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What is business infrastructure? And why is it important? If you’re interested to learn to develop a stronger infrastructure for your organization, you’re going to want to tune into this week’s episode!
Meet Alicia Butler Pierre. Alicia is the founder and CEO of Equilibria, Inc., a boutique operations management firm specializing in increasing bandwidth for fast-growing small businesses via business infrastructure.
Alicia is an expert in building strong and sustainable business infrastructures. She even leveraged her background in chemical engineering to develop the Kasennu framework for business infrastructure and invent software by the same name.
Alicia is also the host of the ‘Business Infrastructure – Curing Back Office Blues’ podcast and the author of a 2x Amazon bestseller book, ‘Behind the Facade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success.’
According to Alicia, every company should have these three key elements put in place: people, processes, and tools. But what’s also important is that they go hand in hand to produce the best possible results.
In this episode of the Think Business with Tyler podcast, we chat about the importance of business infrastructure, why people and processes go hand in hand, why you shouldn’t rush to blame your employees for occasional mistakes, and how to manage chaos in an organization.
If you want to develop a bulletproof infrastructure, make sure you tune into this episode to learn what Alicia has to say.
💡 Name: Alicia Butler Pierre
💡 What she does: She’s the founder and CEO of Equilibria, Inc.
💡 Noteworthy: Alicia is the host of the ‘Business Infrastructure – Curing Back Office Blues’ podcast and the author of a 2x Amazon bestseller book, ‘Behind the Facade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success.’
💡 Key Quote: “This is what we talk about when we say a process. A process is literally what are the steps that I need to go through in order to produce the same result whether I do the work, Tyler does the work, you do the work, it is roughly going to produce the same output.”
💡 Where to find Alicia: LinkedIn
What is business infrastructure and why do you need it? If you have a business, you need to have a business infrastructure. As simple as that. Every business is prone to mistakes, failure, and chaos. And so is yours. So, if you want to future-proof it and prepare it for potential growth, you need to start by developing strong processes. But aside from processes, the people and tools are just as essential.
Alicia explains, “When we talk about business infrastructure, it’s the people, the processes, and the tools slash technologies that you’re using in your business; Those three key elements, how do you link those together in a system so that your growth is not only repeatable, but it’s also sustainable and profitable?
“Business infrastructure enables you to see where, when you have a change in one of those elements, how does it impact the other two? Nothing is done in isolation. You’re always trying to figure out how a change in one area is going to potentially impact all of the other areas, and that’s why it’s so important to talk about it being linked.”
Processes and people go hand in hand. If you want to create a strong foundation for your business, you should aim to build a team and processes simultaneously. You can’t have people without the processes, and vice versa. As Alicia points out, your employees need to have the knowledge and the tools to deliver a consistent customer experience.
She explains, “I would love it, Tyler, if everybody looked at processes from day one of starting their business, but I know that usually doesn’t happen. But I will say this; processes and people go hand in hand. Why? Because as you start to add to your team, they have to know what to do and how to do it. Otherwise, whether it’s a product that you are making or a service that you are delivering, there will be inconsistency, and your customers are not going to be very forgiving if they consistently have an inconsistent experience with your company. So that’s what processes afford you.”
Blame the process, not the people. One of the biggest mistakes that most business owners and managers make is that they immediately place the blame on their employees once an issue occurs. But sometimes, it’s the lack of processes that might be the reason behind these mistakes. Alicia explains, “I always tell people, ‘Blame the process before you blame the people.’ ‘Well, Alicia, there isn’t a process.’ ‘Well, there you have it.’
“Before you get upset with people, you have to first put yourself in check and ask, did I even document this? I can’t really be mad at Tyler if he didn’t do this a certain way because I technically don’t have this documented anywhere.”
How to manage chaos in your business? Let’s face it, chaos and failure are inevitable parts of every business. The reason why you should have a strong business infrastructure is to prevent and manage the chaos. So, what are the signs that your business is in desperate need of clear processes?
Alicia explains, “A very big one is a dramatic increase in the number of customer complaints. That’s almost always a sign of okay, there’s something chaotic going on in the background. Number two, high employee turnover, or just if you don’t have employees, whoever is helping you, there’s high turnover. Another big one, believe it or not, Tyler, is failed audits. That’s a very big one because there’s so much chaos.”
“When you try to talk to startups about this kind of stuff, processes, and systems, they’re like, ‘Oh God, no, thank you.’ It’s all about marketing and branding and PR and sales, and it makes sense, right? You have to get customers coming to your door. But what happens once you have received a return on your investment in marketing and sales and branding and PR social media, and now you go from not having enough customers to having too many.”
“Let’s say you have a viral moment. You may have had an appearance on a local television show. There’s an ad campaign that you’ve kicked off, and it’s gone really well. Whatever the case is, all of a sudden, you find yourself in a position where you have more business than you can handle. You literally have more demand than you might be able to supply.”
“Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean that I should, so you know what? Maybe it should be an office manager, even though I may not have that office manager position filled; ideally, if I did have access to all the resources I needed, it really should be an office manager performing that task and not me as the CEO. So this is the kind of conversation we start to have. The reason why this exercise Tyler is so powerful is because it’s visualization. It’s tactile, everyone can be in a room, hopefully at the same time. And it’s generating conversations and discussions that you may not have had before.”
“This is going to be the way that you organize your processes; it is going to be the way that you organize your physical workspace, even if you’re just in one room. You still want to organize your workspace into work zones that correspond to these different departments. It’s going to be the way that you organize your digital records. It’s the way that you organize your physical or your paper records, and it gives you a level or baseline for organizing every single operational aspect of your business. Once you know those departments, you know the people. That literally is the foundation for everything else when it comes to creating your company’s business infrastructure.”
“When people know that they’re working and they’re part of something that’s much bigger than themselves and that there’s the opportunity to advance even though it’s a small business, but there’s still that opportunity and that possibility, they tend to stick around.”