In his book The E-Myth Revisited (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), Michael Gerber made a succinct observation on the roles of different stakeholders in an entrepreneurial business process. According to Gerber, "the entrepreneur's job is to create the process, management's job is to make sure the process is followed, and the technician's job is to use the process."
Even though the implementation of business processes seem decidedly simple, most entrepreneurial businesses suffer and die because they fail to do what they set out to achieve.
The role of prioritization and priorities in implementation of entrepreneurial processes
There is no single right way to follow in this area. However points of pain that come up quite often and strategies that work include:
- Documenting process implementation so that others could follow - reducing points of failure
- Creating processes, or paring them down to units that can be understood by those who would use them
- Rewarding and incentivizing improvement of processes
- Prioritizing processes - spending time and efforts over strategizing and deciding upon which processes to put in place first, and finding out which processes are enough to get things up and running, but not overbearing enough to push the business to a precarious position in just trying to keep them running
- Drilling it into the business culture that process implementation is not a one-time event
- Properly estimating time and costs of installing new processes
- Balancing process implementation with pace of growth
- Closing knowledge gaps by bringing in consultants
- Strategizing when to invest ahead and when to play catch-up
- Not trying to do too much at once
Paradoxically, one of the biggest problems in process implementation occur when entrepreneurs think that they could solve the problems of process implementation by hiring managers from big companies, who would bring in the required expertise and knowledge capital.
While this strategy works in many cases, and quite substantially, if the manager is adaptable and shares an entrepreneurial mindset himself, too often we find managers who behave like fish out of water. Managers from big companies who are used to having support, resources and tools at their beck and call find it difficult to adapt to the resource constraints and fast pace of growth in startup businesses.
What definitely works here is to find a manager from a large company who also has experience of working in a successful entrepreneurial company. In the alternative, people who failed in their own entrepreneurial ventures in early life, but went on ahead to become a successful manager in a large company can also help an entrepreneurial venture implement its processes, provided he had learned from his failures.