How to Systemise Your Business: A rare interview with Evan Kolbe
"For most of us when where trying to systemise our business we either put it into the too hard basket or flick it off to the Admin staff to document everything."
"Occasionally we might even have been inspired by Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited TM or Cash Flow the Game(TM) by Bradley J. Sugars both preaching the benefits of systemising your business. Either way it generally deteriorates into an expensive dust collector!" says Evan.
So how is it done properly? Surely it’s not only the burgers and chips conglomerates that can do this sort of stuff and reap the rewards?
So can this “stuff” be done simply, quickly and most importantly effectively?
This week we interviewed arguably the best Business Systems person in the country, Evan Kolbe of Kolbe Systems. Based in Perth Western Australia the boutique company has quietly and successfully systemised over 120 businesses throughout Australia.
Not only is the number impressive. Many of their clients have successfully removed themselves from their business. The holy grail of business success! Many of their clients achieving record growth at the same time!
Peter: So Evan, what are the most common mistakes business owners make when embarking on systemising their business?
Evan Kolbe: Put simply, they don’t do their research. It’s too easy for them to hand it over to the IT/ Admin manager instead. They fail to see what Best Practice is in the market place.
Peter: From a technical point, where do you start?
EK: Sadly most people start at the end first. They start documenting every process in the business. Generally following staff around and asking them what do they do? Then type like crazy all the procedures. This never works because you end up crossing over and confusion sets in.
The first thing you need to do is develop a concise Functions chart that outlines your fundamental flow within all areas of your business. Once you’ve done that it becomes substantially quicker to systemise off positions rather than individual people.
Peter: You say all areas, how many areas?
EK: Every business is uniquely different but you should have at least 21. If you don’t then you’re missing some thing.
Peter: So how do you define these 21 areas of functions?
EK: There are 7 fundamental areas in all organisations;
- Marketing & Sales
- Operations/ Service
- Public Relations
- Quality Assurance
Each of these areas you need to break into a 3 stage process, this will give you the 21 areas of your Functions chart.
Peter: So how do you identify this 3 stage process and ‘drill down’ into these 21 areas of functions?
EK: Every area has 3 distinct process steps;
Identify all steps and you get complete clarity so team members really understand their responsibilities. That’s the benefit of going through our program. Clients get to see what best practice is. We have over 100 Function charts you can benchmark off other companies so you can create your very own unique process. It’s R&D on steroids!
Peter: So once you’ve done the 21 area Functions chart is it okay to start writing things up?
EK: Be careful with writing every thing up. It’s not always writing. In some businesses you can have good staff leave if they have to read a lot. Consider audio or video recording some areas.
To be honest writing all the processes up in business is always the last thing we get our clients to look at. Other things you can do to get a better result would be to now match off your Functions chart your Document Control, your Company Policy, Business Statistics and Induction process. Then look at your Job Manuals.
Peter: Once these functions are defined what is the feedback from people within the businesses you work with?
EK: The owner loves it, they see it as a means to an end. They often semi retire or start up another business. The productive staff usually pat us on the back and say “It’s about time we got organised” The reverse is true for the non productive staff, they won’t like the clarity and responsibility.
Peter: You’ve already said that most business owners normally start with the Policies and Procedures. What other thoughts do you have on that?
EK: Treat Policies and Procedures (Job Manuals) as tools. Just like all good tradesman do with their tools. You need to know when to use them, how to use them and how to look after them. Put in untrained hands it can be dangerous.
Peter: What’s your number one tip for business owners wanting to ‘remove’ the dependency of them being ‘in’ their business?
EK: It can be done, just to it properly. There is no one secret to doing this, you need to systemise your entire business so all your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. Business systemising is all about defining common sense.
Peter: Evan, really appreciate your time and insight here. I know this will be a great benefit to many of my clients and readers.
So you have an info pack that people can get. Is that right?
EK: Yes, it’s a Free Business Organising Checklist – just visit www.kolbesystems.com.au
If you'd rather talk to Evan one on one he'd be more than happy to do that, you can reach Evan on (08) 9227 8022 - just let him know you read his interview here.