Tools help improve our business. We go from being able to make something, to being able to make it better, faster, with a little less effort. I watched Kat decorate our kitchen chairs in various unique ways, and observed how she went from tentative to experienced, a few experiments at a time. Over at New Marketing Labs, we’re growing from doing all custom work to doing two main practices really well. It’s that moment when we realize that processes, even small ones, improve things. That’s when we go from cottage to company.
Keep Processes Human-Minded
There are little changes that we can make to our business practices that will help us grow. For instance, I have help with managing my contact form. Steve Brogan (aka my dad) answers people back, which helps me stay more responsive, while keeping a human touch. Over time, we’ve developed processes and rules for how we’ll answer the majority of emails that come in. We’re still very human. We still connect with people, and yet, we’ve built something that will help the company grow.
Over at Man on the Go, I’ve started with some processes in place. I’ve built a contact form, but I’ve also built some baseline response documents for frequently asked questions, some processes for how we’ll respond to trickier questions, etc.
By hiring Rob Hatch for my new business, I’ve put him in charge of working on these processes, too. It’s key to this all growing beyond being a “Chris Business” into being a company. But we always keep human business top of mind. It’s the only way we can do it.
Look For Tools That Help (But Stay Human)
You might use tools like AwayFind to manage your email. You might use BatchBook to help you keep track of your prospects and customers. You might use FreshBooks to invoice your customers. These are all great tools. Just keep up the human element.
In every case that you build tools and process into your business, work out how you’ll keep it a human business: relationship-minded, sustainable, and friendly. Remember that any tool that sucks some of the humanity out of the process needs to be reconsidered. My first attempt at managing my inbox was a failure because I wasn’t very human about it. It’s okay. Just rethink it, rework it, and see what comes of it.
From Cottage to Company
The things we know how to do are great when they’re in our head. They will make a company run when they’re written into processes. It’s hard for us to recognize this, and even harder to let go of those parts of what we do that could be handled by anyone. But the more we hold on to, the less we’re capable of handling.
In going from a contributor and creator into a business owner. At New Marketing Labs, I went from a contributor into president. It’s hard to shift from the one perspective to the other, but it’s everything to get it right.
Even if you’re a one-person business right now, what could/should you be writing into processes, for others to follow at some point? Can you see how putting processes and tools into place will extend things? What’s holding you back?
Photo credit ellenm1