Process or Perish: It Can Make or Break You

Written by Lisa Zuba

Like a surgeon, a successful entrepreneur has a backup plan and a process.Simple Processes For Clarity & Prosperity

Who would have thought a simple hernia operation would have almost killed me? Not me, that’s for sure.

But who would have thought my well-respected trauma surgeon would make a life-threatening mistake — on my life — that caused me to have 5 surgeries, a stay in ICU, 4 weeks in hospitals and months of recovery?

Not me. I was supposed to be in and out in two days.

It wasn’t until the 9th doctor said to me, “I can’t believe you’re alive,” that I knew my world had changed. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew it was going to be big. I knew that my outlook on life had changed dramatically.

You see what happened with my surgeon was that he made a mistake. A slip of the scalpel. It happens.  But, what almost killed me was that my surgeon didn’t have a system — a process — to catch these life-threatening mistakes.

The idea of a surgeon not having a process for an emergency is shocking, right? A successful entrepreneur or sales professional without a process is equally dangerous to his/her success.

When something is wrong in your business (or your life, for that matter) it’s usually either because you don’t have a system OR your system is broken. Your lack of process might not kill someone, but it could cost you clients or employees or both!

As entrepreneurs, many of us are hardwired to leave the process-making to last on the list.

Our thought process goes like this:

“I know I need to create a hiring process, but I just met Suzy Q at this networking event, and I think she’d be a perfect sales rep for my company. I’m afraid if I don’t make her an offer now, I’ll lose her to a competitor.”

Or, “I know that creating an on-boarding process for new clients would help cement our relationship from the beginning, but I don’t have time for that. I need to spend my time doing the actual work for my client and marketing for get more clients.”

Even nonprofit organizations are victim to implementing this seat of your pants process — especially around fundraising.

Many a development director has faced board members who charge them with soliciting so-and-so because “he/she is very wealthy,” leaving the fundraising process the director painstakingly created in the trash.

One of the benefits to running your business with systems and process is more time.Process = More Money and Time

The three major benefits to a business that works with a process model is:

  1. Increased sales,
  2. More time; and
  3. More Clarity & Confidence.

Yes, that’s right, your sales will increase because once you have a methodical way of taking care of the repetitive, but important details, you’ll have more time to do the things you need to develop deeper relationships with clients. You’ll also have more time to attract your ideal client, rather than doing business with just anyone. You can focus on implementing a targeted marketing strategy that is right for you and your company.

A simple sales scripting template will ensure clarity and continuity in your pitch, a seamless “offer” process AND it allows you to jump right back on track when someone interrupts or derails you with a question!

Details such as welcoming a client, letting them know what to expect from your relationship or hiring a new employee will become second nature — even automated.

The result is that you’ll actually get more done in less time!

  • You’ll have time to build relationships with ideal clients leading to clients for life.
  • You’ll have time to grow employees into leaders.
  • You’ll have time for deep thinking to craft your overall business strategy.
  • You’ll have more time to devote to selling what it is you do.
  • You’ll have more time to do the quality work
What You Risk: (Everything!)

Without established processes, there are serious implications for your business or organization.

It might not be something you notice right away, but slowly the lack of processes can permeate and infect your sales numbers, your client retention, and your employee productivity and morale.

In other words, you could end up cutting your business into pieces. Just as if you lost control of a scalpel.

Like a surgeon, a successful entrepreneur has a back-up plan, and people ready to step in at any time to take over. Your business should include such a contingency system. Your legacy may depend on it.

At best, if you don’t create processes and systems, you’ll end up being in the same place next year. And why would you want to be in the same place?

Looking for Investors or Want to Sell Your Business

Having established processes in place makes your business more attractive to investors, lenders and even buyers.

Why would an investor want to inject cash into a company that runs sales, marketing, operations, and human resources by a seat-of-the-pants system? Even if you have tremendous profit numbers, investors don’t want to bet on you alone. Why would a buyer want a company that’s solely dependent upon you? What happens if you get hit by the proverbial bus?

Going to an investor or lender with systems in place puts you and your company in first place.

Be strong and resist the shiny object syndrome. It will take you away from your process.Be Strong and Resist

The shiny object on the other side of the room looks so attractive — especially to an entrepreneur. But until you have some basic processes created, it’s best to put your head down and ignore them.

Come back to the shiny object when your systems are routine.

What Process or System Do You Create First?

It seems — and it can be — overwhelming at the start. But, here is a simple process I advise my clients to use:

  • Identify three pain points: areas in your business that are causing you the most chaos and stress.
  • Work backwards: first figure out the result you want to achieve in each of those areas.
  • Create a flowchart of all the steps that need to be in your process to get where you want to be.

Create a flow chart to develop your business process.Once you have your flowchart, you can combine steps and identify which ones can be outsourced or delegated. Write down your process. Inform everyone in your organization who touches the process or result.

While the process can be changed and tweaked, make the idea of using a process a non-negotiable in your business.

Do You Need Help?

Can’t abide the idea of creating a system? Many of my clients at Zuba Academy take great comfort in following  simple systems for clarity, continuity and prosperity, but loathe the idea of creating one. If that’s you, I invite you to a complimentary Process Analysis consultation call. Click here to schedule.

Think about the systems in your work or life that aren’t serving you. That might be causing you chaos or stress. Know that you don’t need to wait for a life-threatening moment to make a positive change.

Life is good. Together we can make it great.