Back Up Your Business
Business author Deborah Wilkinson-Gray has a message for owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses in New Zealand – and it's vitally important. Suppose you were unable to get in to work tomorrow, and also unable to communicate with your employees and customers in any way?
A single day "off the grid" probably wouldn't matter too much because your troops would carry on – but now multiply your absence by a week or a month. A serious accident or illness or even an extended trip abroad could certainly take you away for that long, and chances are by the time you returned your business would be in bad shape because nobody knows it or runs it quite like you.
That's where Back Up Your Business comes in. It's a short, practical, step-by-step guide for business owners and managers on how to "back up" or absence-proof a company by setting down all the systems and processes and policies that make it work. The idea is that if you weren’t there, an acting manager, employee, temp or friend could step in, access the information you have provided, and have enough to run the business smoothly.
The key step in Back Up Your Business is the creation of a Business Process Manual, a reference document that pulls together all the disparate facts and knowledge about the business in one place. This might seem to be a daunting task for a busy owner or manager, but Deborah Wilkinson-Gray makes the task much easier by providing a comprehensive and easy-to-follow template. Furthermore, she says, not every company needs to document every one of the steps she maps out because some things will not apply.
Back Up Your Business draws on Deborah Wilkinson-Gray's wide experience and knowledge in a range of businesses.
“In my career as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager I worked for private businesses, medical, real estate and tertiary organisations and local government. It gave me extensive insight into how companies work as well as an awareness of the serious need for companies to have a robust, in-depth Business Process Manual which ensures that business operations and processes are run correctly,” she says.
Back Up Your Business begins by looking at the organisation in overview, an exercise which many business owners and managers may experience as a "light bulb" moment. It asks them to set down what the business is, what it does, who its customers and stakeholders are and how it actually provides its products and/or services. The following sections of the 70-page book take a step-by-step approach to cataloguing key areas, from equipment and office systems and administration to purchasing policies, human resources and OSH policies, to financial management and insurances.
In each case, Deborah Wilkinson-Gray encourages owners and managers to link the information they gather to their computer files.
"A Business Process Manual can certainly be used as a print document, but since we live in an online age it is easier to keep and find information online and certainly faster and easier to update it," she says. The latter task, she says, should be scheduled into the calendar every year.
The value of a Business Process Manual is fully realised, she says, when a business owner or leader is suddenly absent and/or incapacitated. It's a scenario that's also explored in her other book, Getting You Organised, which is about creating a Personal Information Log for people in your life to access after you pass away.
"A Business Process Manual isn't just about a worst-case event though," she says. "It is important to the daily operational efficiency and profitability of your company, and it is actually an asset. If you own a franchise, a Business Process Manual is a great way of sharing with others what makes your business unique and special.
"If you are contemplating a succession or sale, it makes your business a more attractive proposition for the new owner because all the information they need is easy to find. In every case, a Business Process Manual is a very worthwhile investment. Every responsible manager backs up the company's computer files – so why not do the same for your whole business?"
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Owner / CEO
I have a background as an Executive Assistant / Office Manager working for private business, medical offices, real estate agencies, tertiary organisations and local government. This has given me an extensive insight for the serious need for a robust in-depth BUSINESS PROCESS MANUAL to ensure business operations and processes are run correctly, which has become my forte. It follows that this should also apply to the home and personal environment.