I find it a little hard to believe that I hadn’t included this in my must-read list, but sure enough, it wasn’t there.
Michael Gerber’s E-Myth describes the benefits and process of getting those mindless trivial tasks in your business under control. You know, the ones that suck up the hours and have you doing things that someone else should be doing? Yeah, those.
The ones that you just know you can perform better than anyone else. As if its important that you load the packing tape gun jusssssst right.
In a few respects, it takes a McDonald’s-esque look at your business. Identify and document every process so that a new employee could do immediately (or at least…soon). If the task involves a computer, go click by click. If the task involves manual labor, document every step. No assumptions. Leave nothing out.
Make sure every staffer has a copy. Keep it up to date. Set the expectation that the processes will be used as documented, and if they aren’t, fix the documentation or fix the process.
Give a copy to every new employee. Set the expectation to learn and use it.
Why go to all this trouble?
So you can get some real work done. So your people can get their work done without bugging the crud out of you.
So you can leave town for a week and not get 27 cell calls each day asking inane questions like “where is the mailbox key”, “how do I turn on the alarm before I leave” and “how do I backup our critical data?” (as if anyone knows you even do this…and you DO do this, right?)
And most importantly, so you can focus on what’s important in your business.
Think about how easy it would be to train a new employee and get them moving in the right direction (ie: positive ROI) if you had their job processes documented, step by step.
There are a few things that you don’t want to do after reading the E-Myth:
1) Assume that the book will run the place. It wont. What gets measured, gets managed. The book simply tells how things should be done, it doesnt get up and kick people into gear.
2) Turn your business into a McDonald’s. Gerber uses McD’s as the example, not as the be-all, end-all of small businesses. The key to his McD example is that the steps are documented and used. Not that you want to turn your business into an faceless (and smelly) automaton run by 16 year olds.
3) Pick apart every little conflict in the book like some of the reviewers at Amazon do. Wonder how many of them actually USE what they read? Take what works and use it and move on. This process works, but only if you use it.
4) Read the book every time you perform a task. It teaches the process and provides a reference to new employees, temp employees and those of us who might have a brain fart when we need to do something that we havent done in a month or two.