“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
~ Helen Keller

Meet Your Board of Advisors

Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, to help you make pivotal business decisions, and to serve as a sounding board.  Major corporations have a Board of Directors.  Non-profits have a Board of Trustees.  Why can’t the solopreneur or small business owner too?  You can!  How?  By developing a Board of Advisors for your business.  You’ve heard of Mastermind groups, through which like-minded peers share ideas and support each other’s business endeavors?  A Board of Advisors is similar, but usually consists of individuals from outside your industry, even clients.

Striking the Right Balance

I am a Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach and Motivational Speaker.  I’ve been in business for seven years, am structured as a Limited Liability Company, and consider myself a solopreneur, in that I have no employees working for me.  My Board of Advisors consists of an individual with a marketing background, an individual with a publishing background, two other successful professional organizers with a very different business model and focus than mine, two long-time clients, and my very supportive, objective husband.  A good number to strive for is 5-8 members.  Be careful not to include anyone on your Board of Advisors that pushes your buttons, saps your energy, or is competitive.  In addition, try not to surround yourself only with “yes” men and women who nod approvingly at everything you do, and never challenge you or hold you accountable.  You want members that challenge you to stretch your entrepreneurial muscles.

Do not confuse your Board of Advisors with your official team of advisors.  Your team of advisors is usually made up of people that you retain to assist you with certain aspects of your business operations, such as a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer, webmaster, etc.  These are paid professionals that you hire to provide services to your company, as opposed to an individual that is voluntarily providing assistance to you and your business.  Yet another category of people that may provide assistance to your business are what I call power partners.  These are vendors that you refer your clients to, or that you partner with on a project basis.  Again, these partners are extremely valuable to a small business, but do not serve as a Board of Advisors.

What Does a Board of Advisors Do?

What can your Board of Advisors help you with?  Everything and anything.  A Board of Advisors can push you when you need a nudge, lift you up when you lose focus or faith, and help to keep you on track.  Mine assisted me with the re-branding of my company last year, including the design of a new logo, business card, brochure, and website.  Yes, I used a graphic designer and web designer to actually create the promotional materials, but it was my Board of Advisors that helped me to capture the overall vision and message I wanted to achieve.  A Board of Advisors can act as a sounding board for the future launch of programs.  When I was developing my signature approach to organizing, DECIDE®, my Board of Advisors provided invaluable feedback.

You can also use your Board for market research.  These days, we have a plethora of resources available online, including social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, survey tools such as Survey Monkey, as well as forums provided by professional associations (for example, as a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have access to the NAPO Chat, which is an invaluable resource).  All of these are fantastic resources, and serve a relevant purpose to a small business.  But, there is something magical about a consistent group of people that can go deep with you, gets to know your business intimately, and is vested in some way in your success.

What Are The Rules That Govern a Board of Advisors?

When I recommend to a small business client that he or she create a Board of Advisors, invariably the client will ask me what the rules are that govern this type of relationship.  It is entirely up to you and your Board of Advisors.  Communication is key, so think about how you will communicate with your Board members.  Do you hold in-person Board meetings, or communicate virtually? Should you develop a special online membership forum or website to communicate?  I communicate with members of my Board of Advisors in numerous ways — by email, telephone and in person, as some are local.  I have never convened a full Board meeting, although that may be in my future plans.

What are the benefits to your Board members?  Some just want to be a part of a growing, successful business.  Others may want tangible benefits, such as the ability to take your workshops for free, or buy products at a discount.  Ask what they want in return.  Find a way to acknowledge or reward the members of your Board of Advisors to let them know they are an asset to your business.

On the flip side, if you are asked to serve on a Board of Advisors, take the request seriously.  I recently had to turn down an invitation because I knew I could not actively participate at that time.  I appreciated the offer and confidence in my feedback, but passed it onto someone else that was a better match.

Take your time putting together a great complementary Board of Advisors and experience the positive affect it will have on your business.  Now, go forth and create your village!

Copyright © 2008 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2008. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at .

Join Me For the Third Teleclass in the Series:
Bold Business Moves: Moving Your Business in the Right Direction

team

This Teleclass will be on Tuesday, June 28th titled: Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business ~ Building Your “Team”

Are you a solopreneur and often find it lonely? Maybe you are a small business owner with employees or subcontractors, but find yourself wanting to brainstorm with those outside your business? You can! Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, help you make pivotal business decisions, and serve as a sounding board. Set your business up for success by enlisting the help of others. Options are plentiful, from using virtual assistants, independent contractors, and employees, to brainstorming with business colleagues, setting up a formal Board of Advisors, participating in a Mastermind group, or hiring a business coach.

Studies show that business owners achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability programs. Identify different ways to partner with others to improve your business by engaging in competition, and learn the differences between various types of accountability tools. Determine which accountability tools are the best match for your business, and how to implement them. Hear about what other like-minded entrepreneurs are doing. Walk away with a plan to enlist the help of others in your business in a way that makes the most sense for your business model, stage, and needs. Get ready to create your village!

Date: Tuesday, June 28th
Time: 7:30-9:00 pm EST
Can’t make the live call? No problem! All teleclasses will be recorded & available on MP3.
Location: From the comfort of your home or office

Investment:

  • IRIS members: $35
  • Non-IRIS members: $39

Register Online here.

Who Should Participate:
IRIS & NAPO members, professional organizers, interior designers/redesigners, home stagers, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, etc.

Do you want to brainstorm with like-minded business owners, while learning from a business coach, lawyer and trainer of entrepreneurs? This series is a cost-effective way to get quality business advice at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one coaching/consulting. Come join us for a teleclass series that promises to deliver great results!

testimonial
About the Presenter:
Lisa Montanaro is an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author. Lisa founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC in 2002, and since then, has helped thousands of people and organizations live better lives and operate better businesses. A sought-after business expert due to her background as an attorney, mediator, and trainer of entrepreneurs, Lisa offers business coaching to professional organizers, and other entrepreneurs and small business owners. Part consultant, part coach — Lisa gives expert advice, while also guiding clients to the answers they seek. Lisa presents at national conferences, has been interviewed by television and radio hosts, is a frequent guest expert for national teleclasses and webinars, and has been widely published on the web and in print. <

Join me for a Teleclass Series: Bold Business Moves: Moving Your Business in the Right Direction.

The third Teleclass will be on Tuesday, June 28th titled: Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business ~ Building Your “Team”

Are you a solopreneur and often find it lonely? Maybe you are a small business owner with employees or subcontractors, but find yourself wanting to brainstorm with those outside your business? You can! Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, help you make pivotal business decisions, and serve as a sounding board. Set your business up for success by enlisting the help of others. Options are plentiful, from using virtual assistants, independent contractors, and employees, to brainstorming with business colleagues, setting up a formal Board of Advisors, participating in a Mastermind group, or hiring a business coach.

Studies show that business owners achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability programs. Identify different ways to partner with others to improve your business by engaging in competition, and learn the differences between various types of accountability tools. Determine which accountability tools are the best match for your business, and how to implement them. Hear about what other like-minded entrepreneurs are doing. Walk away with a plan to enlist the help of others in your business in a way that makes the most sense for your business model, stage, and needs. Get ready to create your village!

Date: Tuesday, June 28th
Time: 7:30-9:00 pm EST

Can’t make the live call? No problem! The teleclass will be recorded & available on MP3.

Location: From the comfort of your home or office

Investment:

  • IRIS members: $35
  • Non-IRIS members: $39

Register Online here.

Who Should Participate:
IRIS & NAPO members, professional organizers, interior designers/redesigners, home stagers, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, etc.

Do you want to brainstorm with like-minded business owners, while learning from a business coach, lawyer and trainer of entrepreneurs? This series is a cost-effective way to get quality business advice at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one coaching/consulting. Come join us for a teleclass series that promises to deliver great results!

Unsure if you are getting the most out of your business?

Unclear as to whether your business is going in the right direction?

Feeling like you could use a business plan revamp?

Then get ready to take your business to the Next Level!

Join us for a Half-Day Live Workshop in Denver, Colorado

Next Level Business Success: Ready, Set, Go!

Presented by Lisa Montanaro
Certified Professional Organizer®, Business & Life Coach,
Motivational Speaker, Author

Your investment includes:

  • A half day of education, interaction, and networking
  • Workshop handouts, including a customizable Action Plan that will help you implement what you learn
  • A resource guide filled with business/legal/entrepreneur articles written by Lisa
  • Subscription to the Next Level Business Success ezine
  • A follow-up group coaching call within 60 days of workshop completion
  • 30 minute laser coaching session with Lisa to be used within 6 months of workshop
  • Unlimited email access to Lisa after the workshop ends
  • Certificate of Attendance for continuing education credit

Bonus: Networking lunch served from 12:00-1:00 pm after workshop (exclusively for those that register for full day program, which includes Branch Out workshop from 1:00-4:30 p.m.)

Topics Covered: The workshop will help you create a plan designed to implement business growth by focusing on three phases: Ready (assess), Set (strategize and plan), Go (take action). We will examine where your business is now, where you want to take it, and how you will get it there. This interactive, entertaining, and intensive workshop will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your business
  • Active business planning strategies
  • Best practices for business owners
  • Marketing/Unique Selling Proposition
  • Ideal Client/Target Market
  • Business models
  • Business Systems/Operations Manual
  • Create a strategic plan for growing operations
  • Start preparing for your exit strategy
  • Delegating and outsourcing
  • Hiring employees or subcontractors
  • Creating multiple streams of income/leverage your content
  • Establishing a Board of Advisors
  • Accountability checks/tools
  • Focusing on your unique areas of brilliance within your business
  • Learn how to work on your business, not just in it
  • Hear valuable lessons learned based on the presenter’s years of experience as a successful business owner

Who Should Attend: Are you a solopreneur and often find it lonely? Maybe you are you a small business owner with employees or subcontractors, but find yourself wanting to brainstorm with like-minded business owners, while learning from a business coach, lawyer and trainer of entrepreneurs? Perhaps you are at a pivotal point in your business, and need to make some tough decisions.

Regardless of the level your business is ready to move to, this workshop will help you get there. If you are in the beginning stages of business, this workshop will help you start off on the right foot. If you are in business for years, this workshop will help you figure out what’s next and give you a customizable Action Plan to get there.

You will leave the workshop motivated and prepared to act. If you’ve never seen Lisa in action, come join us for a workshop that promises to deliver great results!

Rave Reviews from Past Attendees of Lisa’s Workshops:

“You are very well-spoken and a wonderful presenter. You did a great job providing so much relevant content and without giving us that feeling of info-overload.”

“I went to your workshop at the NAPO Conference and just wanted to tell you how impressed I was. You are such a knowledgeable and good speaker. I have already implemented so many of your suggestions. Yours was the only CD I purchased from conference. I am sure your session will benefit me for years to come.”

“The level of energy and enthusiasm you bring into the training environment is truly admirable and your organizational skills certainly show proof of the amount of effort and thought you place in preparing for your workshops.”

“Your workshop at the NAPO National Conference was alone worth my entire investment (registration, hotel, transportation, food, etc.). Thank you so much!”

About the Presenter:
Lisa Montanaro is an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author. Lisa founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC in 2002, and has helped thousands of people and organizations live better lives and operate better businesses. A sought-after business expert due to her background as an attorney, mediator, and trainer of entrepreneurs, Lisa offers business coaching to professional organizers, and other entrepreneurs and small business owners. Part consultant, part coach — Lisa gives expert advice, while also guiding clients to the answers they seek. Lisa presents at national conferences, has been interviewed by television and radio hosts, is a frequent guest expert for national teleclasses and webinars, and has been widely published on the web and in print.

Unsure if you are getting the most out of your business?
Unclear as to whether your business is going in the right direction?
Feeling like you could use a business plan revamp?

Then get ready to make some Bold Business Moves!
Join us for a Teleclass Series

Bold Business Moves: Moving Your Business in the Right Direction

Presented by Lisa Montanaro
Certified Professional Organizer®, Business & Life Coach,
Motivational Speaker, Author

Dates: Tuesday evenings – May 31st, June 14th and June 28th
Time: 7:30-9:00 pm EST

  • Designed as a series, but able to be taken individually too, each teleclass is 90 minutes in length.
  • Can’t make the live calls? No problem! All teleclasses will be recorded & available by on MP3.

Location: From the comfort of your home or office
Investment:

  • IRIS members: $35 for each, or $89 for the 3-part series
  • Non-IRIS members: $39 for each, or $99 for the 3-part series

Register Online for all sessions here (or follow the links below to register for individual teleclasses).

Teleclass 1 – May 31st: Blueprint Your Business: Create Business Systems & An Operations Manual
blueprint businessBusiness Systems help a business to run without you if you become ill, take a vacation or go to a business conference. They provide the infrastructure that needs to be in place to effectively delegate without taking up too much of your precious time as the business owner. Business systems make it easier to hire and train an employee or retain an independent contractor, delegate to an assistant, to yourself, or to the business itself. Business Systems and Operations Manuals will not only help you run your business more effectively, but will help you start preparing for your exit strategy. This teleclass will guide you in creating an Operations Manual and cover what it should include.
Register for the May 31st session here.

Teleclass 2 – June 14th: Branch Out & Mix it Up: Creating Multiple Streams of Income
You are a solopreneur or small business owner, and you wish you could make more money, but you can’t be in more than one place at one time or clone yourself. What to do? Create multiple streams of income! Multiple streams of income help to build a business with less work by offering multiple ways for clients to access you, your company, and your services/offerings. Learn how to leverage and re-purpose your content, expand your delivery methods, offer options at multiple price points, and give clients a menu or suite of services.
Register for the June 14th session here.

Teleclass 3 – June 28th: Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business ~ Building Your “Team”
Are you a solopreneur and often find it lonely? Maybe you are you a small business owner with employees or subcontractors, but find yourself wanting to brainstorm with those outside your business? You can! Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, help you make pivotal business decisions, and serve as a sounding board. Set your business up for success by enlisting the help of others. Options are plentiful, from using virtual assistants, independent contractors, and employees, to brainstorming with business colleagues, setting up a formal Board of Advisors, participating in a Mastermind group, or hiring a business coach. Studies show that business owners achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability programs. Identify different ways to partner with others to improve your business by engaging in coopetition, and learn the differences between various types of accountability tools. Determine which accountability tools are the best match for your business, and how to implement them. Hear about what other like-minded entrepreneurs are doing. Walk away with a plan to enlist the help of others in your business in a way that makes the most sense for your business model, stage, and needs. Get ready to create your village!
Register for the June 28th session here.

Who Should Participate:
IRIS & NAPO members, professional organizers, interior designers/redesigners, home stagers, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, etc.
Do you want to brainstorm with like-minded business owners, while learning from a business coach, lawyer and trainer of entrepreneurs? This series is a cost-effective way to get quality business advice at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one coaching/consulting. Come join us for a teleclass series that promises to deliver great results!

Rave Reviews from Past Attendees of Lisa’s Teleclasses or Workshops:

  • “She’s bright and shiny on a dreary day, she sings, she dances, she’s a Professional Organizer, oh and did I mention she’s an attorney too? She’s Lisa Montanaro, and she was one of our favorite teleclass guest experts last year. Lisa can answer all those pressing questions you have been afraid to ask or didn’t know where to turn to for the answers. What I really like about her is her approachability. Speaking to a business coach and attorney can be a little intimidating, but Lisa knows how to answer the tough questions while making sure you truly understand the answers.”
  • “You are very well-spoken and a wonderful presenter. You did a great job providing so much relevant content and without giving us that feeling of info-overload.”
  • “I went to your workshop at the NAPO Conference and just wanted to tell you how impressed I was. You are such a knowledgeable and good speaker. I have already implemented so many of your suggestions. Yours was the only CD I purchased from conference. I am sure your session will benefit me for years to come.”
  • “The level of energy and enthusiasm you bring into the training environment is truly admirable and your organizational skills certainly show proof of the amount of effort and thought you place in preparing for your workshops.”
  • “Your workshop at the NAPO National Conference was alone worth my entire investment (registration, hotel, transportation, food, etc.). Thank you so much!”

About the Presenter:
Lisa Montanaro is an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author. Lisa founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC in 2002, and since then, has helped thousands of people and organizations live better lives and operate better businesses. A sought-after business expert due to her background as an attorney, mediator, and trainer of entrepreneurs, Lisa offers business coaching to professional organizers, and other entrepreneurs and small business owners. Part consultant, part coach — Lisa gives expert advice, while also guiding clients to the answers they seek. Lisa presents at national conferences, has been interviewed by television and radio hosts, is a frequent guest expert for national teleclasses and webinars, and has been widely published on the web and in print.

I just found out that I will be presenting at the 2010 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference to be held in Columbus, OH. My presentation is titled, “Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Organizing Business.” It will focus on delegating, outsourcing, developing strategic partnerships, engaging in coopetition, etc. I had the pleasure of presenting to peer professional organizers at the 2008 NAPO Conference in Reno, NV, and am thrilled to be chosen to present again next year. Giving back to the professional association and industry that I belong to is an honor.

And in honor of next year’s presentation, below is the article of the same name that prompted the idea to submit the presentation in the first place. I hope it gives you some great ideas for your own business, regardless of the type of business you run.

Meet Your Board of Advisors

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, to help you make pivotal business decisions, and to serve as a sounding board.  Major corporations have a Board of Directors.  Non-profits have a Board of Trustees.  Why can’t the solopreneur or small business owner too?  You can!  How?  By developing a Board of Advisors for your business.  You’ve heard of Mastermind groups, through which like-minded peers share ideas and support each other’s business endeavors?  A Board of Advisors is similar, but usually consists of individuals from outside your industry, even clients.

Striking the Right Balance

I am a Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach and Motivational Speaker.  I’ve been in business for seven years, am structured as a Limited Liability Company, and consider myself a solopreneur, in that I have no employees working for me.  My Board of Advisors consists of an individual with a marketing background, an individual with a publishing background, two other successful professional organizers with a very different business model and focus than mine, two long-time clients, and my very supportive, objective husband.  A good number to strive for is 5-8 members.  Be careful not to include anyone on your Board of Advisors that pushes your buttons, saps your energy, or is competitive.  In addition, try not to surround yourself only with “yes” men and women who nod approvingly at everything you do, and never challenge you or hold you accountable.  You want members that challenge you to stretch your entrepreneurial muscles.

Do not confuse your Board of Advisors with your official team of advisors.  Your team of advisors is usually made up of people that you retain to assist you with certain aspects of your business operations, such as a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer, webmaster, etc.  These are paid professionals that you hire to provide services to your company, as opposed to an individual that is voluntarily providing assistance to you and your business.  Yet another category of people that may provide assistance to your business are what I call power partners.  These are vendors that you refer your clients to, or that you partner with on a project basis.  Again, these partners are extremely valuable to a small business, but do not serve as a Board of Advisors.

What Does a Board of Advisors Do?

What can your Board of Advisors help you with?  Everything and anything.  A Board of Advisors can push you when you need a nudge, lift you up when you lose focus or faith, and help to keep you on track.  Mine assisted me with the re-branding of my company last year, including the design of a new logo, business card, brochure, and website.  Yes, I used a graphic designer and web designer to actually create the promotional materials, but it was my Board of Advisors that helped me to capture the overall vision and message I wanted to achieve.  A Board of Advisors can act as a sounding board for the future launch of programs.  When I was developing my signature approach to organizing, DECIDE®, my Board of Advisors provided invaluable feedback.   

You can also use your Board for market research.  These days, we have a plethora of resources available online, including social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, survey tools such as Survey Monkey, as well as forums provided by professional associations (for example, as a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have access to the NAPO Chat, which is an invaluable resource).  All of these are fantastic resources, and serve a relevant purpose to a small business.  But, there is something magical about a consistent group of people that can go deep with you, gets to know your business intimately, and is vested in some way in your success.     

What Are The Rules That Govern a Board of Advisors?

When I recommend to a small business client that he or she create a Board of Advisors, invariably the client will ask me what the rules are that govern this type of relationship.  It is entirely up to you and your Board of Advisors.  Communication is key, so think about how you will communicate with your Board members.  Do you hold in-person Board meetings, or communicate virtually? Should you develop a special online membership forum or website to communicate?  I communicate with members of my Board of Advisors in numerous ways — by email, telephone and in person, as some are local.  I have never convened a full Board meeting, although that may be in my future plans.

What are the benefits to your Board members?  Some just want to be a part of a growing, successful business.  Others may want tangible benefits, such as the ability to take your workshops for free, or buy products at a discount.  Ask what they want in return.  Find a way to acknowledge or reward the members of your Board of Advisors to let them know they are an asset to your business. 

On the flip side, if you are asked to serve on a Board of Advisors, take the request seriously.  I recently had to turn down an invitation because I knew I could not actively participate at that time.  I appreciated the offer and confidence in my feedback, but passed it onto someone else that was a better match. 

Take your time putting together a great complementary Board of Advisors and experience the positive affect it will have on your business.  Now, go forth and create your village!

Continuing with my series of business articles in honor of my presentation to entrepreneurs at the IRIS Conference in Denver, below is the second article. It is all about creating an Operations Manual, an idea I will be sharing with the attendees of my workshops this afternoon. I hope it prompts you to blueprint your business soon!

Can Your Business Run Without You?
 
What would happen to your business if you became ill for an extended period of time?  Could someone else man the shop for you easily?  Would you be more relaxed on vacation (or at the very least, take a vacation!) if you knew that the business could be better taken care of while you are away?  Have you ever thought about hiring an employee or assistant, but are overwhelmed with the thought of training someone in all of your business systems and processes?  Are you holding onto too many tasks that you know you could be delegating, but don’t have the infrastructure in place to effectively delegate without taking up too much of your precious time as the business owner?  If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in need of a business blueprint!  It’s time to create an Operations Manual.
 
What is an Operations Manual and Why Do I Need One For My Business?
 
Before you started your business and in the early stages, you probably did a lot of planning.  Most likely, you were told to draft a business plan, and you may have even done so.  Unfortunately, most small business owners rarely look at their business plan after creating it, thereby rendering it meaningless on a daily basis.  A business plan is a static document, as opposed to a living and breathing one that serves as a guide to your business systems and processes.  Developing systems and taking the extra step to document them is vital to a business running smoothly and automatically.  Unfortunately, most businesses are lacking in this area.  Business owners get caught up in the daily activities of running the business, and do not take the time to document or blueprint the systems in place.  In the E-Myth Revisited, author Michael Gerber sets forth the idea that all businesses need to be “franchised” in the sense that they can run automatically, deliver a consistent experience to customers, and can be maintained, at least to some extent, without the owner’s hands-on involvement.  While you may not literally be franchising your business, Gerber’s concept broadly translates into developing an Operations Manual for your business.
 
What Are the Advantages of an Operations Manual?

 
An Operations Manual makes it easier to delegate and run your business.  However, even if you have no employees, independent contractors, or assistants of any kind, the importance of an Operations Manual should not be overlooked.  It provides structure and clarity by helping you examine the big picture and how each part fits into the whole.  It is also a handy tool for reminding yourself of your business systems when things get busy and you are overwhelmed.  The manual serves as a central location for vital business information, making it easier for you to find what you need in one fell swoop.  In a nutshell, an Operations Manual helps promote a consistent experience for your clients, and helps you avoid reinventing the wheel. 
 
What Format Should an Operations Manual Be Stored In?
 
An Operations Manual can be hand written if that is your absolute preference, but I would not recommend it.  As this document is so vitally important to your business, you should maintain it in electronic format.  It is easier to revise, send as an attachment when necessary, and be backed up to avoid loss of data.  Some clients prefer to create their Operations Manual using a 3-ring binder approach.  While this may be tempting, if that binder is destroyed or lost, there goes all of your hard work in creating an Operations Manual.  Do yourself a favor and store the manual on a computer (and back it up!) or online at a secure site.
 
What Should an Operations Manual Include?

 
An Operations Manual is the manual of all manuals.  It can be as comprehensive as you want and need it to be.  It should serve as a blueprint of your business for you, your employees, assistants (virtual or on-site), and anyone else that is on a need-to-know basis.  The Operations Manual essentially covers everything that goes on behind-the-scenes of your business.  Here are some examples of what an Operations Manual may include, but as you develop one for your business, you will undoubtedly think of many more items to include. 

  • Passwords to all of your online and offline business accounts
    (be sure to give some thought to maintaining proper security measures);
  • List of frequently used business supplies with purchasing/ordering information;
  • List of business documents;
  • Prospects intake process;
  • Client intake process;
  • Sample email templates;
  • List of all team members and their contact information;
  • Procedures for hiring new team members and training them;
  • Preparing for client sessions, proposal pitches, speaking engagements, professional association meetings, etc.
  • Client follow-up process.
Take the time to draft an Operations Manual.  It will be time well spent, and you will reap the benefits of it long after you finish the blueprint.