If one book could revolutionize your small business, it’s Work The System, by Sam Carpenter.
(Want a quick preview? Read the guest post Carpenter shared with us, Five Common Mistakes People Make When Starting Up a Small Business and How to Steer Clear of Them.)
In the book, Carpenter walks you through his method of turning your whole business into a system, and working that system. If you have employees, then it may be obvious to you that you need to systematize various processes to make them work without you there. If you are the only person in the business, you may not have realized that systematizing is the first step to breaking free of being “just you.”
It’s not exciting, and Carpenter takes his time, repeats himself, and generally tries to force his ideas into your head and into your gut. And, realistically, that’s a good plan. Because the natural pattern will be to read this book, nod a lot, and then continue to screw things up. It’s not that you can’t figure out on your own everything he tells you. It’s that you will never take time to figure it out and put it into a system without help.
So if you read the book, and actually work the system, you will change your business.
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I will have to read this book. It sounds similar to E-Myth Revisited which outlines the concept of building systems based businesses. The E-Myth concept has been around for some time.
Des Walsh says
Sounds like a good resource for any small business.
Haven’t read E-Myth Revisited, which Jeremy mentions, for a while now but my recollection is that I read the advice there as including the development of documentation of the systems you use. That documentation – “operations Manual” – adds considerable value when it comes to assessing the value of the business, whether it’s for sale at that point or not.
An interesting twist on that, which I learned several years ago from a guy who bought under-performing businesses, built them up and sold them on (with the new Operations Manual as part of the deal) was to document with video as well as in text/printed format. So he would video all the processes in the day: answering the phone, speaking to a customer at the front desk, preparing mail to go to the post office,,, You name it, he videod it. Then when a new staff member was recruited, he or she would be given a set of videos to go home and watch intently before they started working: for one thing that meant they could be much more productive from day one and there was less staff time taken up in “onboarding” as I believe the term du jour has it.