If there was one thing I wish I did when I first started out on this journey it would be making and maintaining a business blueprint. What is a business blueprint I’m sure your asking? Well, a business blueprint is a document or most likely a series of documents that detail how your business is run, your policies, your suppliers, your contacts, details and instructions on how your business is run and the process of how products are made.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I have wasted over the years looking through old invoices for the product code from a supplier of a picture frame I need to order, or grabbing a ruler and measuring an old Matt to see what the size was for the frame I needed to make, or having to look back through old emails for discounts that past customers had received or how I dealt with past instances like if freight had been damaged while in transit. This is just a few that come to mind, but they are all instances that can be addressed and referenced to in a business blueprint.

HOW TO RECORD YOUR BUSINESS BLUE PRINT

Your business blueprint can be done anyway that works for you. Write it down in a notebook, create a word document and save the files into a special folder, use Google Docs and create sections, if you have a more complicated process that you want to record and writing it out would be confusing then you can record a video of how something is done or a process.

ADDITIONAL BENIFITS

Aside from being a total time saver and streamlining your business, having a business blueprints also allows anyone to be able to walk into your business and take over should the need arise due to either illness, you going on a break or even if you decide to sell your business further on down the track. Having access to your business blueprints will make this integration of a new employee or owner quicker. Plus if your selling your business having this information would make your business look a lot more professional and the hand over to the new owner would be quicker and because of the blueprint they already know how your current customer base gets their product made, discounts and treated and your policies and guidelines for conducting business.

The admin section for the products page of my Matt Lauder website

EXAMPLES OF MY BUSINESS BLUEPRINTS

Example 1. – My Matt Lauder website has a very technical backend to update it. I have an area to add blog posts, E-Shop products, Main Gallery Images, Home Page Updates, there are separate areas where I can add and update pricing for my photos, modify the under image fields and descriptions and more. Quite often I would have to search through old emails to find the description from my designer to where it was and how to update it. As you can imagine it was becoming annoying very quickly especially when you just want to do or update something quickly. So using the screen recording software that I have called Screenflow I made a series of videos on common processes for my website like, how to add a new image to the website, how to modify a main gallery image pricing field, how to modify product descriptions, how to finalise a customers order, how to modify a customers order etc.

Whats good about these processes is that my business is on the verge where I need to consider soon employing someone to help out with the backend of my business, order management and customer related tasks and videos like this not only become part of my business blueprint but also a library for employees to know how my business is run and how things are done on the website with limited involvement from me.

Example 2. – The other day I was talking with a family and new born photographer and we were talking about work and they mentioned that recently they had offered $100 family portrait sittings and were having difficulty with one customer who was unhappy with how her child looked in the photo because they didnt smile how she wanted and they had put the blame on her and said she should give them a 50% refund. I said to her that it sounds like they needed to have a basic terms and conditions of the shoot and what your responsible for and what falls outside of what your responsible for and she agreed because how could she be responsible for how a customer’s child smiles.

A lot of the time your policies and terms and conditions are brought about by resolving problems that come up in your business. Now this policy or the document created would sit in her business blueprint section and if she needed to refer to how she handles $100 shoots this would be how it is done. The client would sign an agreement of service etc etc. If she employed a photographer down the track this blueprint would guide them to how these shoots are conducted.

THE TIME TO START IS NOW

Any spare moment I have now I am recording and putting together my business blueprints. Problem is that I have a lot of catching up to do but I am getting there. If you have to ask yourself “I wonder where I got those display boxes from that I bought last year” and you go and track down the supplier, write those details down in a logical document that you know where it is and what’s in it and guess what you have started your business blueprint.