Why every small business needs a manual
Creating a manual for your business will help to ensure it runs efficiently and at a high standard, even in your absence.
A business manual is a document that records the processes, structure and standards of your business. Below are some key benefits to creating a manual for your business.
Often in small businesses the ‘business knowledge’ is kept inside the head of the owner or other key staff. However, have you thought about what would happen if you get ill? What would happen if a key staff member leaves? Maybe you’d like to go on an extended holiday? Documenting procedures in your business manual can help ensure that the business can carry on without you, with no adverse impact to the clients.
Manuals can be a fantastic resource to support the induction of new employee/contractors. It can also help guide those providing the induction to ensure that all key areas are covered. The manual can also give the new employee/contractor a feel for the business’ processes, culture, goals and vision.
"If you were given the choice between buying a smart TV with a manual or without a manual, which would you choose? "
Selling the business/franchising
If you were given the choice between buying a smart TV with a manual or without a manual, which would you choose? A manual provides knowledge and confidence for prospective buyers, especially in the event of something going wrong. While your business is very familiar to you, for others, business clarity depends on the information you provide. A business manual should provide a clear road map of your business operations. If you are looking to franchise, a business manual is just the beginning. Comprehensive documentation and systems are an important part of the franchising process.
Want more articles like this? Check out the processes section.
A business manual or procedures document gives your processes more structure and stability. When outsourcing, the service provider is likely to be more confident and self-sufficient more quickly if they have a good understanding of your business. This will help you to get the maximum benefit from the outsourcing arrangement.
If you don’t have a recognised quality management system in place (such as ISO 9001) having a business manual can go a long way towards reassuring clients that your business is capable of providing a service or product to a consistent and appropriate standard. A business manual can help bolster your status as an organised and capable business. Some potential clients, especially government organisations, prefer to deal with businesses that have systems in place.
If your business is subject to regulations/standards you will probably be visited by auditors or inspectors. Rather than being interviewed about your business for hours on end, a business manual can be used as evidence of your compliance (in-principle) and provides an overview of your business to assist the inspector or auditor with the inspection process.
“But I want to protect my knowledge”
If you’re concerned about keeping knowledge about your business private, a lawyer can draw up confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements for you to use for dealings with suppliers, clients etc. Also if there is a concern about employees taking your knowledge and starting up in competition to you there are also “non-competition” clauses that can be incorporated into employment agreements to restrict competition for a certain period.
Manuals help to ensure that your business can operate uninterrupted, your clients are unaffected and you have the peace of mind that your hard work won’t be undone.
Do you have a business manual or procedures document? How have they helped you?
For more on the benefits of business manuals and how to create one, check out Mary’s infographic on Pinterest.