When is it good for a business to be boring? To a visionary and a fast starter, running a business with systems can seem boring because it is too predictable. That is no fun. To the fast-paced entrepreneur who likes making quick decisions as the opportunity emerges, making the effort to put operating systems in writing can be just too tedious. Many self-starters believe checklists waste time. Initially that can work and may be required; it cannot sustain a business.
What price do you pay for darting from one thing to the next? Operating without schedules, checklists and systems sets up disarray. It is an adrenalin rush to be sure. It costs your company its competitive edge. Customers cannot count on reliable, excellent service or products. Owner burnout prevails in this kind of environment.
My neighbor hired a contractor to do routine maintenance such as replace rotten wood, paint, and the usual tasks. Without exaggeration he stayed for brief periods (half an hour or so) before he left to go to another project. It is no wonder it took him forever and a day to complete the work. As the “sidewalk superintendent,” I kept a close eye on his progress or lack thereof.
Often an owner gets something started but fails to follow through. It is not her strength or her passion. When there is money coming in the door and the bills are being paid, what is the need for mundane structure? Resistance to release control of the decisions can be part of the problem. The pain that the chaos is causing others including customers is not obvious. She does not recognize that she is leaving money on the table which threatens the long-term success of the business. It is difficult to hire and train someone because everything about the business is in the owner’s head.
Start small. Look at the three major functions of any size business: sales/marketing, operations, finance.
If you facilitate face to face meetings regardless of the size, using a checklist for the materials you need for a successful event is critical. Well in advance of the event, make a list of what and how many things you must have. Phone, laptop, cords, charger, USB with documents and PowerPoint, handouts, pen, and sticky notes are a few items on my checklist. Gather everything you need in one place and put it in the car or in a suitcase. Leave extra time for travel just in case there is an accident or delay. As the Xchange community advocates, “Plan tight and hang loose.” You can show up with confidence to have fun and give your best self to the audience.
With the structure of systems, clarity follows in a company. With clarity everyone knows where to focus and what to do next. It takes an investment to develop the processes that are standardized to yield consistent results. Most entrepreneurs find it appealing, not boring to have happy customers who gladly pay on time. A little boredom might be a good thing.
© 2021 Ann Elliott