It’s hard to believe it’s now over 15 months since I was originally diagnosed with cancer. In a year that included 3 weeks in hospital with a Golden Staph infection and 6 weeks with major liver surgery and recuperation plus an ongoing program of chemotherapy (not to mention a dramatic drop in red wine consumption) the biggest challenge was always going to be how the business would operate with my limited input as CEO.

It turns out that our fears were unfounded as the business’ performance over the first 12 months actually exceeded our expectations. Over this period we achieved:

  • 100% increase in staff numbers
  • 77% increase in average new business per month
  • 25% of our total new business being generated from overseas markets

So how did we do it?

Here are the 4 steps we put in place to ensure the ongoing success of the business over this period:

    1. Adoption of a cloud-based platform

      From Day 1, Zerobooks was set up as an online service to be scalable and able to service a global market. Through Xero we’ve been able to use a global workforce, ensure that our processes are easy to follow and meet our clients requirements efficiently. Over the last 12 months this approach meant that we were able to build on the existing systems with little or no adjustments.

    2. Automation of our marketing and onboarding process

      One of the most automated parts of our business is our marketing, proposal preparation and onboarding processes. We introduced a 3-stage process that has reduced the amount of time we spend on new clients, preparing proposals and onboarding.

      The first stage allows potential partners to book a demo online to set up an appointment, or a ‘gotomeeting’ demo which allows us to discuss the services we offer and the processes we employ. It also provides the first stage in developing the personal relationship.

      The second stage is the ability for the partners to prepare their own proposals online. By answering a few questions regarding their client and submitting the proposal request, our partners can prepare and accept their proposals automatically.

      The third stage is the integration between our website and XPM, which sets up new clients, tasks, pricing, staff allocation and budgeted time for the requested jobs.

      These automated processes means that there is an instant response to our partners request for a proposal without the need for me or one of our team to manually go through the process.

    3. Matching Staff profiles with jobs

      I’m a firm believer in the Finder, Minder and Grinder principles. This isn’t a derogatory reference to different people in the workflow chain but rather a principle in matching people’s personalities with their roles. For example, introverted people are much better suited to the “Grinder” role in focusing on technical and hands-on tasks, but may be outside their comfort zones in dealing with people and marketing activities.

      On the flip side, “Finders” are usually more extroverted, looking for interaction with other people and are better suited to the marketing/PR roles.

      Minders are those in the middle who will manage the client relationships and make sure the work is being done on time and within budget.

      The roles aren’t mutually exclusive, but experience shows that if personalities aren’t matched correctly to their role, then people will either get bored (especially finders) or operate outside their comfort zone, affecting their work performance.

    4. Trusting the process

      The biggest hurdle we see with a number of firms is the ability to let go of the day-to- day running of the business and trusting the systems and processes put in place. By being able to delegate to my heads of departments and trusting the processes we have put in place, the business has been able to operate without my day-to- day involvement.

      The end result has been a business which we had set up from day one to be global and scalable which meant that the processes and structure could cope without relying on a single person. By adopting these practices early on, we have been able to continue to grow the business and survive the adversity of a cancer scare.

      For more on preserving your business, check out our series of cancer proofing blogs starting with Why you need to start ‘cancer-proofing’ your business right now