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Posted: 2013-11-27 / Author: Luther C Diedericks

How Small Business Success Can Become More Predictable

Small business success can become more predictable if they apply appropriate best management practices

The Breakthrough Survey is the cornerstone of the Small Business Breakthrough Project. It has been designed to identify the specific steps that a start-up can take to accelerate their company’s growth.

An annual survey in 2011/12 on small business came to the conclusion that small business success can become more predictable if they apply appropriate best management practices as out lined in business excellence models like the SA Excellence Model (SAEM).

The survey has been designed to identify the specific steps that a start-up can take to accelerate their company’s growth. The hypothesis is that small business success can become more predictable if start-ups apply appropriate best management practices earlier in their life cycle.

Best management practices are widely viewed as the key to innovation, consistent quality, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, increased profitability, rapid growth and maximizing success. They offer entrepreneurs and business leaders a mountain of wisdom to optimize and transform their companies. Yet, too few small businesses climb the mountain. They are either unfamiliar with best practices or are unable to turn theory into practice. This is a detriment to their companies, whose success is unpredictable. It is also a detriment to their communities, who rely on small businesses to fuel employment and GDP. Given the recent economic data, this is truer than ever.

In a survey during 2011/2012, they over 220 survey participants to rate themselves on business maturity Levels 0 to Level 5 as presented in the Breakthrough Growth Chart, (see graphic below), and then asked them about their attitudes, behaviours, business structure and performance. Over 45% of the participants had less than 3 employees and of that, one half had 1 employee. 92% had less than 50 employees.

What was found is:

  • At level 0 the “desires” of small business are great. They are enthusiastic and are shooting high. Their performance is also rated high.
  • As business mature they seem to lose sight of strategy, process and people and their performance degrades. At Level 2 they start to lose the importance of process and do not recover much as they mature to Levels 3-5.
  • Business success seems almost random (and a small difference from level 0 to 5). Although organizations report that they are “focusing on business basics” they do not seem to be engaging in process or strategic improvement. In other words, there seems to be a disconnect between their intentions and appropriate action.
  • The data shows that many small businesses require more direction in practical implementation of Business Excellence best practices. Many are struggling with a lack of guidance.
  • We found a slight ROI for those companies who (randomly discovered and) implemented best practices. With a better focus on best practices, it could be better.

The heart and soul of your company are its day-to-day processes.

Your business day begins. You approach your company’s entryway. You unlock the door. You turn on the lights. You log on to your computer system. You fire up your production equipment. Your employees start pouring through your doors. The usual chatter of people talking, phones ringing, and machines whirring, slowly brings your business to life. It is the everyday processes that are performed by you and your employees that represent the lifeblood of your business.

What is that work?  Do you know?  The problem in most organizations is that they have not properly identified, systematized or standardized their day-to-day processes. Work just seems to get done.

Even worse, a company may have hired an outside consultant to create operating procedures. This usually creates a very expensive, inaccurate book of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are sitting on a book shelf collecting dust.

A better approach is to empower frontline employees to document and improve their own process areas. This creates a set of living SOPs that are continually updated and improved by the people who know the processes best. It also teaches frontline employees how to manage, lead and be held accountable for achieving quality results. Consultants and coaches can be hired, but their preferred role should be to support process teams to document their own work.

Poorly defined processes create many problems:

  • It is difficult to create a tradition of job sharing and cross training when your company’s processes are not documented with effective policies, procedures and training methods.
  • Poorly documented processes create an environment that is ripe for bottleneck and job traps. It is likely a key reason your company cannot scale its operations to accommodate rapid growth and is stuck on the bumpy road of Phase Three.
  • It makes it difficult to identify the root cause of recurring problems.
  • It makes it difficult to implement a program of continual improvement or lean manufacturing techniques.
  • It makes it difficult for leaders to make the connection between inefficient/ineffective processes and profits.

To break through to your company’s next level of success, you need to identify, document and continuously improve every process in your company. Proper documentation includes policies, procedures, training methods, forms, systems, schematics and anything else that makes it easy for the process to be performed consistently and effectively by multiple, cross-trained employees.

When systematizing and documenting processes, your goals should include:

  • Ensuring the process is performed with consistency and excellence, regardless of who performs the work.
  • Preventing your organization from becoming overly dependent on specific people doing specific work.
  • Eliminating potential bottlenecks.
  • Encouraging job sharing and cross training.
  • Ensuring the process can scale to accommodate rapid growth.

SA Business Hub brings the “Breakthrough Approach” to life!

You want your business to break through. You want to end the stress and frustration of putting out the same fires over and over again. You want a way to achieve consistent results –even when you are not doing the work. You want to build a loyal team who you can count on… but not become dependent on. You want to build a solid, sustainable, scalable and, one day, even a saleable company.

The question is, how?! I am pleased to announce that with our national and international partners we development an unique approach we are now launching for the first time. We want to enable you take back control of your business and your life. Together, we hope we can inspire a new generation of small business owners to build solid, sustainable, scalable and saleable businesses that benefit their employees, their communities and themselves. It is another wonderful way we can help businesses break through to their next level of success.

SA Business Hub is excited to announce our partnership with The Breakthrough Project and software. This joint venture provides you with many new benefits including free access to ManageHub Software and the new ManageHub Breakthrough Book.

ManageHub software offers you a flexible, customizable, step-by-step business-optimization approach that supports:


** Leadership development
** Optimization and turnaround
** Creating a culture of coaching
** Strategic planning (and implementation!)
** Values alignment
** Continuous operational improvement

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