In October 2010, Australian entrepreneur Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin embarked on a bold business challenge: become the Smallest Multinational in the World. Follow Sebastien's whirlwind journey around the world as he attempts to prove that with the right entrepreneurial spirit, you don't need to be big to be big. Sebastien International tells the inspiring story of a unique business adventure.
Episode 6 - San Francisco
Sebastien's journey ends appropriately in the venture capitalist capital of the world. Has he done enough so far to convince potential investors, or will he return to Sydney Australia with much still to be done?
HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS SYSTEM (AND WRITE YOURSELF OUT OF A JOB)
It is always my goal or aim in my startups to build the business to a point where it can be sold to someone else - hopefully at a large profit which makes the journey to get there all the more worthwhile!
One of the best things any business can do to improve the value at the point of sale is to systemise all aspects of the business. An organisation that is well documented and does not require the specific talent(s) of the founder will sell more easily (and for a higher price) than one that the founder has all the corporate IP in their head.
Whilst you could wait until you're thinking of selling to start documenting, it is far more efficient to begin writing processes and systems from the day you start. The bonus from this is you get to experience much higher efficiency and be in control even when you're on the other side of the world working remotely!
The franchise model
If I haven't convinced you, and you think you can't afford to spend the time documenting your processes think about fast food chains (or any successful franchise for that matter).
McDonalds isn't in the business of selling hamburgers - they (the corporate) sell franchises - highly systemised businesses that are so well documented that 16 year old employees can run them.
So start thinking of your business as a franchise. How can you document every aspect of your business so someone can pick it up and run it with almost the same efficiency as you.
How can you write yourself out of a Job?
Writing a system
The first step is to have a system for writing systems. This may seem a little silly, but it will ensure you have a consistent approach to documenting your processes - and it will enable you to get your staff (if you have any) to contribute by writing systems on their jobs too.
I teach a Systems course as part of a NSW Government Program and go in to much more detail but here's a basic guide for getting started.
Each system should be broken down into four sections:
• What is the system?
A paragraph or two explaining what this system is
• Why do this system?
A paragraph or two explaining why you would implement this system and what benefit it provides the organisation. If you're struggling to answer this section you might want to reconsider if you need this system at all!
• When do you use this system?
When would you break out this system, how does it fit in with other systems and where does it sit in your workflow.
A step by step guide or checklist with very easy to follow steps of how to go about this system.
Keep your systems in an easily accessible place, preferably an online secure location (such as dropbox) but you can use a private wiki or a specific systemisation too.
I actually wrote a web-based software application to manage systems and manage people working through them, but even a simple text file in a shared drive is a good start.
Finally you should have a step in your system to somehow capture the results and provide a feedback loop so you or your staff can tweek and improve it as you learn more and work through the processes.
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