• Alawna Jamison

When Working Hard is Hardly Working [5 Steps to Redesign Your Business Processes]

Have you heard of the show “What Would You Do?”. It was an instant favorite of mine when it first aired a few years ago. The premise of the show is to observe how people react when confronted with dilemmas. Well, I created a similar scenario for myself.

What started off as a joke now serves as my internal accountability check: “What would future Alawna say?”.

I usually pose this question when I’m faced with completing a task I really don’t feel like doing.

Lately, that task has been doing the dishes. After a long day of work, the thing that gets me the least excited is washing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen. That is, until my tried and true question pops up: “What would future Alawna say about having to do the dishes first thing in the morning?”.

Short answer: She’s not here for it.

Needless to say I end up doing the dishes before bed, and I wake up worry free thanks to my before bedtime process.

This same question of “What would future _____ saycan be asked of businesses and how they manage their day to day operations. The difference is that if a business does not have an answer for a work process question, more than just dirty dishes are at stake.

Impact of Working Without A Process The Small Business Association reports that 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, 50% fail after five years, and only 33% make it to 10 years or longer. Of the four most common reasons why small businesses fail, two have to do with operations: poor management and inadequate business planning. A great place to begin improving your business success, internal work experience, and your external customer buying experience is evaluating your work processes.

Let’s use responding to customer inquiries as an example. Trivial task, right? You see them pop up in your inbox, you type a response, you hit send. It’s easy enough.

What happens when those five or six emails turn into fifty or sixty? Or when the questions progress from simple FAQs to head scratching IDKs? And we haven’t even mentioned managing all the social media channels. Seemingly simple tasks can turn into a reactive balancing act fast when a planning and management process is not in place.

Processes: Gifts That Keep On Giving The benefits of creating internal working processes go beyond that initial feel good moment of checking something off your list. Having repeatable processes in place also help:

  • Prepare you to scale, so you’re ready for business growth

  • Improve internal and external communication, keeping happiness (and sanity) between you and your customers

  • Utilize your resources better, saving both time and money

  • Increase your productivity, improving the quality and quantity of your work

  • Open your ability to over deliver to your customers, creating those surprise and delight moments we all love

  • Seemingly simple tasks can turn into a reactive balancing act fast when a planning and management process is not in place.

Seemingly simple tasks can turn into a reactive balancing act fast when a planning and management process is not in place.

5 Steps to Building Work Processes The good news is that you can start working smarter, not harder for an all-around better experience with just 5 steps:

  1. It starts with a mindset. Creating a process requires strategy, while sticking to it requires discipline. We need to build both of these muscles to stay committed.

  2. Define your goals. I find that using the SMART goal method helps to break down a larger vision into actionable steps for each part of a business.

  3. Reflect on how you currently work. And be honest with yourself. Effective or not, we all have a system to how we do things. Write out how you are currently approaching tasks and identify opportunity areas. (I find it helpful to look at my processes based on my customer. I end up with the following process categories: pre-sale processes, during sale processes, and post-sale processes.)

  4. (Re)design your processes. Now that you have set your goals and have identified your areas of opportunity, you can begin redesigning your processes. Start with the processes that are causing you and your customers the most friction, and move onward from there.

  5. Test what’s working. It takes time to figure out what works best for your and your customers. Check-in to measure what works best and change when necessary.