Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Chris Ronzio.
How far away are you from owning a company that runs itself? For many entrepreneurs stuck in the day-to-day grind, the goal of focusing strictly on running your business seems impossible to attain. Owning a business comes with an endless list of new fires to put out, and if you’re the best firefighter in the company, you will save the day, every day.
But if you aspire to join other business owners and spend 100% of your time actually running your business, you can—you just have to effectively document, train, and delegate.
Learn how with this simple, five-part formula:
1. Make a List of Everything You Do
A year before I sold my last company, I replaced myself by promoting my operations director to President. My soon-to-be President welcomed the opportunity. However, he also questioned it: “I don’t think I even know everything you do, so how am I supposed to do it?”
It sounds obvious, but how many of us list every single thing we’re responsible for at our companies? From simple things like calling the alarm company to more important things like negotiating contracts or firing employees, there are dozens or hundreds of things that we do, often every day, in and for our companies.
If you ever want to start delegating and get that list down to zero, you have to expose the list first. Start with a blank sheet of paper or Evernote document, and make a list of the things you do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. For an example list, click here.
2. Break Everything Down Into Simple Steps
Next, you’ll need to break down your list, because a step-by-step process accompanies every item on it.
Consider the “small” task of taking out the trash:
- Every Friday at 5pm, check the trash can.
- If it’s more than 50% full, change it.
- Pull the bag out and use the draw strings to tighten the bag.
- Carry the trash out the back door, and toss it into the large green dumpster.
- Find a replacement bag underneath the kitchen sink.
- Replace the bag.
- Close the lid.
Most processes in your company can be thought through this way, with most tasks comprising 5-15 steps. But if you don’t write down those specific steps, the tasks won’t get delegated effectively. This is why you must write down every step.
Yes, it’s tedious, but if you ever want to delegate the most mundane of tasks, you need to write down the tasks’ steps somewhere. And the steps don’t have to be perfect! Just write them down to get you started. If you need help beginning the process, download a simple checklist or request a free process notepad!
3. Perfect Your Processes
Once you document your processes, you’re past the hardest part — now it’s time to perfect or refine them. You’re bound to come across some things through the step-taking process that could be improved.
Fine tuning your processes is something you can crowdsource with your employees. And you really should. If they help create the process, they take ownership of its outcome — even if it’s something as small as taking out the trash on a regular basis.
Also remember: processes are meant to evolve. If you’re in business for any length of time, you will update your processes, probably every few months or so. Because of that, you should keep your tasks and processes in an easily accessible place like Trainual.
4. Assign Everything on Your List to Someone Else
Now that you have a documented list of processes, build a responsibility matrix. Start with the list of tasks and add a column for employees, roles or leaders (depending on the size of your company). Go down the list and put an X next to the employee responsible for each process. If you’re not quite ready for a full matrix, you can also try a simple Handoff Holder.
Return to this exercise monthly or quarterly because your job isn’t done until you can assign every item from your list to another person in your organization. As you work on the matrix, craft job descriptions. It’s an easy thing to do, and it might as well get done now rather than later.
If you’re wondering why I recommend this action, remember you’ll have time and energy to pursue new opportunities. Those could grow sales, and they could increase sales so much that you need to make new hires. If you’ve got the job descriptions finished already, it’ll make recruiting and interviewing much, much easier.
5. Make the Finances Work
Getting yourself out of a job and running your business is something everyone can do. However, few succeed at it.
Part of the problem lies with you, the business owner. You likely rely on the salary made from doing a job in your business rather than running your business. If that salary has to pay someone else to do the work, you can’t survive.
Because of that, set profitability goals that will allow you to hire your replacement as you document and perfect your processes. If your business pays you an annual salary of $80,000 and gains a profit of $10,000 after all expenses, aim to make $90,000 in profit instead.
Train Yourself Out of a Job
The best entrepreneurs don’t have jobs — They have opportunities. And if you want to be free to chase them, you’ve got to train yourself out of a job. (Tweet this.) The five-step process I shared here helps you focus on running your business and prepares you for being open to your next opportunity. So, make a list of what you do, describe what you do in simple steps, perfect your processes with the help of your team, and delegate everything one task at a time. If you do, opportunity will come knocking soon.