Why I love the e-myth (part 2)

Defining Roles in Your Business

In this second entry in my series of blogs on why I love ‘The E-Myth’, I want to focus on the three business-related personality traits identified by Michael Gerber. All business owners and their employees, has elements of all three traits in their personality, but in almost everybody, one trait will likely be dominant.

In this blog, I’ll be explaining how Quality Management can help your business get the best out of all these aspects. For although they are, as Gerber asserts, often at odds with each other all these traits working harmoniously are vital to the success of any business.

The Entrepreneur, The Manager and the Technician

However, before we come to that, let’s look at the three traits as Gerber defines them, and get to know their strengths and weaknesses.

The Entrepreneur is the ‘ideas person’ – someone with vision, capable of looking at the ‘big picture’ and defining where things should be going. Always living in the future, the Entrepreneur is the trait that makes the big plans that carry everyone else in their wake. However, they don’t tend to do well with the nitty-gritty of actually organising things to make their plans a reality.

The Manager on the other hand is all about organisation. Managers abhor chaos and adore order and stability – a place for everything and everything in its place is what they aspire to. However, in isolation the Manager’s fixation on order can lead to stagnation and a dearth of ideas.

Finally, the Technician takes pride in the nuts-and-bolts tasks; methodically working one step at a time to do what must be done. The Technician takes pride in their work and is diligent, with a great capacity for attention to detail. But, left alone, Technicians can become swallowed up by the details, lacking either effective leadership or strategic vision.

As you can see, each trait has unique strengths and weaknesses in the business environment and everyone will have a one of them that is more ‘dominant’. The key to success for a business is getting to a place where everyone is working to their strengths to drive the business forward – and that’s where a good Quality Consultant comes in.

Constructing An Effective Framework – The Importance of quality management in Playing To staff Strengths

One of the most effective ways to get the best from your employees is to have a sound framework and process map in place with clearly defined duties and responsibilities for all staff, as well as standardised procedures and a practical and useful Quality Manual.

As a business owner, this may seem an intimidating task, especially as you will almost certainly be fully wrapped up in dealing with the day-to-day running of the company.

This is another reason why employing the services of a good Quality Consultant is an important step to take in the development of your business, and one that will provide you with a good return on your investment.

An independent Quality Manager can take an objective view of your business, and help create exactly the kind of organisational framework and procedures it needs to help it grow. Every business is different so, just as the three traits must work harmoniously for best effect, every company requires its own organisational framework, suited to its needs – and providing that bespoke service is what I’m all about.

If you’d like to learn more about how Quality Management can help you get the best out of you and your staff, whether they are Entrepreneurs, Managers or Technicians at heart, why not give me, Ellen, a call on 01858414226. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Why I love the E-Myth (part 1)

I’m a great advocate of the principles of Quality related by Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, as I firmly believe that All About Quality’s own principles align with them very well.

So what are these principles? Well, as far as I’m concerned, the core issue is that the Business Development Process, of which Quality Management is a key part, should become an integral feature of the business and play a core role in communication between participants in the Quality Management process.

In this way, the concept of Quality acquires a real relevance to the business, its personnel and its activities, as part of the recipe for successful business life. As Gerber writes:

“Continuous improvement for it’s own sake is a waste of time.

Life is what a business is about, and life is what this work is about. Coming to grips with oneself, in the face of an incredibly complex world that can teach us if we’re open to learn.”

(Gerber, M. ‘The E-Myth Revisited 1995, p.132)

This is precisely what I want All About Quality to stand for. When I go into a company to advise them on Quality Management and Business Improvement, I want this process to be far more than just filling out forms and ticking boxes. I want it to be a process of continuous learning.

However, continuous learning should always have a proper purpose in your business.

I want the solutions AAQ helps in implement to be a real benefit to the company’s activities long-term; in the way things are done, the way processes are followed and matters are communicated. I aim to take the approach advocated by E-Myth Worldwide; I create processes that take into account the specific requirements of clients and their companies as a whole, rather than adopting a narrow focus.

Michael Gerber writes of the Business Development Process as a metaphor for personal transformation. In particular, he draws attention to the following points that a BDP should be about:

“For developing real skills within a structure of your own design. For understanding the dynamics of change, of value, of understanding, of thought.”

(Gerber, M. ‘The E-Myth Revisited 1995, p.133)

This is what All About Quality strives to do when working with our clients. I see my work as much more than helping clients achieve ISO9001 certification – although obviously this is still a key goal! But as part of that process, I aim to help companies I work with develop and grow in ways suitable to them, not as part of a prescribed, one-size-fits-all framework.

If you’d like your company to gain ISO9001 certification, and would also like help in developing a Business Improvement plan that will give an overall boost to your company’s prospects, then why not give me, Ellen at All About Quality, a call on 01604210488. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Why you don’t want ISO 9001 for your business

For a start, ISO 9001 costs you money and time. Time and money are precious resources.  Why waste it on something you don’t want or need?  What’s even worse is ISO9001 makes you do all sorts of things you just don’t want to do like record Management Reviews or put in new systems that just seem to add bureaucracy to the company.  The most common complaint I hear is that ISO9001 increases the amount of paperwork in a company and have to agree it generally does.  You then have to pay for a Quality Consultant to help you implement this unwanted system. On top of that, you have some external auditing company also charging you money to come in and ask you lots of intrusive questions that you just don’t like being asked.  After all, who likes to be audited and shown they are just not that perfect after all?  (I don’t for one!). Once you have ISO9001, it doesn’t automatically guarantee you will win work either. It just enables you to maybe tick a box on a tender and save a few hours’ work. Hardly worth it, is it?

I hear you. I also agree with you, as when ISO9001 is implemented half-heatedly, with no attention to how it is adding value to your company then it is indeed a waste of time and resources.

However, when ISO9001 is viewed as a tool to help your company grow and develop, it is great value for money tool that you actually need.

ISO9001 is crucial for any business that wants a firm foundation for growth.  If you use the standard as a positive tool in your business then, among other things, it will:

a)                Clarify what you do and how you do it.

b)                Help you get the most out of your employees.

c)                Give you a framework to manage your business objectively, to help you grow in the direction you want to go in.

d)                Enable you to bid for work with some blue-chip companies and large organisations such as the NHS or government agencies, which wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have the standard.

The benefits vary depending on your company as every business is different.

But what about those negative points mentioned in first paragraph?

Well, the answer is to make sure that when you implement ISO9001, you understand why you are implementing everything. Don’t just do it because you are told you have to by a consultant somewhere.  You need to understand:

·        Why it is a good idea to have documented procedures (then having them won’t bother you).

·        Why formal Management Reviews with notes taken are a good idea that will help you grow your business how you want to.

·        Why you are spending money on a Quality Consultant and External auditor (bringing in expertise  you don’t have, and to make sure you get that all-important certificate at the end to help improve sales)

Would you like to know more about why you need ISO9001? Give us a call on 01604 210488 and we can talk about you and your company’s needs.

Been Told You Can’t Edit Your Quality Manual?

In the past 5 years since I started my consultancy I have had several clients tell me that their Quality Consultant will not let them edit their very own Quality Manual or associated templates. The Quality consultants are also the external auditors in these cases and pass the companies for their ISO9001 certification.

Does that ring alarm bells with YOU? It Sure did me!

It left me wondering 3 things:

1) Why would any Quality Consultant not let someone edit their own Quality Manual?

2) Why would any company use a Quality Consultant who is not interested in adding value to their business and dictates what they can and cannot do?

3) Why are External Auditors allowed to audit what is essentially their own work?

The generic quality manuals that I saw were little more than copies of the basic Quality Standard, frequently long-winded and having no resemblance to the nature of the actual company. Moreover, business owners are sometimes told that they cannot edit these dust-caked paper monsters, and cannot implement their own templates or other procedures for their own audits and other requirements. Presumably this makes it easy for the external auditors to assess them, but unfortunately, it has little chance of adding value to the client’s business.

So what do I do now – chuck my Quality Manual out of the window??

Well yes! Just make sure it doesn’t hit anyone on the pavement outside!

Rest assured my clients have now thrown away their old paperwork already and they now take full ownership of their own Quality Manual and templates.

Tweet: For me, the best thing ever is when my clients say of their Quality Systems, “IT’S MINE” and they take ownership and responsibility for their procedures, manuals etc.

All my clients have also been nicely surprised by just how decent the new external auditors are and how much more they actually help them improve their business (and they don’t add much more in the way of costs, either).

Most importantly, they have a Quality Consultant they can rely on to do the best for them – the client. We do what the client needs, with the ultimate aim to add value where possible, not take the money and run.

So I would suggest it is time to think again. Quality Manuals are not untouchable sacred texts. To treat them like this is to see ISO9001 as a simple box-ticking exercise to get certification. But if you do this, you’re not getting proper value out of your Quality.

Want to talk more about how to get rid of your door-stop Quality Manual and get a system that is bespoke to you? Call me on 01604210488

Getting Things Done and Wunderlist

Quality is all about continual improvement so I’ve been re-reading the latest edition of ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen in order to help increase my productivity. I started an MSc in Total Quality Management and Organisational Excellence last month and need to schedule time very carefully to ensure I get everything done on time.  I have been practising ‘The 2 minute rule’ of getting things done that take under 2 minutes that fall into my inbox for quite some time.  That helped increase my productivity no end and regularly enables me to get to ‘Inbox Zero’.  What I needed to do now was to figure out a better way to manage my ‘to-do’ list and projects.

I’m glued to my iphone and computer most days so it made sense to start using an electronic ‘to-do’ list application.  I decided after trying quite a few to stick with ‘Wunderlist’.  It is available on all platforms, easy to use, has capability to sort lists into folders and has sub-tasks which can be used as checklists. So far this is the folder structure I have come up with:

  • Inbox – This is my collectbox of all ideas and actions
  • Clients – All actions to do with my clients goes in here
  • Business Projects – This folder has all my projects for my business in it
  • Finance – This has anything related to Finance in it
  • Networking – This helps remind me of commitments made while out networking
  • Personal – All my personal projects go under here
  • Shopping – I hate shopping so keeping a list helps make that efficient as possible!
  • MSc – This is where I keep all my MSc related projects
  • Someday – Projects and ideas that I want to do someday

I’m sure this list will evolve over time, but for now it works for me.

The next thing I need to implement is the weekly review.  This is where you review all your folders and allocate next actions to complete.  Using the sub-tasks section in Wunderlist I have created a ‘Weekly Review Checklist’ for this purpose.

Having set all this up I feel confident it will increase my productivity and help me continually improve my service to clients.   If you want help setting up a system to improve your productivity just give me a call on 01604210488

Reducing Risk and Understanding Personal Protective Equipment

As well as reducing the risk of workplace accidents even occurring in the first place, minimising their impact is an employers ethical and legal obligation. It’s through an understanding and provision of the correct Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.) that employers can be sure that their staff are protected against the ever-present risks of injury that come with working in industrial environments, including; Construction, Civil Engineering, Manufacturing, Logistics, Mining and Offshore, Farming and many more.

Employers are of course responsible for providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to workers, but even when the most stringent controls and safeguarding systems are in place, potential hazards still remain and probability has it that injures will on occasion occur. Threats to the lungs, head, ears, eyes, skin, body and feet lie around ever corner in some heavy industrial settings. Although PPE should be considered the very last resort in protecting workers, it must be correctly implemented and it must meet the relevant legislation deeming it fit-for-purpose i.e. suited to the hazardous working condition it is intended for.

As a rule-of-thumb, always source PPE products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. Be wary of equipment that isn’t. As well as invalidating your insurance, your workers might be placed at risk of injury. Their PPE may not be as effective as CE marked products. Although generic PPE, such as helmets, high-vis jackets and safety footwear can be sourced very inexpensively, the small cost-savings in no way justify the potential lack of quality assurance.

A good starting block for assessing suitable PPE, for interpreting what the regulations require, and to gain an understanding of selections and use, along with the hazards and types of PPE is to refer to the government Health and Safety Executive’s Personal protective equipment (PPE) at work guide, downloadable here ( http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg174.pdf). However, safety footwear is where the numerous specifications and classifications can be somewhat confusing and overwhelming. With so many workplace injuries relating to slips, trips and falls, ensuring safety footwear protects the wearer against all probable risks is vital. Luckily, help is at hand. A simple-to-follow, one-page safety footwear Guide from Gorilla Safety Footwear can be downloaded free of charge here ( https://gorillasafetyfootwear.co.uk/selecting-the-right-safety-footwear/).

To discuss individual PPE items, or to arrange for a demonstration of PPE products, visit www.gorillasafetyfootwear.co.uk for more information.

Return on Investment in your Referral Relationships

What we’re looking for in our business is profit, a good financial return on the investment we make. Marketing is the key investment we make to win the clients who will bring in that return on investment. And we measure what we put in, investment on a website, pay per click advertising costs, sales calls made, advertising costs etc etc And we record the results of these endeavours in conversions to sales. We then make decisions on where to invest further depending on where we’re getting the best return on that investment.

If we are looking for business by referrals we will record the costs of going networking in time and money against the business we receive as a result. We may even, if we’re really disciplined, record the referrals we’ve given and the referrals we receive. What many people are not good at doing is measuring all the other investment they make in that referral relationship.

When you do this is where it can get messy to interpret if you confuse the two outcomes you want from your referral marketing strategy.

For the business you want a profit- more out than you put in.
For each referral relationship you want equity- the same out as you put in.

Referral relationships are just like all our other personal relationships. They are built on trust and each person gaining what they want from the other party. This assumes that you know what the other person wants and that you have the ability to deliver it. Get that right and you will have a successful relationship.

So if you’re measuring the return on investment in your relationship, equity is what you are looking for and that needs a separate group of measures. We call it the Emotional Bank Balance and just like your money in the bank you have to put in before you can withdraw and, to stretch the metaphor further, negotiate an overdraft when necessary.  So what kind of activities are you looking for in a referral relationship:

1. Time for you . Someone who makes themselves available for you, keeps appointments, invites you to activities you’d enjoy or find useful and comes to your events when invited, thinks about you and acts when opportunities for you arise in their busy day.
2. Information and advice. Someone who freely gives you information on the things that interest you or are relevant to you and your business.
3. Support and encouragement. Linked to the above ,they look out for your interests, and are there when it gets tough as well as when you want to celebrate. They believe in you and what you’re doing.
4. Business generation. The prime reason for this relationship is business so the other party needs to undertake activities that actively promote your business. At the highest level this would be direct referrals to people who need your services. However there is a whole range of other activities they could do on your behalf. From simple things like giving your blog space in their newsletter to more direct help with introducing you to key players within your target market.

Now for many people the thought of formally measuring this is daunting and/or appears manipulative. They instinctively recoil from measuring tit for tat in their personal relationships. They just “know” when it’s good and are getting what they want from the other person. Yet I bet most of you can think of a relationships that foundered because what one party “knew” wasn’t what the other person wanted at all.

My referral tip for this blog is if you want a productive business relationship fcus on the first of these activities. Invest in spending time with this person getting to know each other and finding out what they want to achieve. Then you can each invest in the relevant other activities that will give you both a return on your investment.

If you want to learn more about how to get a great return for your investment in marketing visit my blog http://blog.referralinstitutenn.co.uk/ and sign up for regular referral tips.

Jacky Sherman
The Referral Institute
jacky@referralinstitutenn.co.uk Tel: 07970 638 857

Note from All About Quality – Jacky runs great workshops all about how to build our referral network for free! Click here to book on 

Are you planning to sell your business?

Are you planning on selling your business?

Do you have plans to sell your business?  Doesn’t matter if the plan is to sell it now or sometime in the distant future. The main thing is that you have a plan to sell your business.

So the question I ask you is if you want to sell your business do you have written down processes or work instructions in place? If not, I ask why not? Whoever buys your business is going to want to know that:

  • You have reliable processes in place
  • That your processes are consistent
  • Your processes are written down
  • The employees are trained and competent  in what to do
  • Processes are measured where possible

So how do you fulfill your potential buyers need? Well, you don’t need a certified system like ISO9001, but you do need written Quality Management System in place. A written Quality Management System will:

  • Document how you do what you do
  • Agree roles and responsibilities
  • Create templates for everything
  • Record employees training and competence
  • Monitor and measure processes

If you need a Quality Management System in place then a Quality professional is best placed to help you as they are used to putting systems in place. At All About Quality we specialize in putting in systems for small and medium businesses in the service industries. If that’s you, please don’t hesitate to get in contact on 01604 210 488.

 

5 ways to improve your business

When your a small business the thought of implementing a standard such as ISO9001 may seem daunting task.  However that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve what your doing in a systematic way.  The 5s Quality methodology is ideally suited to small businesses. The 5s’s will help get your business into top shape so that when the time comes from you to implement standards like ISO9001 you will already have the foundation for it embedded into your business. The 5s’s are listed below. These apply equally well to those who work in services and use computers as their ‘workbench’ as it does for manufacturing and engineering companies.

1 – SORT

  • Remove unnecessary items and dispose of them properly 
  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles 
  • Reduce chance of being disturbed by unnecessary items
  • Prevent accumulation of unnecessary items
  • Remove all parts not in use
  • Segregate unwanted materials 
  • Don’t keep or segregate unneeded items

 

2 – STREAMLINE

  • Arrange all items so they are easily selected to use
  • Prevent waste and loss of time
  • Make it easy to pick up and find necessary items
  • Make workflow easier and smoother
  • Make things regular

 

3 – SHINE

  • Sweep, sanitize and scrub
  • Clean workplace completely
  • Use cleaning as inspection
  • Prevent equipment deterioration
  • Keep workplace easy and safe to use
  • Keep your workplace pleasing to work in

 

4 – STANDARDIZE

  • Standardise all best practices in workplace
  • Maintain standards of housekeeping
  • Maintain everything in order and according to its standard
  • Everything in its right place
  • Every process has its standard

 

5 – SUSTAIN

  • To keep in working order
  • To do without being told
  • Perform regular audits
  • Training and discipline
  • Get feedback regularly

 

Hope the above list has given you some idea on how to improve your business.  I did this as a presentation at networking once and alot of people reported they went home and cleared there computers and desks of all old and irrelevant items so found immediate benefit from it.

All About Quality helps clients implement 5s in their businesses by working systematically through a checklist, helping them implement the steps and holding them accountable to changes made. If you would like to have a 5s improvement programme for your business no matter how small or large pleased contact me on 01604210488.