The nature of the universe is chaos. There’s no doubt about it and there are thousands of quotes out there that promote the notion that greatness is preceded by a whirling mass of disorder.

This is certainly applicable to the creation and growth of a new business – any startup or small business is familiar with some of the chaos experienced on the growth curve as they muddle through the disorder to define where they are going and how they are going to get there.

A good example would be the birth of Apple. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple from Jobs’ father’s garage. The two spent hours building every single computer by hand to deliver their first order of 50 desktops. They essentially flew by the seats of their pants to make it happen, and that they did is now a well-documented history.

But to move from a backyard start up to the computer empire Apple is today, they first had to establish a series of business systems. And as the company grew, they had to constantly revaluate these processes.

Why optimize?

Starting a business is the easy part – okay, not THAT easy – but ensuring it survives take-off and goes the distance is even harder.  Over time, companies may find that they have many disconnected, disparate systems in place, often making it very inefficient to complete business functions or difficult for employees to get things done.

Company processes may span multiple systems and keeping the systems in sync is often a challenge, resulting in duplicated efforts and mismatched data.

Employees involved in the same process are quite often in different departments and not in direct contact with each other, causing miscommunication, unnecessary delays, and poor business performance.

Eventually all businesses recognise the need to implement order and effective business systems to grow.

To grow and become sustainable, a business must implement efficient business systems that enable their processes to drive the company forward.

In an article by Forbes Alexander Mayzler founder and director of Thinking Caps tutoring spells it out by saying, “As soon as a business is off the ground, and sometimes even before then, talk turns to how to grow and scale the company. Often business owners think about how to delegate responsibilities, improve leadership skills, and gain financing to allow for growth. While these are important aspects to building a healthy business, one topic often overlooked is the business systems and processes needed to achieve growth.

“An owner must dedicate care and attention to building an organised and systemic approach to running the actual business. Although managing a small business often involves many instinctual decisions, starting to think about operations systems from day-one may be the best way to prepare your business for growth.”

How to optimize business processes

The best place to start is to take stock of the way you are running your routines. Taking a step back and reviewing at even just a high-level can reveal what’s working and what’s not. Whether you are just starting out or already going, begin with these basic actions:

  • Get together the process owners or process experts in your business – anyone on your team who can input on the way a system is working (or not working)
  • Map out the high-level steps involved in each routine you do
  • Identify which software or manual efforts are used to do the routines
  • Identify what gets done or captured at different points and in different processes
  • Look for crossover – is the same thing being done in different places?
  • Identify inconsistent approaches – is the same thing being done in different ways?
  • Start realizing which methods can be standardized, what data should be shared between processes, or what efforts can be removed entirely.

Keep it simple  

The best way to get processes in order is to implement the right workflow solution from the start. A good workflow system eliminates unnecessary or duplicated efforts in processes, uncertainty of responsibilities and requirements, discretionary action in processes, process conclusion left to chance or abandonment. It also helps to reduce many of the common glitches that thwart small businesses, thereby reducing the turbulence on your journey and streamlining the document-driven business processes that will help get your business practices on course and heading towards success.

Adam Shapiro

Adam Shapiro