Have you heard the expression, “If you want something done right, then you better do it yourself?” It’s a fallacy. The realization that I couldn’t grow the business with this mindset was an epiphany for me. I was working with a sales trainer at the time, as I felt this was where my time should be focused. As a result, I was struggling to find enough hours in the day, since I was also micro-managing much of the business, from admin to engineering.
It was the sales trainer who asked me, “Why?” Why was I doing all of this? I clearly remember blurting out, “Because they don’t do it how I would.” From here on out, the only micro-managing I did was working with the team to create processes for anything and everything that was a recurring event within the business. This now sets clear expectations of the needs and requirements when onboarding new employees, creating accountability and providing a clear roadmap to the Visualization way. We pride ourselves on being process-driven and regularly add, review, and update to keep processes current.
A key extension to the processes are the managers within the team. Trust and acceptance that not all things are going to be done exactly how you would — but getting done nevertheless — is a key tool which is essential to growth.
Two processes we’ve used to great effect at Visualization are:
KPIs — Key Performance Indicators allow us to measure, analyze, and continuously tweak key elements of the business, increasing efficiencies.
KRAs — Key Related Areas has revolutionized the focus of our staff, ensuring everyone knows what they should be accountable for and focussing on and redirecting what they shouldn’t.
Planning is key to any business. In the early stages, I was focused on the short term, but over time and with growth, I found this transitioned to mainly focusing on the long term. I can’t stress enough — the long term is only possible if you are planning and managing the short term, so moderation is key.
Too often people spend all their time planning and never doing.
Grow Your Business By:
• Understanding how to hire
• Creating a culture behind a business
• Who and what to outsource
• Tracking the right things
• Empowering others to allow you to focus on key result areas
• Planning the big and the small things
• Leveraging experience from others
It has been said that there are two types of people that go into business — the salesperson and the engineer. The salesperson is great at finding opportunities, but how do they deliver the project? The engineer loves what they do, but how do they deal with sales and capacity constraints?
As someone who fits into the latter category, I’d like to a few other keys I’ve learned during my time running a business.
Never an easy task, hiring is something we are still trying to perfect internally. We’ve got a great training and development process for the early year trainees, but often find it hard to retain staff in the long-term after spending significant resources to develop their fundamental knowledge. The one thing I have learned is not to rush the interview process. A short telephone interview is a great way to ask a couple of key questions and raise any initial concerns on the CV without ruling out an individual too early on. Leading questions looking for traits and characteristics that match the job role and even a practical assessment will give you the best chance of finding a fit for the business.
Remember all new hires require a period to onboard and need their hand held while they get up to speed. If you’re struggling to retain staff early on, you may be missing one of these points.
I’m not sure when it first became apparent that “culture” within the business was important, but it is a fundamental element for staff retention and belonging. We’d all love a Google culture, but this can’t be bred overnight. I recently read a LinkedIn post from a company owner who said he had “created” the culture within his business. I really feel while it is the obligation of the business owner to influence the culture, it takes the team to create one. A couple of favorites at Visualization are “Filthy Friday” (which involves indulging in a takeout lunch), a game of pool now and then, and the occasional “beer o’clock” at 4 p.m.
Outsourcing can be a great asset to a business, both limiting overhead and increasing efficiency. It’s key you don’t do this “backwards.” During the early years, I often focused my time on key responsibilities that I neither enjoyed nor was proficient in and hired subcontractors to assist in core business functions. In later years, I learned to keep my focus on our core business and leverage the skillsets and efficiencies of others, including outsourced accountancy and virtual administration.
Learning and Development
For the learning and development of the team to be effective, it must start and continue with the owner. For the initial years, and at times after that, they will be the driving force behind development. As per outsourcing, ensure you’re not wasting excess time learning outside your core area of business, but are continually seeking to improve your knowledge.
Running a business is fundamentally managing people, so no amount of time spent on this subject will be without gain. This can come from books, mentors, blogs, etc.
We are very proficient at taking entry-level employees and imparting a massive amount of knowledge over their first six months to maximize their value. This hasn’t always been the way. Around seven years ago, we identified a lack of a clear process to bring new starters up to speed. Rather than leaving them to just learn on the job, we identified the key requirements they needed to know and structured repetitive training in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles.
Within our long-term development process, we conduct annual reviews looking at where expectations are being met from both sides and where training and personal development should be implemented for progression.
Additionally, we are constantly looking at industry certification that will add credentials to our team — and thus add value to our business.
We don’t have all the answers, and there’s not always time to learn them for ourselves, so don’t be afraid to take a shortcut. In recent years, my team and I have found that finding mentors is a great way of mining info from others’ experiences — and mistakes — to use it to our advantage. www.avrackbuild.com