Business is good. It’s very good, in fact. You’ve been at it for a few years; your clientele is growing even faster than you imagined. Your core products are gaining in popularity, and you’ve just developed a whole new set of programs, products and services that everyone is excited about, and you pinch yourself every day to make sure this vision is really real.
And then, your best employee gets the opportunity of a lifetime, has to fly to Europe by next Monday, find a place to live and start her new job. You really hate to lose her, but you’re excited that her dream is coming true.
Over the next few days, you go about figuring out how you’re going to spread out her work until you can find a replacement. That’s when you realize that you never got around to making sure the procedures for all this fantastic new stuff you created were documented. Chaos is about to ensue.
Documentation is one of those subliminal things that can bring a business to its knees if it isn’t kept up to date. It isn’t sexy work and, pretty much no one wants to do it but, leave it out of the mix and you will pay the price, most likely at a time when you can least afford it.
Change is right up there with death and taxes and today’s smart business owners need to be nimble enough to roll with whatever punch it delivers. Whether it’s losing a key player at the most inopportune time or the excitement of realizing that now is the most advantageous time to sell your business, your documentation needs to be ready to support you and your staff.
Policies and procedures are the underpinning of your business. If they are inaccurate or worse, non-existent, your business is at Risk.
- Aloha – At the very least, your staff members will go on vacation, and someone will have to fill in for them. Leaving processes open to interpretation will cause things to go very wrong, very quickly.
- Oops – Something that no one anticipated goes wrong in a new process. The staff comes to the rescue, identifies the cause and fixes the problem. Without a good set of procedures to update, that disaster will happen again.
- Yippee – You see the opportunity to buy a company that sells products and services complimentary to yours and merge their staff with yours. Without a stable, reliable environment supported by clear policies and procedures, your staff won’t be able to absorb a change of that magnitude.
- $$$ - You’ve created a business that is on the cutting edge of technology and you see market conditions changing rapidly in your favor. It’s the right time to sell your business and there are buyers who are ready to deal. If your policies and procedures are not in tip-top shape, your business valuation will not meet your expectations.
- See ya – You are a baby boomer, and you’re ready to turn your highly successful business over to your children and sail off to your retirement. Even though they probably have different ideas of how to run the business, your legacy will be at risk of failure if you don’t start them out with a well-documented operation.
Change can be your adversary or your friend. It all depends on your level of preparedness and willingness to be pro-active.
If you don’t want to allocate your own staff to handle the documentation updates, bring someone in contractually to do the work. In many ways, an outsider’s view of your processes will result in more thorough documentation, so it will be money well spent.
To your success!!