When I was about ten years old, our roof got in some serious disrepair. We lived in a house built in 1906, and the creaky beams and bones of wood were showing their age. The wooden shingles had been damaged by years of rain and wind, and water started to leak through the ceiling.
- Define the strategic objective of your business. Carpenter gives very specific examples of this in the book. You can also use a much higher-level description like Guy Kawasaki’s example of “mantras” in his book The Art of the Start. His personal mantra is “empower entrepreneurs.” I am not totally decided on mine yet, but a key objective is definitely “promote liberation.”
- Define the general operating principles of your businesss. Operating principles guide your decisions, and allow you to choose which systems and processes are truly necessary to run your business. Some examples from Carpenter’s business are:-We focus on just a few manageable services. Although we watch for new opportunities, in the end we provide “just a few services implemented in superb fashion, rather than a complex array of average-quality offerings.-The money we save or waste is not Monopoly money. We are careful not to devalue the worth of a dollar just because it has to do with the business.-We study to increase our skills. A steady diet of reading and contemplation is vital to personal development. It is a matter of self-discipline.
- List the key processes and systems that underlie your business. For my coaching practice, there are processes like client acquisition, blogging, bill paying, teleclass delivery and forum moderation.
- Work on cleaning up and documenting one process at a time. You may want to choose the most high-impact system to document first. Write down all the steps involved in clear, simple, step-by-step language.
- Automate as much as you can of the mechanical processes. Outsource things you don’t need to do yourself. Tools like autoresponder email systems can work great for this. (Aweber.com is what I use for this newsletter and signups for all my classes)
If you haven’t started a business, it would be great to keep this framework in mind as you design your business model.
- Email management (set up filters and rules for taming the email beast!)
- Grocery shopping (I hand write my list every week, trying to remember the basics — how about if I created a pre-printed list that I could hang on the refrigerator?)
- Laundry (I used to have four different laundry baskets in everyone’s rooms, then I switched to a central basket in the laundry room and it is much easier. Talk about a task I would love to outsource!)
- Remembering birthdays (this is one area I have been terrible at in the last few years since I relied on my memory instead of calendaring everyone’s birthdays. Maybe next year I will remember to call my best friend on her birthday (January 14) for the first time in three years)
- Rotating food in the refrigerator. (We have gotten in the habit of cleaning out the refrigerator every Tuesday night, since the trash goes out on Wednesdays. It really helps cut down on “mystery scientific experiments” growing in the back of the shelf.)
You can see your systems don’t have to be glamorous. They just have to work well, and allow you to spend your time doing what you really want to do.