More than a decade ago, when I was hard at work creating my first successful business, my then-partner and I decided to build our company so that it could be independent of both of us.
We laid out our dream on an oversize sheet of white poster paper, calling it our “Business System.” When we started to abbreviate that two-word phrase we ran into a little trouble, so we quickly added the word “Ultimate,” forming the acronym “UBS.”
Our UBS was the collection of processes, procedures, checklists, key information spreadsheets, and more that drove our business. In fact, UBS became both a noun and a verb at our company. It was a noun when we used it to say things like, “Great idea to lower costs, Paige. Can you please add that to the UBS so that other team members can use it?” It became a verb when we used it to say things like, “Beth, can you please UBS that process so we don’t have the same problems next time?”
Really UBSing became a discipline, and it’s one I urge you to adopt for your company. It’s a philosophy of capturing winning processes and best practices and using them to form:
- How-to procedures
- “Common Question and Answer” pages
- Software workflow solutions
Which brings us to the key question: How will you organize, store, update, and access your UBS?
Your UBS needs the following four characteristics:
- Accessible: It needs to be easily accessible. Usually this means it’s accessible online, but you could have a paper-based system too.
- Searchable: People have to be able to quickly find what they’re looking for. Otherwise they’ll start keeping a cheat sheet on their desk or computer, and this will eventually mean your UBS won’t have the best practices, but will instead merely be a procedural manual that no one uses.
- Version Control: It must be collaborative. All users need to be able to edit and improve it. This requires some means of version control. This also means that it continually needs to be pruned of outdated information and systems. In many ways the eraser is more important than the pen when it comes to your UBS.
- Security: It needs to have secure features that allow you to protect your intellectual property. Your UBS will become one of your business’s most valuable assets in time.
In essence, your UBS is the system for how you create, store, refine, and access all (or most) of your systems.
Large companies invest millions of dollars in their networking and technology solutions to manage their companies’ unique knowledge. They also spend megadollars on proprietary software to manage their business processes. But for lots of business owners, that just isn’t an option. Think of your UBS as a cost-effective alternative.
David Finkel is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and courses, including The Maui Millionaires for Business. He is a successful business owner who has bought, built, and sold several multimillion companies over the past 10 years. To learn more about his tools for business owners, visit him on the Web at Maui Millionaires.