Can Your Business Survive Without You? Here's How To Be Sure
If we were sitting down for coffee and I ask what you believe to be the most important factor for success in business, what would you say? If you’re like most people, you might respond that it’s something along the lines of perseverance, determination or talent. What if I told you that while these things are valuable, they do not determine success? There is a more telling factor.
The true key to a successful business lies in the strength of its infrastructure. But, what exactly is infrastructure? The simple answer is that it's your design and blueprint. It is made of the basic facilities and structures of the business and includes everything from software and services, to operational procedures. It is the work you do on your business that allows you to work in your business.
Imagine taking a one-week vacation. What happens to your operations? Would your team know what to do in your absence? Would your customers panic? If the answer to the last two questions is yes, then you’re currently lacking a sustainable infrastructure.
I get it: most of us do not like creating systems. They can be boring, tedious, and may appear unnecessary. If you’re a clothing designer, you went into business to bring your designs and creativity to life. If you’re a life coach, you want to help others improve their quality of life, not to work on systems. Again, I get it but imagine not being able to do the thing you love because most of your time is spent putting out fires, experiencing burnout, or making up procedures on a whim.
Creating good business systems allows you to automate your processes, increase productivity and improve effectiveness. For example, think about the transportation and tax systems in our country. While we may not like it, we have to pay parking meters, tolls, and vehicle taxes to commute within our communities. The expectation is that the money is used to build and maintain our streets and neighborhoods. Similarly in your business, developing an intricate infrastructure creates sustainability through interdependent processes.
There is a common adage that is not wise to put your cart before your horse. That has never been more relevant than in this context. Your cart is your thriving business—in a state that allows you to do what you love to do. Your horse is your infrastructure. The more robust it is, the more likely your business can go the distance.
I have had the pleasure of consulting with hundreds of entrepreneurs. The concern I hear most often is that people feel like they are re-actively going through the motions, rather than positioning themselves for proactive oversight. My advice is always the same: build your business from within. The time and resources spent on this approach will determine the health and success of everything else.