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Procedures & Small Business: Part 8

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Successful Small Businesses Do What They Know

Kevin’s Blog series about writing work instructions in a small business, based on the ISO quality management philosophy.

Hi, this is the last blog in the series, and I’m out of writing tips : )
Here’s the last bit of advice I’d like to add. Cheers

Many small business entrepreneurs build their company around a skill they already possess.

Experienced trade technicians, equipment operators and skilled labour workers have started up very successful businesses. They usually offer a service in the same type of work they have experience in, which makes perfect sense. And it’s not unusual for them to perform the actual physical work of the business, too. They do what they know.

Many figure out just enough about administrative work to get by. But as a company begins to grow, the number of administrative tasks needing to be done can take the business owner away from the moneymaking work.  If this impacts the overall quality or volume of work, the growth of the business could stall.

In small business start-ups, the first company hire after the owner/operator(s) is often a bookkeeper. Most people know when they’re getting in over their head handling financing, payments and business banking.
There may not be another administrator-type hired for a while as the business grows and hires additional workers who generate income. This can overload owner/operators trying to do it all.

Entrepreneurs who recognize the things they’re good at, but especially those who have a good appreciation of the things they’re bad at (talking to you, paperwork procrastinators!), have a wide selection of modern solutions short of hiring a complete office staff.

Online-accessible services can help with most issues facing a small business. Management software, such as employee training management, learning management, procurement and inventory control systems, can let one person stay in control of internal processes.

Other ways small business owner/operators can reduce admin time:

  • Contracting one-time tasks to outside providers may be an efficient way of reducing the administrative workload.
  • Recruiting services streamline the hiring process by calling for, receiving and pre-screening CVs (resumés).
  • Subscribing to online training packages for employees reduces the variables in time, personnel and resource management involved in providing classroom sessions.

Writing their own company policies and procedures is something entrepreneurs often do, too. But even using software products and template providers to make this somewhat plug & play, it’s still a potentially large commitment in time. Professional writing services can provide a comprehensive package of administrative, human resource and/or safety policies, as well as procedures and detailed work instructions. These are usually developed in cooperation with the company.

An entrepreneur being stretched to the limit may want to reset. Maybe schedule a consultation with a business advisor or coach, someone with the experience and skills to recognize the traps as well as the benefits of various solutions and strategies.

Regardless of the choice, the solution has to get the focus back on the moneymaking end of the operation, giving small business owner/operators the opportunity to be successful doing what they know.

Kevin Fox is a technical writer at Contendo. He is a power engineer with a background in process operations, steel fabrication and military.