Simple $1000 / Hour Thing All Successful Businesses Do
If you’re in a service-based business, you might be paid a good hourly fee for what you do. Lawyers can bill $200 – $500 and more. When I talk about $1000 / hour activity, I’m not really referring to your hourly rates, if you have them. I’m talking about the value that the activities you spend time on bring to your business.
Documenting Your Business Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
I think objectively, many small business owners understand the value of having good processes and documentation in their business. But how many take the time to prioritize actually doing it?
I get it. You might be the sole employee of your company or maybe you have a handful of employees. You’re wearing 17 hats every day, fighting fires and trying to keep your customers happy. Things like writing down (or even creating) a standardized on-boarding process, or documenting how your website works tend to fall by the wayside.
But the only way to break out of the cycle of overwhelm is to make time to do the things that will prevent those fires in the first place.
Here are a few ways that documentation can make your life easier.
Gain Time and Creativity
Creating and writing down processes for repetitive tasks allows you to outsource the task to an employee or assistant. You free up your time to grow your business and free your brain to solve bigger problems. Even if you keep doing the task yourself, just having and following a process reduces the risk of forgetting a step.
Scale Your Business
You will stop being the bottleneck for growth in your business by getting knowledge out of your head and into a system.
Reduce training time for new employees by having documented processes, which means you can save one on one training for higher level tasks.
Recover From Setbacks
You will be more resilient against setbacks like illness (yours or your staff), or other emergencies.
We have four bottles of vanilla extract in our cupboard at home because at the store, my wife would ask, “Do we need more vanilla?” and each time I would say, “I think we’re out,” because I couldn’t look in the cupboard at that moment.
Out of sight, out of mind. Do you actually know what goes into making your website and online marketing work? You might end up spending money on software when you already have access to a tool that will do what you need. Or you might change developers and pay to have someone new figure out your system because it’s not well documented.
Strategies for Creating Processes and Documenting Them
That’s all very well, you might be thinking, but how do you actually implement these things when you only have so many hours in the day?
Change Your Habits
You might need to do things a bit slower to capture the process, but it will pay compound dividends as time goes on. Next time you’re doing something you do all the time, open up your favorite writing program and make notes of each step as you go . Later you can refine them into something that will make sense to someone who is not you without struggling to think of all the steps.
Give your process to an employee or assistant to do. See if they can get through it based on your instructions. Have them improve the documentation as they go.
Make a Video
If your tasks are computer based, make a video of your common tasks by recording your screen and talking through it as you go. You can send it to a virtual assistant and have them write instructions based on the video and use screen captures from the video as images in the text.
If you don’t have a list of assets for your business, make one. Start a shared spreadsheet and ask everyone to contribute to it.
How I Use Documentation to Save My Clients Money
When I create documentation for websites, I make a list of the plugins and licensed software which makes up the site, who owns the licenses and when they expire. I schedule reminders to make sure licenses are renewed on time.
I also make a list of all the plugins on the site and their function, so that anyone on the team can quickly learn how things work. If there are other software tools that the website integrates with such as email marketing software, I document that too.
I install a video user manual in the website admin dashboard so clients have an easy reference right where they need it, to remind them how to do common tasks in WordPress.
We’re also developing a knowledge base to address routine or frequently asked questions.
These things help me to spend time with my customers creating high value online marketing strategies, while providing them 24 hour access to basic information.
- If you’re thinking about getting a virtual assistant, here’s a site that reviews VA companies
- For recording your screen checkout Screenflow for Mac or Camtasia for Windows.
- Sweet Process is a tool that will help you document your standard operating procedures in a central place. You could also use Dropbox or Google Docs
- Iorad ‘watches' you work and documents your screen with screenshots, then creates a set of instructions based on your activity. It's the easiest way I've found to create visual instructions quickly.