The word infrastructure draws up images of large government projects, often involving construction and other types of development.
Webster’s dictionary defines infrastructure in 3 ways.
1: the system of public works of a country, state, or region also: the resources (such as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity
2: the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)
3: the permanent installations required for military purposes
The third meaning has held the most significance to me. For several years, my motto has been, “Infrastructure is everything.”
I don’t remember exactly when I decided this or what was the precursor. However, I realized that whatever you do in life, before you start doing it, you have to lay down a solid foundation for how it is going to work.
This became particularly important when I started my business. Every time I started a task, I would not only be thinking about the task at hand but the process behind it, and what it would be like when I had to train somebody else to do it.
I never wanted to hand anyone a mess, but instead a manageable, understandable technique that they could follow and reproduce successfully. It had to be simple and doable for anyone who had to jump into the role.
After years of doing this with one-off freelancers, I recently had to lay down the infrastructure for a project involving an entire team. This is the hardest work I’ve ever had to do in my life.
It meant moving from training a few people to help me with my side gig to establishing an operational system that would affect several stakeholders. So, why is operational infrastructure so difficult? It may be because it means you’re beginning to treat your business like a real business. It means you’re ready to account for every last detail of your operations, your project management, and your execution strategy. Treating your small business like a real company is hard work.
It’s so hard that it is very tempting to keep flying by the seat of your pants and not do it all together.
Are you a small business owner ready to hire your first co-located team or remote team? Here are a few items to help you to lay down the infrastructure of your operations.
1) A detailed month by month budget
2) The creation of an employee manual
3) Establishing ahead of time what the company’s culture should look like and not allowing culture to happen by accident
4) Setting up an accounting system with all of the ledgers and accounts relevant to your business
5) Filling in Skill Gaps in week areas like bookkeeping and choosing a system for when future employees need to fill in their skill gaps (i.e., Udemy.com, Goskills, Lynda.com or other external learning portals)
6) Setting up an HR and Payroll system which can handle the following
- Timesheets and Time Tracking
- Performance Reviews
- Org Chart
- Time off Requests
7) Process Maps and training setup for the onboarding period
8) Software and equipment procurement
9) Project Management system procurement and set up
10) Team Communication and Collaboration procurement and setup.
Items 9 and ten took the longest. The way your team communicates with each other, especially when your team is remote, is critical.
When you’re ready to hire a team, please don’t bring them into a mess. Bring your new team members into a professional, well thought out organizational structure.
It will dramatically affect your operations’ speed, team dynamics, and the success of your organization.
Remember. When building a team and venturing into treating your side hustle like a real business, “Infrastructure is everything.”
By Carol Barrett
August 27th, 2020