One of the key contemporary challenges for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ventures remains this: that without proper businesss processes and business competencies, opportunities disappear.
Informed commentators often note that the level of competition in markets has led to an emphasis, especially in recent decades, on competition at a deeper level than just products and services.
The deeper level is competition created by innovation in business process and business competency. It’s part of improving productivity by working smarter, not harder.
Since proper processes and related competencies are critical for productivity improvements, it makes sense to systematise them for entrepreneurial efforts to benefit from creations, inventions and innovations. This is not an easy task. Why?
Common expectations can be unrealistic
Let’s consider the entrepreneur’s challenge in seeking legal advice.
A common expectation is that lawyers give legal advice and draft legal documents. Very often this is all they can do. Entrepreneurs and executives, their coaches and consultants, are expected to prepare practical or technical advice and documents. The common expectation is they handle the business side.
There is little common expectation as to who is supposed to align or unify all this advice.
However, this knowledge management problem is not easily resolved. This is especially so in small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) where resources are limited. SMEs and their advisers all too often in our experience fail to do some critical things that can save enormous time and money when a real fire starts.
Improve business process in 9 steps
So as to just get on with it, here’s a practical list of things an SME should consider to properly treat processes:
- Recognise that the success of – major online businesses like Webjet, Wotif and Seek, many retailers like Woolworths, many franchisors (eg McDonalds, Bakers Delight etc) and successful service businesses (eg successful consultancies and professional services firms) – are all engaged in ongoing refinement of their processes.
- Take steps to define business processes and related business competency needs before entering into legal negotiations. And please, don’t draft a contract if you know not how it will be implemented in practical terms!
- Study supply chains, distribution channels and workflow involving customers – all of these can affect whether a party will perform or fail under a legally binding contract. Do not sign if you don’t trust that there will be satisfactory performance.
Business process maps improve legal work
- Test expectations by using brainstorming with customers, suppliers, colleagues and perhaps even competitors; use mind mapping and use software tools to do graphs, eg in Word, PowerPoint or other programs
- Contact us for a conversation about templates we can provide to help you in your journey.
- Now to bring it all together, prepare a process map (we’ve got a template for this too) and prioritise processes for improvement looking to achieve best practice by looking at any existing standards and practices in your industry and of other organisations.
- Work out who are the stakeholders (eg customers, staff, shareholders) and understand their needs (eg service, remuneration, dividends) as they relate to your processes.
- Don’t do the proposed legal deal, until you document the processes and competencies, or schedule when they’ll be done by, to what standard and on what fee basis.
- Determine how and when you’ll monitor and review progress to continuously improve and minimise risks and also to ensure your venture stays on plan.
Certainly, there are lots of “legal problems” requiring treatment by good lawyers.
The point of this article is that there are in our experience even more business process and business competency shortfalls that, if not corrected collaboratively by all those involved, land on a lawyer’s desk and… if litigation is looming… they go through the sometimes miraculous change of identity into a “legal problem”. Then everyone draws away, reaches for the gun in their pocket, and “leaves it to the lawyers to solve the problem”. Admit it, you recognise this pattern. Lawyers talk about it all the time at cocktail parties, rarely in writing, unless it is cloaked in academic jargon.
For a conclusion it is worth re-emphasising practical and non-legal ways to overcome the contemporary challenge for entrepreneurship.
Why integration is a great thing
Management processes and competencies must be implemented for an entrepreneurial or commercialisation venture, creation, invention or innovation to succeed.
- They require documentation and customisation for each enterprise. This may require training, mentoring, coaching and specialist professional services.
- The legal and non-legal documentation should be integrated (if you prefer aligned or unified) in some way, and by someone with competency.
- The need for integration of business systems leads to the need for:
- an environment which nurtures creativity, invention and innovation,
- a focus on customers,
- an awareness of commercial considerations,
- a taxonomy that has coherence across an enterprise,
- structuring which at all levels has a coherent framework,
- standardised transaction processing procedures,
- clear project management methodologies, and
- template documents, tools, layouts and formats.
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