So, you’ve committed to starting a business. But, there are some basic questions that keep popping in your head – like, how do you run a business; what do you do every day, is there some sort of structure or can you just do what you want when you want to.
Well the answer to that is yes, and yes.
I know, we’ve all heard it, I want to be my own boss, have my own schedule, work when and where I want to. And all of that is a reality of owning a business. But another reality is, you may be your own boss, but your clients are your bosses too – and if you have employees, you’ll have accountability to them as well.
The fact is, as a business owner, you’ll still be held accountable to someone – actually probably multiple someones. And that accountability will help shape the choices you make.
Of course, you can run your business any way you want, but I suggest that you design your process and policies before you just find yourself reacting to circumstances.
First off, structure your time. Decide when you are going to work, have a schedule. That gives you and your clients, clear visibility into when you are available, and it allows you a framework for organizing your time.
If you just get up when you get up, decide to work some days one week and then completely different days another it’s going to be a recipe for disaster. Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have flexibility – but if you’re going to flex, you need to be flexing from something. If you don’t have a baseline, that’s not flexibility, it’s chaos.
So, set a schedule for yourself. Oh sure, you may extend some working hours one day and shorten them the next; or even take some days off (wouldn’t that be nice) –that’s where the flexibility comes in. But you need to start with a schedule
Next – design a process.
Create processes for your business – that’s the only way you can be sure things are happening in the same way each time – consistency. You need internal consistency – because it makes sure none of the balls get dropped, and people can get easily trained on what they have to do and when they have to do it, in short, internal consistency just makes your life easier.
“…structure your time. Decide when you are going to work, have a schedule. That gives you and your clients, clear visibility into when you are available...“
And, you need external consistency. If you go to a Starbucks in China, you know what to expect. That’s external consistency, that’s branding. When your customer knows what to expect, the quality of your product or service, how you communicate, what your business stands for – that consistency is the bedrock of your brand. And that comes with good processes.
Take a look at the episodes on Branding and Creating a Deluxe Client Experience for a deeper dive on the subject.
Now, hand in hand with having a good process, is having good policies. If a process is the how, a policy is the rule. And again, you need internal and external policies – and again, for consistency. An example of an internal policy might be – we only work with domestic clients. You see, that rule helps inform all sorts of other things. We don’t have to worry about being available for international time zones, or GDPR, or foreign currencies and on and on.
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And of course, if when you have a team or employees, you’re going to need policies to help them navigate their day. When they need to be available, when they get paid, when you’ll have meetings etc.
One other thing about both policies and processes – they’re nothing if they don’t live.
If you just create something, put it in a binder on a shelf, and never refer to it again – it doesn’t do anyone any good. Make sure your processes and policies are easily available to you and your team – that usually means they live somewhere in the cloud, that you train people on them, and that they get updated to meet changing needs.