4 Reasons Why you Must Document your Business

This was originally a guest post I wrote on The Productivity Blog

Bad process documentation can kill your business dead. Here’s how:

1. Quality of Work

Documenting your processes is proven to improve quality of work. Dr. Atul Gawande in his bestseller, the Checklist Manifesto, presents facts that show using checklists in surgery has significantly increased success rates, resulting in tens of thousands of lives saved. He also shows how a wide range of industries from construction to venture capital have improved quality through documentation.

Poor quality work can destroy your reputation sending your customers running. No customers, no business.

2. Employee Turnover

We all know staff come and go. Keeping on to the good ones is important, but sometimes there is nothing you can do. When a key employee unexpectedly ups and leaves it can have a crippling effect, especially on small businesses.

This pain can further be accelerated if you, the business owner, has non-work related issues to deal with.

If this unfortunate circumstance is ever to happen to you, make sure you have your documentation in order and you just might get through it.

3. Rapid Growth

Growth is the most exciting phase of business. It’s the reward for all the blood, sweat and tears. But growth is a double edged sword. With big ups come big downs, and if you are not prepared to manage the growth, your business can implode on itself. Hiring and training new staff, processing larger order quantities, supporting more customers and opening new offices are highly complex processes that if done incorrectly can cost you lots of money or even collapse your business.

Ensuring you have processes in place to manage these growing pains is of the utmost importance.

4. Acquisition

If you ever want to sell your business, having proper documentation is of the utmost importance.

A prospective buyer wants to know the business they are buying is going to run effectively on its own, without you, the former owner having to be there.

Having your standard operating procedures documented can help you close the deal and even get you a sale price. While poor documentation could cause the deal to fall through.
If you still need more proof on the importance of process documentation, check out this book by Michael Gerber – The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.

So what are you waiting for? Document or die.