One topic that makes business owners I work with groan is when I ask about how they are documenting their business. As a happy and thriving solo business, why do you need to do it? It will make your business smarter and stronger.
There are three main types of information in your business. They often tangle together.
Type One – hard facts
I consider a hard fact one that is important but just alone not much can be done with it. A key is a hard fact, but without the lock it fits into you can’t do to much with it. I tend to think of these items as the main topic items in an outline of the business. Examples of hard facts include:
- Business information, such as EIN
- List of Products
- Style Guide
Type Two – action facts
Action facts are those that do things. Examples of action facts include:
- Banking Account number
- Product Price List
- Website backup
Type Three – knowledge facts
These are what make your business your business. They’re the details that only you may know and without them there would be no business. These are the types of facts that are the most difficult to get out of your head and into something that you can refer to later. Knowledge facts are sometimes considered trade secrets. I believe they are as important to get out of your head and onto paper (electronic or traditional) as the other two business documentation types.
Examples of knowledge facts include:
- Customer details , e.g. Jane gets a special discount because she was your first customer.
- Hardware quirks, e.g. The copier will always jam if there’s only one sheet in the manual feed tray.
- Job notes, e.g. When migrating a WordPress database double check all indices imported properly.
Why the trio of facts is important.
I wouldn’t ask you to run your business without all three of these different types of facts. Documenting them in a consistent manner now will help you later. I also suggest keeping a hard (non-electronic) copy of the most important facts. What would your most trusted person (friend/family/colleague) need to have access to if you were unavailable for any reason.
Take a few minutes today to outline the hard facts in your business.