Small Business Seeks Growth

One of my clients asked a couple of fascinating and provocative questions on this month’s webinar. One of them was that she wants to scale her business, but wants to know how? This challenge is common to small businesses seeking growth. They need to build their Signature System.

Why is it a Challenge?

For most small businesses, the business is in the owner’s head, even where they have employees. Critical processes are not documented. This oversight means that the owner is the single point of failure in the business; that’s risky. It also makes it challenging to explain business processes to employees and to train them effectively. Besides, it means that it’s tricky to sell your value proposition (the bundle of services or products you offer to customers) at scale.

So, there is the opportunity to capture your intellectual property, by writing it down. There’s also the opportunity to manage your risk. Writing your IP down means someone else can run the business for you. This is ever more vital as the business grows, enabling proper support of the owner. The preceding steps enable successful businesses to scale and helps them identify the pain points with which they are struggling.

How? Your Signature System

You need to put together your signature system. This is 5, 7, or 9 significant steps that summarise how value flows from you to your customers.

Developing your system starts with capturing your business model. This idea was created by Yves Pigneur and Alex Osterwalder. You can start on this by using the free pdf, Dynamics and Drivers, that you can get from this website. It’s also part of my online course ‘Momentous Leadership’ and is central to my 12-month mentoring program – the Edge.

Once you’ve got the model, you break down each step, by capturing your processes in what is called Pink Sheets. This is an idea created by Matt Church, Peter Cook, and Scott Stein in Thought Leaders Practice. I’ll write a follow-up post on that later. It would help if you also modelled the value flow of your model. I use Matt, Pete and Scott’s Green Sheets to do that – and I’ll follow up on these too. Once you’re there its time to map the processes operationally; I’ll demonstrate that in another follow-up.

With all this in place, you have a signature system.

Write It Down or It Won’t Happen

There is a quote attributed to Michael Lopp: “the rule is simple: if you don’t write it down, it never happened.” For a small business, it’s a case of “if you don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen.”

Whether you’re successful or struggling, if you want to scale to sustained growth, you need to write your signature system down.

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