new recruits.
This has the added advantage of showing your staff that there is a progression they can take. As the business grows and where they help the business to grow, not only do they relieve themselves of some hats as it gets busier, they can also see their promotion pathway. This should be a motivational factor for them.
So, to recap: –
- Start now!
- Start afresh.
- Group your functions into departments.
- Populate those departments with positions.
- Describe every position by using a position description statement.
- Populate those positions with existing staff.
- Use this opportunity to fine-tune and create procedures manuals.
- Intentionally grow by recruiting new people into stated positions and have the incumbent hand over.
If you want to work through your own organisation chart, I have a free download available that provides you with an information pack about organisation charts, and a worksheet for you to map out your business empire. You can get it here.
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See you next week!