Want to grow your business? Get rid of the 'fax machines'
When I first started out in business, fax machines were the way to communicate. If you needed to send out a quote, you'd fax it. If you wanted to share product information? Yep, you guessed it. Today, though, there are far faster and more effective processes for communicating with our clients and stakeholders. The same is true for many aspects of a business.
Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp
Over the past two decades, modern technology has completely changed the way we work...And then Covid-19 came along. Many businesses, both big and small, were forced to implement work-from-home policies, and one of the things we’ve learned along the way is that tasks that used to take a few hours or even days to complete can now be simplified and executed in no time – all thanks to better technology and processes.
Yet I still see many small growing businesses hanging on to their metaphorical “fax machines” – old, outdated and cumbersome processes and ways of doing things that just don’t make sense anymore and which are actually holding businesses back. Nobody changes them because of that old chestnut of an excuse: “That’s how we’ve always done things.”
A few years ago, my own business was growing at a steady pace. The number of tasks that had to be completed weekly had increased considerably. My mentor asked me, “Do your processes suffer from the equivalent of ‘metal fatigue’ from continuous use?” It was a question I hadn’t even considered.
You see, everything in business has a proverbial shelf-life. A business process that was the right choice when you started out may not necessarily be the right process a year later. Times and contexts change. As processes age, they must be adapted or completely changed to suit their contexts.
I see many small businesses sitting with processes that were conceived and implemented years ago. These could be internal processes for a role that no longer exists; or they could be external processes where industry regulations and technology have evolved and changed. Either way, it’s critical for small business owners to interrogate their processes regularly. If they don’t, they’re effectively sentencing their staff to follow redundant processes. The long-term consequence may be a redundant business.
So, what can you do to keep the processes in your business fresh and relevant? I recommend three things.
Constantly review your processes
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Fax machines weren’t instantly replaced by emails. But, if you continually scan your processes, you’ll be better placed to quickly notice whether any internal or external changes make them irrelevant or ineffective. You don’t need to change entire processes if they work; instead, you can adapt them to suit any changes in context as these present themselves.
Use fresh eyes
When hiring new staff, use the opportunity to check in with them that the processes they are learning make sense. Maybe they have a better idea for how to do something.
Ask yourself questions
The secret to shifting your mindset, and therefore your business, is to ask yourself tough questions and answer them honestly. Do my processes suffer from the equivalent of metal fatigue? Which processes do I need to adapt now because of a context change? Are my people learning processes that are relevant now?
Ultimately, a deep review of your processes can help you define what you’re currently doing, identify areas for improvement and set you on the road to even greater success.
About Allon Raiz
Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp. In 2008, Raiz was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2011 he was appointed for the first time as a member of the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. Following a series of entrepreneurship master classes delivered at Oxford University in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Raiz has been recognised as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School.