I’m Learning as I Go
One thing that Business school did not teach me is how to start, run, and organize a business. That is why I am constantly searching for new business books and reading them. I recently read a book called Scale by Jeff Hoffman and David Finkel that revolutionized the way that I run and operate my business: Jumptwist, LLC. I learned from reading this book that my company was operating at a Level 2 business and was still relying on me as the owner to ensure the company runs smoothly. I realized that I needed to make changes in order to get the company to a Level 3 where I can either passively own the company or even sell it. At this level of business, the company does not rely solely on the owner and has a systemized operating plan intact.
In reading this book, I realized that although I had employees, they were just small extensions of me and not serving their own purpose in the business. I had everyone doing tasks scattered. In order to level up, I had to write down every single thing that my company does and try to delegate it and organize it into categories of either Marketing, Sales, Operations, etc. This seems like an obvious thing. You don’t really realize that when you start a business alone, you are acting as every position within the company. I was the customer service rep, I was the accountant, I was the financial advisor, marketing & sales director, general manager, and CEO. Not to mention, the cleaning lady for the office. With all of these hats on my head alone, I was focused and organized with lists of to-dos, just for me.
As Jumptwist first began to gain traction in the market and I began to find a nice following and revenue stream, I was able to hire an assistant. My first employee was a High School student and I will never forget how excited I was to have someone else chip in a little for this business. I thought he was such a great employee only for the mere fact that things were getting done without me actually having to do them. I am not down playing his work, he was a great employee for two years. Imagine my assistant and I in a room without a window, nine feet wide and 10 feet long. We had just enough room for two desks and a shelf. We put our mini- refrigerator on top of our shelf, and our Keurig on top of our refrigerator. A cup of coffee was always challenging for me being that I am barely 5 feet tall. On a positive note, I learned to appreciate airspace. A year later, I moved into a bigger office space and hired two more employees. I didn’t really stop and think about how to organize the roles of each person or even give them a simple job description, everyone was contributing to my to-do list.
The company continued to expand and was actually having our best year ever. I figured that the more you put in, the more you get out but I never thought to give everyone their own role in the company. This was mostly because no one was full time and it was impossible for me to rely on a single person for one task when that person isn’t there everyday. The company wasn’t in the position to hire everyone full time, so how was I supposed to create an organizational chart with a hierarchy of positions. I re-read the book Scale for a second time because the first time I read it, I wasn’t actually ready to apply the methods.
Second Time Around
I learned that it is important to systemize your operations even when you are a small business. It may just be me and a few employees right now, but if I want to successfully become the large corporation that I intend on becoming, I need to be ready for it. I realized that even if I wanted all the business in the world, I wasn’t prepped for it. Creating systems and processes is one of the most important things I have done to date for Jumptwist. I organized my company on a project management website called Wrike. I suggest everyone gets on it, whether you are a business owner or not. You can create projects, folders, tasks, subtasks, deadlines, and more. You can build out your business online and start sleeping nice at night. Before wrike, I had post it notes and notebooks with everything that needed to be done, scattered all over. It worked to an extent, but my employees couldn’t do anything unless I wrote them a to-do list or had to sit next to them and explain what to do. With wrike, everything is there. It has changed my life and it can change yours too!
Organizing a Small Business using Wrike
I have been using online project management systems for a few years now. Before wrike, I used Podio and Producteev. I figured out a way to do what David Finkel described to do in creating systems for my business by using Wrike. Each folder you create whether it is Marketing or Production, has a section where you can describe what you have to do in order to complete the tasks in that folder. You can attach files as well which makes this even better. By creating a system for each task your company does, you are able to streamline the business. You can even create training videos and screen shots to add to your folder’s description to make it even easier for the user to complete a task. Are you seeing what I am getting at? You might not have to take time out of your busy schedule to train someone on how to complete a task because your system is already in place and an automated description on how to do the job is there. Of course in some situations more hands-on you will have to do some training. But if it is computer work, you can simply video your screen one-time and forever teach your employees how to do the task. It is very time consuming to train new staff and this not only saves you that time, but makes sure that there are guidelines. You are no longer relying on key people, but key systems.
The time log feature is really useful because you can start and stop a timer on a specific task. This way you can track how much time is being spent doing what. I use this feature for my employees to clock in and out of work. When it is time to run payroll, I just filter the time log based on the pay period and all of their hours are there.
Probably the best feature is the how well everyone on your team can communicate and stay on top of tasks. It is like Facebook for your business as you can tag people in your comments and they will be alerted when they need to respond to something. This is great when you need to get approval or have a question that needs to be answered by someone in a different department. With this feature, no one ever needs to work in the same room again.
You can create tasks and assign specific people to specific tasks. When you log into Wrike and click on ‘My Work’, you can see all of the tasks you are assigned to. This way, you know exactly what you need to do. The screen splits so that you can see Today’s work, This week, next week, and later (which are tasks without deadlines).
These snapshots give you an idea of how productive you and your team are. It tells you how many tasks you created, how many were completed, cancelled, overdue and backlogged. This way if you are not completing tasks, you will be able to recognize it through the Task Digest. I actually discovered this feature not too long ago and was blown away by our results.
By downloading the wrike app, you can get push notifications directly to your phone making work-life even breezier. Now you can live that life you imagined being a business owner would be like! Go to the beach and check your phone if anyone needs you.
The search bar allows you to pretty much search for something throughout all of your projects. It is an amazing feature because it will pull up every task associated with the words you search for. That is sort of like magic if you think about it. It is like tearing through your office but instantly finding what you are looking for.
I think you get the point by now, project management systems are awesome, and so is Wrike. I am not quiet at the level 3 stge of business yet as I am still working out the kinks. However, I am on my way to organizing an amazing company that is about to do amazing things. It took me seven years to get where I am with Jumptwist and I wouldn’t change the journey one bit. Every lesson I learned, every struggle and disappointment I faced, i would do it all over again and again. I have finally found an outlet for all of my thoughts and can be more productive and efficient with my time and energy through organizing and systemizing my business on wrike. I strongly believe that a company cannot expand, grow, or function to its potential without proper systems and processes in place which is why I repeat that everyone should get on wrike. I have been doing business consulting for a few years now and have suggested this program to many business owners like myself. Some of them now swear by it, others are hesitant to take the time to learn how to use it. I understand that everyday is like playing catch up and it can be overwhelming to try and put your entire business operations all at once, but that is why I must re-assure you that this program is a constant changing thing. On a monthly basis, I am dragging projects around, removing folders, adding folders, and transferring tasks. There will never be a day where I look at the company’s operations and say “that is it, we are done”. My company is always changing and so is the way I run the processes. I add new ideas and take away old ones on the regular and that is why my company is growing so rapidly. The folders have expanded over the last year and I can honestly look back at the progress of the organization of the company and be amazed. I could have never set it up as it is now a year ago. I am telling you this so that you can have the confidence to start organizing your company one day at a time. Add the projects and folders as you need them. Build out your systems as you run the business. It isn’t something that you need to stop what you are doing and work on. It isn’t meant to give you more stress. I promise if you stat putting your tasks on wrike little by little, you will find yourself relaxing at night. I know what it is like to lay in bed running through all the things you need to do the next day so that you don’t forget. This isn’t a healthy way to live and it isn’t an efficient way to run your business. If you want to grow or sell your company, start organizing your systems today. If you have any questions or would like to chat with me about anything, please reach out to me or comment below. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope that I could have helped you in anyway, that is the purpose of my blog.