July 16, 2018

Perfecting Processes

small business processesBelieve it or not, coming up with your ‘idea’ is not the hard part of entrepreneurship. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the easiest part of all. Screwing up the courage to jump off and give it a try – that’s hard. Figuring out which licenses you need/don’t need/do I need these labels/etc – that’s hard. Pitching your products to stores and/or customers – that’s hard. Making sure you pay your bills on time and nothing falls through the cracks – that’s hard. Getting your product to look/taste the way you want it to as you grow and scale – that’s hard.

Ok, you get the picture and you don’t need a full laundry list of what’s hard about entrepreneurship. Chances are you’re already living it! But so often the focus in entrepreneurship media is around the idea itself – and not necessarily the 8000 small (and in some cases mind-numbing) tasks that you have to complete to grow a successful business. Sometimes figuring out the processes – be they your production processes, your accounting processes, your sales processes, and/or all of the above plus more, are actually the things that really take time to figure out and implement.

While many of us may be in a rush to grow our businesses; excited by the opportunities we see and not wanting a competitor to jump into our market, it’s important to take the time to figure out those processes before growing too big.

As an example, I know one home-based entrepreneur who spent a year figuring out her production processes before ever taking her first order. She made sample upon sample upon sample to see how she could streamline her production and if there were spots along the way where she could freeze the product without impacting its flavor or consistency. The issue she was running into was having limited time to devote to her business in and amongst her responsibilities of a mother of young children and a part-time employee. So it took a lot of time to figure out how she could make this business work in a way that would also work with her life and other commitments.

I know a food cart operator who spent an entire farmers market season dedicated to figuring out how best to streamline customers’ ordering, paying, and then meal fulfillment. It wasn’t as simple as it had first seemed to him and he wanted to make sure that each customer was able to interact and ask questions but that the line was also able to move quickly along. That meant some changes from what he’d originally anticipated but those changes made a huge difference in his business.

I could give you countless other stories but I’m sure you have a few yourself – either from your own business or from food entrepreneurs you know. It can take time to get those processes in place but those processes are the foundation of growing your business to the next step so embrace the time you’re spending there. It will only help your business in the long run.

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