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Transferring your Business Knowledge : Extracting Yourself from Your Business (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series we identified three steps to extracting yourself from your business.

1. Transferring your knowledge into your business through systems and processes
2. Shifting your approach from micro-managing to leading
3. Building accountability and responsibility in the business

In Part 2 we will be looking at how you can complete the first stage, that is, transferring your knowledge from you to the business.

Get your 'intuitive' knowledge out of your head and into the business

Do you remember when you were learning to drive a car? The first time you get behind the wheel you wonder how you're ever going to be able to co-ordinate steering, pressing pedals, changing gears, recalling road rules, avoiding other drivers and coping with the anxiety of the passenger sitting next to you. Eventually your experience builds and these activities become second nature. You no longer have to think about each individual task, instead you let your unconscious mind do the work and you start to operate 'intuitively'.

A person's business capability develops the same way as their driving capability. If you if have an entrepreneurial family the chances are your business education started at a very young age, during discussions over the dinner table or while watching your parents at work. However, rest assured that at some stage you did do that learning. If you've learned it so can someone else. You just need to provide them with the maps to show them how.

Getting On with Getting Out

Your intuitive knowledge is often the 'gold' in your business. It provides the differentiation and quality around what you do. The more 'gold' you are able to get out of your head and into your business' systems and processes:

1. The more the business will be worth as a saleable asset
2. The more the business can thrive without you
3. The more freedom and money you will have

It makes good logical sense to do what you can to make yourself redundant in your business. Yet sometimes letting go is easier said then done. A lot of us have strong emotional ties to our businesses. We have nurtured it from start-up and success has required large doses of bravery and persistence. Therefore it is highly likely some of us may not want to cut the apron strings. Our businesses often provide testament to our skills, our personal uniqueness and our identity. It's often these 'secondary gains' that create the reluctance to getting on with getting out.

If you find yourself hesitating then ask:

1. What is important to you about getting out of your business?
2. What is important to you about not getting out of your business?
3. Write you responses down and compare your answers. Then consider:
4. What is it going to take for you to be ready to start getting out of your business?
5. What does the business need to know to keep going without you?

When you are ready start by doing some research on yourself.

Consider the following questions:

1. What beliefs enable you to do your work?
2. What's important to you about the way you do your work?
3. What environmental factors need to be present? (e.g. tools & resources)
4. What are the physical steps you take to do what you do?
5. What sort of information do you seek?

Usually it takes some time to extract the answers to these questions. Aim to focus on the aspects that are essential to doing what you do. Each person will bring their own flair to the role however, there will be elements essential to having the quality of your work maintained. Make sure these elements are clearly identified and documented. You don't need to communicate absolutely everything you know, just the essential parts.

Build these insights into your systems and processes

Systems and processes make up the skeleton that supports your business. They give structure, form and function to the business and include documented workflows, templates, checklists, job descriptions and performance management tools. Be creative with how you document and communicate your knowledge. Make sure the content is precise and addresses the how, what, when and why.

As with most changes in small business the biggest challenge can often be having the resources to get on with it. That's why it is important to start this exercise as early as possible in your business lifecycle. It's the small steps you take each week that add up over the years and eventually provide you with the liberation you seek.

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