Future-Proof Your Business by Creating a Method from the Madness


Nobody knows your business better than you do. And that’s the problem.

Every new successful venture is built on the back of key people with experience and know-how. But at some point, that’s just not a practical way to run a business. You can’t grow a business if you depend on key people alone.

The McDonalds Training Program

When I was a kid, everybody talked about McDonalds’ training program. It was revolutionary. They didn’t just hire people and teach them sorta-kinda how to flip a burger. They had a very specific training program for every job that needed to be done … here’s how you flip a burger. Here’s how you wash the floor. Everything.

That program is one of the things that’s often overlooked when people analyze the success of the company. The training programs they designed allowed the franchise to expand very quickly and maintain consistent service and quality at the same time.

Building Your Own Processes and Procedures

The key, is to keep it simple. And in the beginning it’s really important to keep everything flexible. That way you can build a huge amount of scalability into your business processes but still tweak them and evolve them as you learn better ways to do things.

Here’s a simple example …

Let’s say you send out dozens of packages everyday. And each of those packages needs to be wrapped up with 20 feet of string. The “experienced” person just pulls a length of string off the roll and knows instinctively that it’s the right length.

When it comes time to hire other people to do this, it’s going to take them time to get the hang of it. And some people will take quite a while before they do. You need a procedure. A simple one.

So you stretch your arms out and realize that’s about 5 feet. Pulling 4 lengths of string off the roll using the rough measurement of outstretched arms makes 20 feet. Suddenly, you have a simple process. Now you can literally teach someone in seconds how to pull 20 feet of string off the roll to wrap a package.

So The Big Question is “When”?

Eventually you WILL have to build processes and procedures to run your business effectively. And “How” is something you’ll figure out along the way. So the real question is when do you need to do it?

The answer is simple; when you have people to train. There’s no point in building your procedures until you have people to pass them on to. And you’ll get real-time feedback from the people you’re training as you design the processes as well. You’ll even get some great ideas from your trainees.

At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long. As soon as you start expanding and bringing in new people, it’s time to start designing some basic procedures for how to do whatever you do. Start with a few and add more as you need them.

And as always, keep it simple. Things have a way of getting complicated all by themselves.

9 thoughts on “Future-Proof Your Business by Creating a Method from the Madness”

  1. Thanks Shane for an awesome post. I think people should start creating their procedure manuals even if they don’t hire others and have to train no one. Because it helps when you want to exit and sell off your business too.

    And they can always sell their procedure manuals to their competition (in other cities) too.

  2. Hey Ankesh,

    That’s a great point. If you’re selling your business, then having a comprehensive set of procedures is a good asset. And they can be a valuable commodity to others in the same industry as well.

    Generally it’s better (especially for entrepreneurial ventures) to hold off because everything is in motion in the beginning. A lot of things will change and it’s better to be out getting sales rather than continuously updating changing procedures.

    But if you have a lot of things on the go and a lot of specific needs for different customers or different products, then, definitely you need procedures right away to make sure each job you do gets done right. And just the process of creating procedures can help you hone a handful of different business models down to one solid, simple model that covers all your various activities.

  3. This post just goes to show how systems, when implemented, are truly one of the main heartbeats of a growing business. Without an operational system, a business must fall back on skills, which must be taught and more money must then be payed out. Systems save you money, systems make you money! Great post!

  4. Your great post reminds me of the book I’ve recently read which talks about the same thing. How to make our businesses to work systematically.
    The book is the E-myth revisited and I recommend to all that want to bring their business to the next level and don’t be sick of it.
    Everything in the business should have specifications. Thats why the franchisee opportunities the most time succeed, because they are working based on a system that works.

  5. great post. i’m just getting ready to launch my company online and the processes are already there. if you don’t have one in place, even if it is currently just you, i just don’t think you can be as efficient. streamlining something and then doing it the same way each time is a huge asset to have in place before you start hiring folks to help you. really good topic! i just started reading your blog and i really enjoy it.

  6. Hey Limitless, thanks.

    Bunk, glad you enjoyed the post. Systems can save a lot of money. And they can even save a business from failure if it loses key “experienced” people.

    Hey Nik, great point. McDonalds is probably one of the most successful franchises ever built … all thanks to the systems they created. Systems that you can roll out again and again are imperative to scalability.

    Hi Erin, it’s good to have some systems in place for yourslef to keep everything moving and organized. They can really help an entrepreneur with a full plate. Once you start hiring people though, is the time to really start putting together those systems because they have to worl in the real world with people who don’t know everything you do. Bouncing them off your new hirees is how you’ll refine them best as you get feedback and figure out how to make them … er … “idiot proof”.

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