The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, May 21, 2007

Diary of a New Business 10 - The Workflow Process

No business can survive without processes and procedures. But when starting a new business, detailed processes can often wait and evolve as the business grows. The initial way of doing things is rapidly replaced with a better way of doing things. So spending a lot of time on systems before you launch can result in unnecessary delays in your launch. Afterall, when you start, you are generally not that busy, so many of your systems can grow with your business.

That is not to say that you can’t start without any systems. You must have some idea on how you are going to provide your services. The fundamentals must be in place. But if you intend to automate things, quite detailed planning is necessary.

With a manual process, you don’t have to think about every contingency. If something only happens rarely, you can take the view that you will address the process for that when the time arises. But if you intend to automate your systems, the logic of what happens next has to be considered so that the automation can handle it.

As the Australian Business Coaching Club was to be largely automated, the steps for each visitor to the website had to be considered one-by-one. The visitor decides to optin- but fills in the form incorrectly. If there is not an error checking process, I could lose a lead. Here are some other questions that I asked:

· What are the steps a visitor must take to a sale?
· What are the automated follow-ups?
· What alternatives should be given and managed?
· What payment options?
· How to manage a failed credit card?
· How to welcome people to the Club?
· What happens at each stage of their membership?
· What is the induction process?
· How is their membership managed?
· Are there loyalty and referral programs?
· How do they work and how are they managed?
· What happens when they resign?
· What happens after they resign?

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the coaching process! How much automation should be given to each aspect of the business?

A map was created from the first contact through to the final goodbye. Even where automation was undertaken, emails had to be prewritten, which would be triggered by the process. Web pages needed to be created where there were to be links from the emails. And reporting had to be in place to monitor the whole process.

While a large number of procedures were automated, some manual processing was maintained where the programming was considered to be very complex and saving little time or where it was believed that the process would evolve.

Before you launch your business, map out the fundamental processes that must be there the day the doors open.

Next- Getting it all done.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

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