Raj shared the secrets of his success recently in an interview with Owen McGab Enaohwo, co-founder of www.SweetProcess.com.
OWEN: The whole goal of this interview is to talk about how you’ve been able to systematize the business so that it runs without you. But before you go to that point, we want to share with the listeners some of the issues you had in the past. What would you say so far was the lowest point in the business and can you describe how bad it got? I think during the pre-interview you mentioned how hiring and training employees was difficult. Let’s talk about that.
RAJ: Yeah, for me, one of the biggest challenges as an IT professional who’s started a business is I’ve built a lot of IT systems early on and I had a vision of what an IT employee or professional should be able to do. What I discovered in the marketplace is that a lot of people looking for work, a lot of people we hired or we interviewed were not at the same skill sets. The skills are varied and they had expectations, I had expectations of their performance and they had expectations of the training we provide for them. And there was a mismatch and it was a really painful process that I’ve been suffering with for about 10 years which had multiple approaches, sending people to school, getting them certifications, hiring people at different salary points from 50k to 150k a year and everything in between. It never ever worked that well.
RAJ: So I looked at it as a data silo problem and said, “This is no different than what our clients face. They’ve got data and email, they’ve got data and share point, they’ve got data and database, they’ve got data on the web. We’ve got these data silos and we need the business to work more effectively. And first the data silo was the knowledge or a client’s IP systems, and processes, and people, and issues that our employees carrying inside their heads.
OWEN: Yes. So what was the first thing that you did to fix this issue? Because during the pre-interview you said the first thing you did was you pulled or interviewed your peers. Can you talk about that?
RAJ: Sure. After I was able to articulate the problem, I’ve got 5 employees in the field. They all know what’s going on. I don’t have a clear picture. And if an employee’s out sick, or quit, is on vacation, it’s hard to back build that position because the client expects us to walk-in knowing what they discussed previously. And I can’t say that I write blank slate everytime new shows up, and I interviewed about 40 of my peers and most of them said they had similar issues and they’re all grappling with it. Three of peers said, “We used to have that problem but we don’t have it anymore.” I said, “Okay, what’s your secret?” They all said they had written processes and procedures. One actually called it written processes and procedures. One actually called it SOP’s, Standard operating procedures. As I dug further into it I recognized that the really successful businesses had SOP’s but they were all static documents that were useless the moment after they were written. A lot of firms had grown by implementing them and then had fallen out of love with him because what had been a really good solution at one point became an albatrosser on their neck 6 months or a year later.
OWEN: I understand. You mentioned that after you’ve spoken to your peers and they told you what to do to solve the problem, can you share this story of how you started implementing the solution by creating the procedure for your marketing assistant?
RAJ: Sure. I travel a lot. In 2013, I spent 62 business days out of the office, speaking at conferences around the world. I’ve spoken at the [Unknown place 00:05:29], D.C., Chicago, I was in an airplane basically every two weeks last year, or so it felt like. Whereas my technology team can do technology support and delivery without me, marketing and sales are my responsibility. I can’t make somebody else do that because marketing is my vision and so far, it’s my key responsibility of the company. I was setting up to a trip and we have to do our monthly newsletter and our weekly e-blasts. I said, “I won’t be in town and I will not be able record it with my assistant to get this thing done in a face-to-face real-time. So I wrote the first SOP out of necessity. It was not some great plan, it wasn’t a great idea, it was just, I put something out there so at minimum you get 90% of the work done without me. I could then check in and fix whatever issues or bugs we might run into afterwards. I wrote two of the first SOP’s for her. One is how to put together our newsletter, and second is how to do our weekly e-blast. Surprise, surprise, I gave it to her, I go away on a trip, I’m expecting things to break, I’m expecting problems to occur. Not a single problem occurs. She was able to handle it by herself and she actually did a better job than I normally did.
OWEN: You mentioned that this is, particularly on the marketing side. You share that story with those in the production side, the text in your company. They kind of struggled with this thing that it is possible, just because it was marketing that’s why it worked. Talk about that.
For the complete interview, please click here or go to