20 lessons over 20 years #12 – Disregard for process

By Allon Raiz

Over the past 20 years, Raizcorp CEO Allon Raiz has learned many tough lessons and overcome many entrepreneurial challenges. He has also had the privilege of learning from the journeys of over 13 000 entrepreneurs who have passed through Raizcorp. In this series of articles, Allon shares 20 of some of the most important lessons he has learned using a sequence that mirrors the typical stages of any entrepreneurial journey – from ideation through to scaling a business.

In business, there is a saying: “Process will set you free.” For entrepreneurs who are whizzing through their days, shooting from the hip and relying on their gift of the gab, this saying feels very far from the truth. Who has time to write process, never mind follow process, when everything is so urgent?

Then you take on your first employee and the issues begin . . .

Someone has to educate the new employee about what they are required to do and to what standard – and that is you. Someone, at some point, has to manage the new employee and the quantity and quality of their output – and that is you. All of which eats into the little amount of time you have available.

The way this commonly unfolds is that you don’t develop training or scorecards. You simply verbally tell the new employee what is expected of them and, if you remember, inform them of the standards they must achieve. Then off you go, whizzing around, until the new employee needs more information, makes a massive mistake or, most likely, is fired for lack of performance.

Now your valuable and limited time is taken up by CCMA hearings and the search for a new employee – and, once you find the new employee, the pattern repeats. You remain in this cycle until you are exhausted or financially drained. This cycle can move through one to two to ten employees!

An important lesson I have learned is that if you don’t take the time and care to provide new employees with comprehensive training and detailed, documented processes to understand and follow, you will never be able to launch your business out of this repeating cycle. My direct experience working with over 100 businesses over the past 20 years has made it abundantly clear that those businesses that document their processes and manage the quality and quantity of output relative to those processes are the ones that have the highest chance of scaling and succeeding.

Process does indeed set these businesses free to scale, and free to make a profit.

My advice to all entrepreneurs who are starting out is to begin building process and training from day one so they are not overwhelmed by the magnitude of process that must be documented years down the line.

It is important to give a balanced view on process, to understand that for process to be effective, it must be constantly updated to remain relevant. This comes at a cost to the business. There is also a downside to businesses that are over-systemised and that is that the bind of following current and imbedded systems dulls innovative thinking within the business. In these cases, entrepreneurs must be far more deliberate about encouraging innovation. Having said that, though, I would choose a systemised business over a non-systemised business any day. Systemised businesses are easier to run, easier to manage and are far more valuable to potential buyers.