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Susan Fennema talks with Tom Bronson on the Maximize Business Value podcast about the importance of documenting processes.


  • the value of documenting processes to save time and money – tips on how to properly document processes
  • why documenting processes is so important & how it can help a business reach its goals\how to create a system for documenting processes, such as using automation tools & software
  • how to identify areas of improvement and how to go about making the necessary changes
  • the importance of training staff on the documented processes
  • how to create an effective system for tracking and measuring progress

Please find the full video transcript below…

Narrator: Welcome To the Maximize Business Value Podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Mastery Partners, where our mission is to equip business owners to maximize business value so they can transition their business on their terms. Our mission was born from the lessons we’ve learned from over 100 business transactions, which fuels our desire to share our experiences and wisdom so you can succeed. Now, here’s your host, the CEO of Mastery Partners, Tom Bronson.

Tom Bronson: Hi, this is Tom Bronson, and welcome to Maximize Business Value, a podcast for business owners who are passionate about building long-term sustainable value in their business. This podcast is part of our series with speakers from the upcoming Business Transitions Summit, which is on May 2, 2023. It’s for business owners to learn how to maximize the value of their business and begin preparing for their ideal transition. Every business on the planet transitions some by design, some by default. Wouldn’t it be better if yours were by design? Come to the Business Transition Summit on May 2nd and learn how to get started. Whether you’re exiting in the next year or sometime in the next 50 years, it doesn’t matter. Come and learn. Registration is now open.

In this episode, I’d like to welcome our guest back to Maximize Business Value. She was just on a couple of weeks ago. It’s Susan Fennema, CEO of Beyond the Chaos, and that is Chief Eradicating Officer. I believe I got that correct at Beyond the Chaos. And Susan will be one of our featured speakers at the Business Transition Summit on the topic of documenting your processes, which is hugely important when it comes to business value. So welcome back to Maximize Business Value, Susan.

Susan: Thanks, Tom. And it’s Chaos Eradicating Officer.

Tom: Chaos Eradicating.

Susan: But I also want to note I’m wearing my shark tooth necklace in honor of Damon John, our most famous keynote speaker, of course, except for you. But since he’s from Shark Tank, I thought I had to at least bring the whole thing together here.

Tom: That’s right. He is the people shark, so wait until you see the video that he just recorded and we’re going to release it to the public. I think actually probably around the time this podcast drops. So be on the lookout for that on social media. So I know it’s Chaos Eradicating Officer. I don’t know why I… It’s written right in front of me. Right? Chaos, Beyond the Chaos. So tell us… Speaking of chaos, this podcast, tell us a little bit about Beyond the Chaos.

Susan: So Beyond the Chaos helps owners who are struggling with their day-to-day operations. We help them get out of it. So they get great relief and confidence from having process-driven operations, effective software tools, and some project management, some fractional project management to back them up. Our professionals- and they truly are professionals that work with us. They all deliver fractionally. So we’re excited to jump in with these owners, help in that overwhelm, increase productivity, and really free their time so that they’re able to scale their business, accelerate it, and exit it.

Tom: Yes, and having those documented processes, the thing that you guys help with so well has so much to do with value, and I’m sure we’ll get into that as we get into the topic. You’re speaking at the summit on… The session is titled Why It Pays to Document Your Processes Now. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming session.

Susan: So we’re going to talk about obviously the benefits of creating processes. We’re going to talk about where to start, how to roll them out, and how to manage them, which is really important to change your mindset from, we are a business that does X to be very process driven so that your deliverable can be consistent, your people can be held accountable and the owner can step back. So that’s really where the freedom comes in. I know a lot of times people think, oh, processes, so much bureaucracy, but you have no freedom unless those are in place and businesses want to buy businesses that they don’t have to work in. So if you are free from the business, another owner can step in and be able to just run the business and not have to do it all the time. That’s what we’re going to cover.

Tom: I have to tell you, that’s actually one of my criteria. Our listeners already know, I have owned 103 businesses in my career, owned or operated. And one of the criteria that I look for buying businesses now are businesses that have leaders in place and that have well-documented processes because I don’t want to step in and have another 40 to 60-hour week job. I just want to add to my portfolio. So that to me, what you described and the overview of this session is absolutely essential if you want to make your business sellable. So what are some of the kinds of takeaways that the Business Transition Summit attendees can expect from your session?

Susan: So one of the things is we’re going to talk about how to create a process. So it’s hard, it’s detailed and there, but there are some tricks to get at least started. And once you get started, it’s a lot easier to keep going. So how to create them is one, how to store and maintain them, because the other part about this is once you create your process, you’re not done. They now live and grow and breathe with your business, and if they don’t, you’ve just thrown away a bunch of money. So make sure that how you store them and how you maintain them is part of your process development process. Redundant.

Tom: You’re repeating yourself all over again. Redundant, redundant.

Susan: Right. Another thing that we’re going to talk about at length is how to manage them. I think one of the things that small business owners struggle with is holding their team accountable and people can get upset when things go wrong. So processes actually give you a method to be able to handle things in a lot more rational way of bringing your team together to help them solve the problem with you. And there are some methods of how to manage your people in the process, and then that also helps you with the maintenance of your process. So it’s all kind of that concept of process-driven business. And then the other thing we’re going to talk about too is what software can help you do this. What are some software options that you can bring in and different methods that different people are using to store them?

Tom: That’s awesome. That means we don’t have to sit down with just a blank sheet of paper or a Word document.

Susan: Please do not. Not recommended.

Tom: That’s gold right there. I hadn’t really thought about that. But processes are, to me, the way you described them, I mean, they’re living and breathing and it’s not something that you write and then stick on a shelf to collect dust.

Susan: Right, check off the box. I did it. Nope. That’s not enough.

Tom: Processes are so important to the success of a business, and I will tell you when I ask people… This is a frequent question I ask our clients. So if our clients are listening, if you’re a client of ours and you’re listening, you’ll recognize this question. How long does it take to train somebody, a new hire in your organization? And if it is a significant amount of time, sometimes I hear, three months or six months or a year. I’d say that, well then perhaps your process is not documented well enough because you should be able to hire somebody and at least get them firing on some cylinders within a couple of days, if not weeks. And it’s all about having well-documented processes that you can use to teach from. So living and breathing, just like a strategic plan, I think that is huge. And I am giving them tips and tricks on how to be able to do that is just amazing. I’m not even sure how you’re going to pack all this into a 45-minute breakout session.

Susan: Drinking through the fire hose, Tom, drinking through the fire hose.

Tom: Exactly. So I mean, your passion for this topic just comes through. Why are you so passionate about this?

Susan: It’s freedom. I mean, I’ve seen how processes really create freedom in your business. I’ve watched business owners be able to delegate. I’ve watched businesses grow and I’ve literally watched business owners get their lives back because they wrote a few processes. I mean, we eat our own dog food here, and it’s really made a huge difference in my ability for me to scale Beyond the Chaos too. To your point, I can bring in a consultant… Now, of course, these are professionals with a lot of experience, but I can bring them in. We run them through our process. We run through our onboarding process. We can assign them a new project that walks them through how to do it the first time. They do one and they’re golden. So once you can start systemizing how you do those things, it really then becomes focusing on delivering this amazing quality to your clients. And you’re not thinking about how you’re really thinking about serving. And I think that makes a huge difference. And you can’t do it if you don’t have the processes there.

Tom: No. And if you have a hundred people doing the same job, you also can’t guarantee that it’s all being done to the same quality unless you have a process that they’re following. Right?

Susan: Correct. And it affects your brand when you have a hundred people doing a hundred things in a hundred different ways. Let’s do the math on that. I am not a mathematician, but it’s a lot.

Tom: Yeah, that’s a lot.

Susan: That gives you a lot of different experiences that your clients are having and that should… Your brand should be how you deliver and how you serve. And if everyone one’s doing whatever they want, whenever they want, you’re not a brand. You’re just a bunch of people running around.

Tom: I like that. I like that. But what qualifies you to be a speaker on this topic?

Susan: So Beyond the Chaos has worked with over a hundred small businesses in the past six and a half years. We’ve been establishing processes with them just during that timeframe. But additionally, throughout my 30 plus, I’m leaving it at that. I’m not giving the real number anymore. Throughout my 30-plus years of experience, I have worked as an ops manager and a project manager, essentially the right hand to quite a few business owners where I was always helping that owner grow the business and make things happen by creating processes. Before I really… Way, way back before I really knew that was a thing. It just kind of came naturally to me. So as a God-given talent. So that is also a qualification that I’m required to share with the world.

Tom: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So 30 plus years. So that would- let me just do the math. You would have started that when you were four then, right?

Susan: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, when I was three, my mom used to sew, and so she had this giant jar of buttons, which hold on.

Tom: Oh boy.

Susan: Giant jar of buttons, which now I have. And I would dump them out on the floor and organize them by color, by size, and make little graphs out of them. So it is God-given. That’s for sure. That was me playing.

Tom: And how long have you been in therapy?

Susan: Right?

Tom: Wow. Yeah, our kids don’t even understand. A big jar of buttons was our toy. Right?

Susan: Right. Pots and pans, whatever was around.

Tom: I had a hula-hoop. Right. And it wasn’t even a hula-hoop, it was like a barrel ring.

Susan: That is old school.

Tom: That’s hilarious. Well, awesome. Well, so I’m confident everybody’s going to want to come to your session, but there is competition. We have 16 concurrent sessions. You will be in a group of four. So our attendees will have their choice of which session to go to, why should they come to yours as opposed to anybody else’s?

Susan: So developing processes is key. It’s the key to getting out of being an integral part of your business. I mean, if the owner is involved, as we were talking about before, if you’re involved in everything, it substantially lowers the value of the business. So no one wants to buy a job, as you mentioned. They want to buy a business that can run without you there, and you don’t want to have to be hired back to continue to do your job, essentially. Right? So the process part of this is the key to getting you out. That’s why I’d say attend this session.

Tom: I think that is a brilliant reason. So a strong argument for sure. Now, I’ve asked you this question before, so let me put a different twist on it as opposed to giving me the one most important thing. You can give me any most important thing. I mean, I know a lot of things that business owners should do to improve value, but what is an important thing business owners should do to improve value?

Susan: Well, if you were going to ask me the one I was going to say, do I really have to answer that? I just have. It creates a process in your business.

Tom: Well, I figured the answer was obvious based on our podcast, but yes. So what’s another one?

Susan: I would say embracing technology is important. If you’re already there, then take it a step further, and let’s start kind of automating your calendar and making your calendar so that you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing. The next block shows you what you’re doing so that you can be productive and effective in your work and focus on what you need to be focused on at the time. So that would be another important thing I would recommend doing to help build that business, to make time to build the business.

Tom: Use the technology, and especially, it might take a little extra time to do something the first few times, but once you embraced technology, then it can make your life very much easier. I love that piece of advice. So your bonus question today is what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Susan: There are so many things that I’m probably not going to share publicly, but there is a big one that I can, and that is don’t be so afraid to start your own business. Yeah. As you heard me say, I have well over 30 years of experience and a business that I only started six and a half years ago. I should have done it earlier. I was under the impression that how much security I could have came from a company giving me a paycheck. And it turns out you’re a lot more secure when you’re in control of how that’s going to happen. And I’ll never ever have to look for another job again.

Tom: Yeah. I am what my wife calls chronically unemployable. So yeah, would’ve had a hard time going to work for someone. I’m a great business owner. I’m a terrible employee, so I’m with you. I think that that is an excellent choice. So I wonder what… Although you don’t have to answer this, I wonder what advice you’d give that three-year-old person sorting the buttons.

Susan: I’d be like, “You know, you could make a business out of this.”

Tom: Exactly. Exactly. And I have to tell you, your mother is brilliant for turning a jar full of buttons into a game.

Susan: Right.

Tom: Brilliant. So how can our viewers and listeners get in touch with you?

Susan: The best way, and I’ll give them a free ebook, they can download the book. It’s Three Ways to Control Chaos in your Small Business. It does talk about processes; it talks about avoiding interruptions; and it talks about project management. If you’re an overwhelmed business owner, that’s like, “I cannot read a book. Help me now.” There’s also contact information on that page. So you can just click a button if you want to come straight to the source.

Tom: Yes. I actually have clients that tell me, “Stop giving me things to read. Put it on -.” Exactly. Exactly. Well, thank you, and thanks for that offer. That’s very generous. You go out and give a free ebook to our listeners. I think that is awesome. Thank you, Susan, for once again, just a few weeks apart, sharing your wisdom with our audience today.

Susan: Well, I’m glad you know to be here, and hopefully we can make a habit of it.

Tom: I look forward to that. So you can find Susan Fennema at Beyond the Chaos, on LinkedIn, and of course, you can always reach out to me and I’ll be happy to make a warm introduction. However, you can also come to the Business Transition Summit and see her live and see her talk about the things that we talked about here today. This is the Maximized Business Value podcast where we give practical advice to business owners on how to build long-term sustainable value in their businesses. Be sure to tune in each week and subscribe to our channel wherever you found this podcast. That way you’ll never miss another episode. Until next time, I’m Tom Bronson reminding you to go register today. Do it for the Business Transition Summit, so you can learn how to maximize business value.

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