helpAre you documented? No, not “do you have your documents?”, but is your business documented?

When I bought this business the joker I bought it from had no idea of processes. We couldn’t tell what work was going on, how anything was done, what money was owed. It was a disaster, and took a mighty effort (and legal wrangling) to get the clients on board.

And not all of them came onboard… His failure was instantly reflected on us.

At the time we didn’t think it would be too much of an issue – the business was a one man show, and the fellow seemed to know what he was doing. And he did know his technical stuff.

Trouble was – it was all in his head – inaccessible to anyone else.

He was heading towards new venture, and his headspace was there. No looking back, no handing over, no introductions. Sure, “handover” was written into the contract, but he was nowhere to be found. On the first day we took over the phones we received 43 calls – the vast majority of them was from annoyed clients, calling about work which was incomplete, hadn’t started, or – worse – for unreturned gear!

If the business state and processes had been documented this would have been a smoother transition – not smooth – but smoother. Information at hand is better than cluelessness, especially when dealing with clients who don’t know you from Tuesday.

So, is your business documented? Is there information? Are there processes? Are they accessible and clear to others?

More importantly… Would the business run smoothly if you were away for a day? A week? A month? What if you sold?

Not just for the big guys

Documenting your business may seem like something only large businesses need to do, but, mathematically speaking, every person in a small business carries greater overall responsibility, and their absence is more keenly felt, than for a large business.

And that equals high business risk.

So what should you document? Well, at a minimum capture the core stuff…

  • What work is currently on
  • Which systems do you need to access, and what are the passwords
  • Who are the key contacts and suppliers
  • What are the procedures
  • Your financials – the books – this is really important!

Now you know what to get, but how do you get it?

Start with your staff – they are the coal face of your business. If you work alone, that means you.

Write down a list of the vital systems and their passwords you access – bank logins, web site logins, etc. Your key contacts and suppliers can be in this document and also in your financial books. Finally, as you actually do the work, write procedures – especially important for those things you don’t do every day, or which are unique to your business.

Now, where should you store this information? Well, that’s often tied in with your business itself. You may use a CRM – and a lot of information is in there. Most CRMs, though, don’t have a space for procedures. You could type up the information and put it in a filing cabinet, or store it on your server; but what if there’s a fire, flood, or Lucy from accounts decides to abscond with it all and delete your copies?

The best place to store this information is the cloud; but again, where in that nebulous entity?

A place to call home

Some time ago we had exactly this scenario. A client wanted to document their information and processes, their customer data, and employee forms. Working with them, we directed them to an online document management system called SamePage.

SamePage uses your web browser to create, edit, and manage information. Information is stored in pages, and pages can contain text, spreadsheets, images, PDFs – and a whole lot more. You can link to content in Box, DropBox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, and searching is easy. Importantly, you control who has access to what. All your editing is done right there in the browser – so it’s as easy as pie.

Using a tool like SamePage lets you focus on information rather than documents. It can store and manage your key business information and processes, making them accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Best of all you can start using SamePage right now for FREE.

If you’d like a demo of SamePage, or want to talk more about documenting your business in general, feel free to call us for a chat.