There is something that I created many years ago in my job that filled a HUGE gap and was a real game-changer.
What was it?
The Business Handbook
Also known as The Business “Bible”.
This will be of particular interest to you if you are scattered or lost in your business operations and have no, or little, resources at hand to aid you in managing it in an effective and efficient way. You know this is you if you are manually doing everything in your business – day in and day out – and flying by the seat of your pants on each occasion rather than having real structure.
There is no shame in feeling a bit behind in your business operations, as it is a commonality that is shared by many business people, but the great thing is that the issue of not being organised in the business can easily be overcome. There is a solution!
It is a matter of:
– knowing there is a huge gap in your business operations that is impacting your time and revenue,
– acknowledging that there is a gap and change needs to happen, and
– taking the right steps, and engaging the right people, to overcome the issues.
The benefit is that when a solution is put in place – you can work seamlessly and more efficiently and have more time and more money in your business as you are free to focus on the priorities in your business!
Let us go to the core of The Business Handbook.
What is “The Business Handbook”?
It is THE document that is the go-to for all relevant and important information for the business. This could include the business processes, client information, project material etc.The Business Handbook is the BIBLE that is always at hand as a reliable and repeatable reference guide in the business.Click To Tweet
Real Experience Backstory
Years ago, I worked for a top-tier national law firm in Sydney City. Whilst working as an Executive Assistant in one of the legal teams I noticed a HUGE gap in the way business was conducted and communicated (shared) amongst others in the legal department I was situated in, and a lot of core/important work was either manually repeated OR re-invented every time, and by different people.
It opens itself to waste of time, lack of communication and errors.
It did not matter that the company intranet held a wealth of resources and details at the click of a mouse, there was still a gap that was particular for my role and what I was doing – and others in my department.
Note: different legal departments have different specifics to what they do and how it is done, think of different requirements for different departments like Media + Technology, Banking + Finance, Litigation, Corporate etc.
The Business Handbook Example
I created my own Business Handbook for what I needed to do and what was important for my team and the department, on a wider level.
Note: At the time it was a physical lever-arch folder and held tabs with printed documents, so I always had it at hand on a shelf. This suits a lot of people as they need to see and touch – and that is okay. More modern convenience allows the use of online platforms to house all processes for ease of access, permission levels etc.
Here is what I created to have at hand:
– Department directory: people, title, contact details, working days/hours.
– How to specifics: document naming conventions, folder naming conventions, precedent locations, template documents and locations, time reporting and billing formats.
– Documented process for reporting I do for myself, my team and department (used by myself and others who may need access to it).
– Core details for top clients: Company details, company contacts and their details, their projects, their spend, business development goals, research.
By pulling this together for my own clarity, it allowed my team to know what is what and where; it was embraced by the department to the point a copy was made for other EAs in the department for their reference.
When I later moved to Business Development, I created a Handbook/Bible of our Top 20 Active (Key) Clients for the department (we are talking multi-million-dollar clients here), so all pertinent information was readily at hand by the team and time was not wasted trying to find or locate information needed to service the particular client.
What Does Your Business Handbook Look Like?
When you think about creating your own Business Handbook, what does it look like?
What is included in that bible that is necessary to have at hand for yourself and others to easily access important information and processes to conduct your business in the most effective and efficient way possible?
Start by thinking about the processes you already do in your business, yet probably do not think about because it is auto-pilot, second nature. How would you translate that for ease in case anything happened to you and/or a member of your team?
What You Can Include In The Business Handbook
There is no right or wrong about what The Business Handbook contains, it is specific to you and your business – and those that work in your business.
Here are some ideas of what you can incorporate in your Business Handbook, but it is not exclusive and is a constant working document:
– HR-related: position descriptions for employed people within the business, regardless of whether they are contractors or employees; contracts and agreements.
– Business policies: this is important when you have a team regardless if they are contractors or permanent staff. The policies set out what is expected of them in the business, e.g., Workplace Conduct, Technology Usage, Bullying Policy etc; it helps to cover them and yourself.
– Client leads and intake: enquiry and intake forms, proposals, contracts/agreements.
– Client list: list of clients, contact information, engagement period, revenue, research.
– Customer service: how to correspond with clients, templates for use and their location.
– Finance: bookkeeper/accountant details, accounting platform, how to use platform, e.g., raising invoices, applying payments, reversing invoices.
– Suppliers: who they are, their contact information and order forms, spend.
– Hardware: how to use printers, replace toner, use of phones.
– Technology: how to use computers, save documents and document naming conventions, location of templates, platforms used and how to use them.
– Marketing: brand material, design programs, where to save material, messaging to use when promoting business/services/products, PR material.
These basic examples should get you thinking about what you do in your business and what you can get out of your head and documented.
It may even include your mission and vision statements, organisation chart, disaster recovery plan……. whatever is important and relevant for your business and its effective operations.
It will free up any fuzziness or overwhelm you have, allows others to step in and help if there are issues (for any reason) and allows you to think whether the processes you have been doing are still needed or need to be adjusted.
Comment and let me know if you are now determined to move forward in recognising and documenting all the processes in your business to get ahead on your business operations.
I can guarantee by recognising and documenting it allows you to really exercise control over your business and enable ways to operate it effectively using systems and automation.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing” ~ W Edwards Deming