Most entrepreneurs are structure averse. Why cramp your style? It’s so easy to make it up as you go. Plus, it's a lot more exciting.
Granted. Rules, systems and structures can feel restrictive. I’ve even known managers who enforce the rules to wield their power. It is counterproductive when your business is there to support the structure and not the other way around.
Recently I learned of a small business growing rapidly from $1 million to over $4 million. Three employees could manage the company at $1 million and less. However, the founder recognized the need to introduce some structure in order to sustain and support the business. Her two employees, however, created a lot of resistance. “We don’t want to become a big company. We like it just the way it is.” This spells trouble.
It’s expensive to run your business without the appropriate structure. Consider, for example, your company ships a product to customers. Without a standardized way of packing, shipping, and invoicing, the opportunity for mistakes is high. They are guaranteed to happen. Customers who get the wrong item are not happy. If the shipment goes to the wrong address, no one is happy. If you forget to invoice the customer or charge the wrong amount, no one is happy. Unhappy customers leave. Your company loses money. Your company earns a bad reputation.
A simple structure to standardize the way you handle packing, shipping and invoicing, produces consistent, predictable results. If you are not getting the results you want, look at the process first. No process? Develop one.
The reason many entrepreneurs do not have structure in their companies is because it takes time to develop the process. It can cause a slow down until people learn the new process. It may seem faster to “just get it done now” than devise a structure. It costs time and money to fix mistakes caused by no structure.
Where do you start to put the right structure in place in your company?
1) Identify the area where you have the least consistent, predictable results.
2) Identify your key processes in this area [for example, client intake process, bid process, implementation/installation process, billing process, equipment maintenance process, etc.]
3) Which one of these key processes needs the most improvement?
4) What can you standardize so you have consistent, predictable results?
5) Develop a written process and train your team to use it.
6) Adjust the process as needed.
Here is a situation where structure paid off. Toastmasters International recommends a club vote in potential members with a formal process. This is important in case a club wants to terminate the membership of someone. “If you don’t vote them in, you cannot vote them out.” I saw this play out when the membership of a disruptive new member in my club was terminated. It was necessary to maintain the health of our club. We followed the process precisely and were grateful for the structure.
Creating structure for your company puts you in a position to grow. With the right structure, you are conspiring for your success.
© 2016 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved
Great article, Ann. Structure IS the basis for creativity!
Thanks, Jae. So often people reject structure because it has the reputation for restricting creativity. I agree it supports creativity and more!
Ann - Loved this article. Structure is one of my best business friends. Ione
Thanks for your feedback, Ione. A little structure in the right place goes a long way on the path of success.