Write the roles before you need them

I was reading through the hundred dollar business yesterday, and I spotted an interesting bit of advice on starting a business and organizational roles.

It caught my attention because employee roles were one of the big issues we struggled with during my ~5 months at PA, and I am always eager to avoid hitting the same problem a second time. So: Rob Merrill said

At the earliest stages, while you’re still fresh in the “entrepreneurial seizure“, you need to determine what the mandatory roles in the business are. In a startup, of course, there is no room for bureaucracy or drag of any kind. 100% of the resources need to be maxed to 100% or more. Vanity is death, though entrepreneurs by nature are often susceptible to vanity of some-kind or another. Beware! However, you need to reach out into the future to predict how the different “legs” of the organization are going to grow.

Take each group or functional area of the company and work on each “leg” planning out the infrastructure. Physically DRAW these out on an organizational chart.

For now, you (yourself) may occupy all or many of the roles in the org-chart. No problem. What’s important is that you know what’s next in line and, while you’re doing the shipping clerk’s job, you’ll be working hard to be sure that, when you do hire a clerk, you will have a system in place to ensure that you don’t spend all your time training them–and that the level of service you expect will still be achieved.

I’m going to try this as a planning exercise for Yog’s Notebook. It’s still a (very) open question if and how much the zine will grow, but as I’ve been looking at the possibilities, I’ve become more concerned with making sure I don’t write myself into a corner. I want to make sure it can succeed at whatever size turns out to fit best.

One response to “Write the roles before you need them

  1. Robert Merrill

    Good luck with that project. Let me know how it goes!

    It’s immeasurably valuable to have thought this through so you don’t make knee-jerk reactions when expanding your business.

    If you like all of this, I strongly recommend you read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber… That’s where I learned it🙂