Two Tips for Building a Semi-autonomous Business

Would you like to build a business that is self-sufficient or semi-autonomous? Where you can decrease the amount of time you spend working in your business so that you can increase the amount of time you spend working on your business?  If so, then I have a couple of tips that I hope you can use.

1. A solid structure with a dash of flexibility.

People need to understand what is expected of them.  Customers want a consistent level of service/product regardless of which employees they work with or who builds the products they buy.  In order to truly achieve this, you need to ensure that the business is fully systemized and not operating in some disorganized, ad hoc manner.

If you take the advice from books like eMyth literally, you would fully document every little thing; right down to each micro-step – eliminating all ambiguity.  The argument for doing this is to remove the impact an individual has on your business.  To allow you to hire less talented employees, but still achieve great results.

For me, I think it depends on your business.  If you go too far with systemization, you can suck the satisfaction right out of a job for someone. This is especially true of knowledge workers.

Personally, I’ve found the best approach is to create a framework.  Ensure that everyone understands the company values (how they should behave), the goals (what you are trying to achieve), the major roles (what are their responsibilities), the major steps, and the major processes – but leave enough flexibility for people to use their brains.

Your business should empower your employees.  If you take too much away from them, then you make it easy for them to blame the system and not be accountable for their own actions.

2. Understand your role.

Hire smart people who share your core values.  Make sure that they understand what is expected of them.  Give them a framework in which they can do a great job.  Support them.

That’s it.

Your role in the company is to simply ensure that your staff have everything they need to be successful.  You are the “enabler”.  Hold them accountable for their job – but be accountable for yours.  If they don’t have what they [truly] need to be successful, then you are failing them – and not them failing you.

People once called this an upside-down organization chart.  But I find that description a tad confusing.  Let’s just keep it simple – your role is to ensure that your employees have everything they need to do their job.  Period.

Obviously there is more you can do to get your business on the road to self sufficiency, but I hope you will think about these two tips and put them in to practice.


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