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Practical Business Tactics You Can Use to Help You Work on Your Business - Not in it!

Practical Business Tactics You Can Use to Help You Work on Your Business - Not in it!

May 28, 2008

It's time to download all that knowledge in your head so others can do the work you've been doing all this time. You can't do it all. And you shouldn't even try to do it all - if you want to grow your business.

Let others do the work that you've been doing so you can free yourself from working in the business. You want to work on the business - not in it! The solution: Freedom Teams.

A freedom team is a group of people and a set of systems that give you the freedom to do what you love and to do those things you're great at. A freedom team allows you to work in your core competency, leverage it, and outsource or delegate the rest. It also allows you to take advantage of your biggest asset -- your business processes and intellectual capital.

What if you don't have a freedom team?

Grow or die. Those are the two options you have in business. If you don't build a freedom team, you're less likely to succeed. It's harsh, but the natural order of life is either to grow or die.

But before you can delegate those tasks to your freedom team, you have to put systems in place so others can do the work that needs to get done without you. My 3-step process will help you create the systems you need.

Step 1: Simplify
Step 2: Codify
Step 3: Multiply

I already talked about how to simplify everything as you write down the steps that you go through to accomplish certain tasks and projects (see the March issue in your archives online at www.BrandLauncher.com).

The next step is to codify your ideas into a system that others can apply. It's your responsibility to make sure people understand your processes and are able to implement them. The goal is to create manuals or sets of instructions your teams can follow without you.

The secret to codify your expertise

You probably already have ideas about how to get certain tasks or jobs done. For instance, you may be responsible for getting the marketing printed and out the door, but that's something you now want to delegate so you can focus on making sales calls. And when asked about how to get a job printed, you can probably get someone started in the right direction. But your goal is to share your knowledge with someone else so they can do it themselves.

You want to codify your knowledge. Think of codifying as pulling up a chair next to a student to teach him or her everything you know, step by step. It may sound overwhelming and it may even sound overwhelming to the person you will train. The secret is to break the process down into small steps.Here are four methods:
1. Scenario-building
2. Flow-charting
3. Mind-mapping
4. Brain-dumping

Scenario-building:
A system to build a knowledge base

Scenario building is a process that begins by asking as many questions as possible about your subject matter. Begin by simply jotting down one question after another about your topic. You can even have your colleagues or employees list their questions about the subject. Review the topic on Internet forums or in the FAQs on websites and see what questions others are asking. As you answer the questions, you begin to create a knowledge base.

Be sure to include objections and challenges that come up when asking your questions. For instance, if you had troubles sending high-resolution pdfs to the printer, you'll want to address that issue in your instructions.

Once you've gathered your questions, you can begin to answer them. As you do, you begin to build a series of scenarios that apply to your subject. And just as you did with your high school term paper, you should create an outline either before you answer the questions or as you're doing it. The outline will help you organize your thoughts and ideas into a manageable system.

I like to take my time recording my answers to the questions. For me, the best method is to write down my answers in a Word document on my computer. Whenever I come up with an answer or an issue to address, I codify it by putting it in the document. It's an ongoing process as I build my knowledge base.

Flow charting:
A powerful method of show 'n tell

Another favorite system-building tool I use is flow-charting. You simply take a process and diagram it using if-then scenarios. When finished, you'll have a very powerful visual that shows the end user how a process works.

This method is ideal for demonstrating a system that is mechanical or follows a series of steps every time it's done. It's especially useful if the process is the ideal way of doing something that should be done the same way every time to ensure no steps are missed along the way.

The flowchart shows the sequence of action within a process and can be referred to quickly and easily. You can either start at the beginning of a process and work your way through it, or begin at the end and work backwards. Most experts recommend you begin at the end so you have the goal in mind throughout the process. It's easy to get off track as you get into the details, so beginning with the final stage will often help you work through it with the end in mind.

I've included several examples of flowcharts that I created for real estate professionals on my website which I just didn't have room to include.
Go to www.YourBusinessGPS.com/resources.

Mind-mapping:
A tool that uses both sides of the brain

Mind-mapping is a term that is being used more and more, as this is another terrific brainstorming tool you can use to build your system. The idea is to write down a central idea and think of related ideas that stem from it.

You use the analytical side of your brain when jotting down the ideas and relationships, and you use the creative side of your brain when drawing related symbols or pictures to make the connections. By using both sides, you should have a free flow of ideas.

Here's how to mind-map:

1. Put the main idea in the center of the page. Turn the page in a 'landscape' style to give you the maximum amount of room to write the ideas as they come to you.
2. Write down your key idea. Then write down all the ideas, pictures or symbols that come to you as they relate to your central idea.
3. Draw and write quickly. This is a brainstorming session, so get your ideas down quickly, without editing or passing judgment. The point is to be creative and not think in a linear manner.
4. Leave lots of space. You may want to come back to your mind map over several days or weeks, so leave room to add more ideas over time. You may also want to highlight key ideas, add questions and make additional notes.
5. Look for relationships. As you go through the process, use colors, lines, arrows, symbols or pictures to show connections between ideas. These relationships may be important as you construct your system.

This is a free-flowing tool. There is no right or wrong way of doing this exercise. When finished, look for the connections or categories of relationships. Use these connections then to construct an outline for your system.

There are lots of programs that you can purchase to mind map, but I've found most of them uselss. The whole idea is to create a free-flow of ideas but when you start putting rules to it, I find it defeats the purpose. For a sample of one we've created, go to
www.YourBusinessGPS.com/resources.

Brain-dumping:
The ultimate free-flowing tool

This last method is another favorite of mine and has proved tremendously valuable. This method is quite simple. You just 'dump' all of your knowledge and expertise as it comes to you. Don't hold anything back.

You can either write it down or tell someone and have them record it. I like to use a dictation service (for details call Pamela McQuay at 866-267-9825 ext. 448 and tell her I referred you so you can get a deep discount). When creating my books, I record all of my thoughts on the subject and give it to a dictation service for them to turn into a document I can edit.

Try one of these four methods as you codify your processes. Use the one you feel most comfortable with. Remember, take small steps. If you're creating a system on handling orders, break it down into the major steps: (1) sales, (2) payment processing and (3) fulfillment. Then, break each one of those three areas into actionable steps. Keep breaking the process down into more and more steps until there are no more. Real estate investor and guru Dave Lindahl keeps track of any mistakes he makes in his business and then creates a system so he doesn't repeat the same mistake.

Attorney Jeff Lerman found that the easiest way to transfer his knowledge into a system is to create a webinar and record it. He suggests that you have someone interview you on a specific topic for 60 minutes. 'That way you just talk for an hour on something you already know, and you create a PowerPoint,' he says. All the systems he's developed have been born out of webinars he's created.

Step 3: Multiply

The final step in the process is to multiply your system; reproduce it in a manual or a set of documents for others to refer to again and again.
I'll admit that this process may seem like a loss of time and money, and many people don't take the time to do it. But I can assure you that if you do take the time to codify and document every process that you do, it will eventually pay for itself 100-fold!

If you try to teach each person separately how to do something, you'll never have real leverage. You have to assume that many of the people you hire will eventually leave or will move on to other positions, and therefore all the time you spent training them is not leveraged. By creating good, documented training, you will have invested your time wisely, leading you to greater leverage. If you don't have good documentation and codification in place, you'll never achieve leverage.