When we treat our business like a

In today’s marketplace where small is the new big, custom is the new standard and large companies are jealously eyeing the ability of small makers like us to be quick and nimble and able to pivot on a dime (our businesses, not so much our feet, at least not my feet!) there are still some things big companies have a lot of experience doing right that we can learn from.

I worked for a corporation for 10 years and much of what I learned during that time, stuff that I gladly threw out during the first few years of being in business for myself, I have had to bring back into my business over time (in my own ways) to create sustainability and scale.


1. Systems

If we do not consciously choose our focus, our time will be stolen by distractions. {click to tweet}

Businesses need systems. Systems to value our time, secure our foundation, establish structure and processes and allow us to take responsibility for the work we put into the world.

This could take the form of a procedure manual that breaks our makings into a step by step process that can be duplicated if it needed to be.

This could take the form of a schedule – we never had a job where we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and we haven’t created a business that can do this either (darn it!).

I have a calendar with chunks of hours and I work with it as much as possible. Two hours for such and such then if it’s not complete and I am out of time, I stop anyway. I schedule in another hour somewhere – that way I’m not thinking about such and such; that thing I have to do. I’m not stressing because it is hanging over me and unfinished. It’s scheduled. It’s over for me until that time period on my calendar when I take it back out.


2. Policies

Businesses need policies. They do not have to be written in stone, but there is no point in having policies if we are always changing them.

When I worked for a bank we had lots of rules and lots of regulations and lots of manuals. There was a rule for everything and a certain way that almost everything needed to be done. Many of these ways and rules were exactly the reasons some of us no longer work for places like banks or dream of no longer working for places like banks but one positive thing this system of practices did was allow us (even with a sign in every office reminding everyone that the customer was always right) to say no when we needed to.

When we don’t have any rules for what we will and will not do, we are more likely to make re-active rather than pro-active decisions. {click to tweet}

(This is the difference between running around in our slippers looking for a fire extinguisher and de-tangling that messy pile of cords behind our desk and preventing the fire in the first place – this actually happened to me many years ago, yikes!)

Reactive decisions are made on the fly and based on our emotion in the moment or on guilt or wanting approval – proactive decisions are thought out and support the intentions we have for our business. This allows us to grow in intended ways. They help us set up the systems to spend our time in the best possible ways for us.

For example I get a lot of requests for charity donations for auctions and things. Early on I would ask people to email me a request with the letterhead of the charity and I would send them off some jewelry, but it got to be a little too much and what I really wanted to do with my donations – support the causes I was passionate about – was getting lost. So, I added a page to my policy manual for charitable donations and I stick with it.

Ramping up our businesses requires structure. We don’t need the inflexible kind of structure that breaks because it can’t bend, but we don’t want to be bending so often that we break anyway.

When we want our businesses to be bigger or if we think other people in our lives do not respect our businesses as ‘real’ businesses – this is a piece of the puzzle it can benefit us to look at.

When we treat our business like a business other people will, too. {click to tweet}

We will attract the right people and situations to enable us to grow in intended, focused ways. Plus money loves systems and structure, too – so we will attract more of the green stuff, and that’s a big plus!


3. Finances

We need to get our finances in order.

Could we get a business loan if we needed one? Could we even fill out the application? Banks, governments and venture capitalists want us to have our ducks in a row before any money flows our way.

Do we have the proper licenses, tax structure and ownership structure? We will likely need outside help with this. Find a way to pay for it. It will be worth it. If we want people to pay us for our expertise, we need to be prepared to pay other people for theirs. {click to tweet}


Is there some space in your business that could really use some structure? How can you build it?

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