Here is today’s date and I’m up and writing again.
I do hope I can keep this up for a damn long time because I’m enjoying (read loving) being able to write every morning as the first thing I do.
I’m yet to determine how much my business is loving this new process/routine that I’ve added to my day – so that made me realise it’s perhaps worth sharing with you my what is actually going on inside my business and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
So ultimately at a bird’s eye level – I conducted a business process analysis to try and determine where there are holes in my business.
The ultimate endgame of going through everything that pertains to Pearl Lemon initially is to try and understand what is stopping the business from running itself.
Pearl Lemon running itself is quite an ambitious goal, but through this process, we’ll go through together right now – I’m hopeful it’ll make the beginnings of a template/model you can follow as you look at your own business.
Breaking Down The Pearl Lemon Sections
At the moment Pearl Lemon is reliant upon Upwork and Inbound SEO to generate leads.
Upwork, however, is based around me – which is a big weakness of the business.
So already we know when looking at this part of the business that we need a consistently converting sales channel that will drive results that isn’t dependent upon the fluctuating traffic of SEO.
Better yet, when considering this as a process – how about this –
If we got banned on Upwork and ‘Google slapped’…where would the business be?
What DIRECT sales channels can we build that will continuously bring leads?
Well – this is what I’m TRYING to build now:
- PPC campaign, followed up by retargeting campaign (pending)
- Sending out 100 cold emails a day to generate leads (due to launch)
- Hiring a full-time dedicated outbound sales guy? (still scared of doing this)
- Setting up 2 ongoing LinkedIn>Email Follow Up campaigns (yet to launch this)
So….looking at my processes – I can spot a monumental weakness here – none of these campaigns is actually live and active – so a bunch of time needs to be dedicated to these to truly bring scaled growth to the business.
Inbound is too inconsistent to get the scaled growth Pearl Lemon would need to succeed.
Furthermore, Upwork is directly reliant upon me which is very damaging for us.
There were multiple outbound campaigns we used to successfully run, but as SEO and Upwork have been such solid converting channels than they have fallen away.
Now it’s time to resurrect them again.
Operations – SEO/PPC
This part of the business is related to delivery. Are we delivering consistently solid results for our clients?
On the SEO side of the business, we have a stalwart in the form of Semil.
He manages everything end-to-end.
Just writing this down though makes me veer towards our weaknesses.
I’m not 100% confident upon every element of the SEO delivery process because Semil is in charge of it all.
Whilst I know a fair amount of it – I don’t believe I have a mindmap that runs through all of the deliverables and has a 100% understanding of each specific part of the business.
This is aside from the delivery of results – which actually are generally quite good.
There is always room for improvement with this side of the company – but this also falls into a problem with the inbound process of lead generation.
We don’t have control over those people who approach us so it means that we need to just deal with the leads and deals that come in – and in terms of building expert operations – it’s CERTAINLY not the case that we’re doing work on the same type of projects…well every time.
So ironically – outbound sales and focussing upon a particular kind of client is also what’s stopping us from achieving operational excellence.
So what are the key actions I need to implement within the SEO operational side of the business:
- I need an entire map of the overall SEO process written up somewhere
- Once that’s written out I need to identify specific areas where my knowledge is weak and get those holes plugged so I can improve the documentation
- I need to discuss with Semil the mapping out of this whole process and considering giving him a % of the business?
As you can see – this is a management process I’m undergoing to identify core weaknesses within the business that are preventing us from scaling and being more operationally robust.
By starting to map out the entire processes within a business (and really I’m just writing them out) – you begin to quickly identify the many weaknesses within the business!
Operations – Lead Generation
This is a business that is far newer than the SEO side of the operations, but its part of the business I have built out from scratch – so in some ways – I know it better than the other side of it.
It’s new, it’s turbulent but it’s also fast growing.
The operations actually aren’t that far away from being relatively robust in terms of there being solid core processes in place.
The documentation exists, but it needs an entire upgrade – which didn’t happen because the processes were still in a decent amount of flux.
Now we’ve got two solid new team members on board – I’m sure that this side of the business will begin to stabilise and we can have a lot more strength in this side of the business.
‘How can you make it run without yourself though Deepak?’
To directly answer this question here’s what I think is needed:
- Rebuilding the training so that anyone could step in and start running the operations to a degree
- Identifying the core team (I think we have them now) and investing in them
They are really the two main things
As you can see – this is something of a management process I’m undergoing with you alongside me in my bid to try and have solid business processes that don’t involve myself at all
No small challenge with a complex agency business with lots of moving parts.
Client Relationship Management
This is the area where I still have almost total involvement and is a big weakness of the business.
Much of the work granted, is done on email by Semil and email and WhatsApp by Prishani – but whilst I write this there are already in my mind forming several solutions that I think could work towards solving the current problems:
- Naturally, as the founder, I have the most knowledge about the SEO and Lead Generation sides of the business overall and also client relationship management
I need to document a client relationship handling guide that will enable anyone to come in and step into my shoes from:
- All of the key engagement points with clients (onboarding/occasional check-ins)
- What mediums we use with clients (WhatsApp, screencasts, emails, whereby)
- Knowledge of SEO + Lead Generation anyone needs coming into this role
- Scenario planning (i.e ‘if-this-then-that’ type responses for all situations)
- How the role adapts when it’s someone with less knowledge than I is communicating with clients
- Time’s for check-ins, general availability to respond, do follow-ups
An Overall Analysis Of Our Business Processes
I’m sure if I spent more time mapping out the processes in their minutiae I would identify further areas for development.
However, just the act of writing all of this down and looking at core weaknesses within the business (which fluctuates from 60-85k per month) – demonstrates there are lots of things worth working upon.
This is without looking at any of the costs of the business, or understanding the workflow of how all of these parts work together (I mean I just realised how much NOT niching is harming the operational side of our business).
The Formal Approach To Conducting A Business Process Analysis:
I guess this is worth touching upon because if you gave this sh*t a google you would see that there are seemingly four steps; a kind of process you can follow when conducting such an analysis:
STEP 1 – Process Identification
This is where you identify the actual process e.g
Prospect is messaged via Upwork>call is booked>call generates a proposal/audit of some kind>prospect signs a deal>prospect is onboarded etc etc
I’m just realising I haven’t mapped out this at all for you (sorry!) – but it is an integral part of putting this all together
Once you’ve got the process all laid out it’s…
STEP 2 – Collecting Process Information
As I demonstrated on the SEO side – that’s something that I don’t have 100%. But equally, on the client relationship management side, it’s also something I need to produce
This way once you’ve got all of the information put together you can:
STEP 3 – Analyze As-Is Process
This is similar to what was happening above (I jumped straight here lol) because I know what’s happening within my business, but once you have parts 1 & 2 you can analyse it in MUCH more detail to work out bottlenecks, issues and the like.
STEP 4 – Develop The ‘To Be’ Plan
I think this part speaks for itself. What can you improve and what timeline can you attach to it with KPI’s so you can start moving the business forward on this journey.
For example – although I’m aware of many of our issues – writing them up like this has given me even greater insight into what needs to be done
Frameworks To Analyse Your Business
If you’re not the business owner (heck even if you are) – there are models you can use to start looking at each of these areas that are worth knowing about (like I wish I knew) before you start a journey like this which are as follows:
This is a case of figuring out what pieces of information you’re missing about the business (like I am with my head of SEO) and then getting them filled in
Are there processes you have in place which don’t actually help the business? I’ve done that several times with the Lead Generation side of the business. You build in lots of stuff and then find out clients don’t give a sh*t. This probably happens on all sides of the business in truth!
Root Cause Analysis
This is about finding the main cause of a problem. Naturally, if you’re anything like me you’ll say ‘well I’m the ultimate root cause’ – which is powerful in a way as then you work to build systems to replace yourself.
As with any process – it’s worth watching to see what happens when these processes run – how do they work in practice? Do they work as intended? (Probably not lol)
This is when you get insights into people heavily involved in the business. This would be my head of SEO, Sales, Lead Generation, HR and the like!
Well, my head is spinning but I hope this has been as powerful a read as it has been analyzed for me.
I’ve identified some major things that need to be worked upon in order to scale Pearl Lemon.
If I don’t start battling away at all of those key areas, having this business run entirely without me is never going to happen.
And well, my 2021 plan is to step out of day-to-day runnings of Pearl Lemon – so I’d wager I’ve got a ton of work still to do before I even get close to making it happen.
With that being said – I better get into it!