We talk a lot about documentation here at DBM headquarters. We have checklists and worksheets and standard operating procedures and blog posting guidelines and style guides and…well, you get the idea.

Around here the rule is: if you do it, document it.

That’s something I learned in my years on the quality control and systems management team for an automotive manufacturer. We had instructions for everything from how to order coffee filters to how to hold the annual executive board meeting. No task was too small or too large to be documented.

But among those thousands of procedures and instructions (yes, literally), one was clearly the single most important document in the company, and it’s the one most small business owners do not have.

Your Company Organization Chart

You’ve seen them. The hierarchal chart with the CEO at the top and branches connecting him or her to other team members such as the operations manager, the project manager, the quality manager and the marketing director. Every company has one. It’s a required part of any official business plan or procedures manual.

Why is this simple document so important? Because without it, the lines become blurred. Responsibilities are unclear. Decision making is left to those who aren’t qualified—or to no one at all.

And when assignments and responsibilities are fuzzy, things begin to slip. Deadlines are missed. Quality suffers. Your business does not grow.

So why do solopreneurs avoid creating a company organization chart? Maybe because it feels pointless to fill in all those roles with your own name. Maybe you know you’re responsible for everything, so you don’t need a reminder. After all, who needs an org chart to prove to the world that you are, in fact, the chief cook and bottle washer?

Define Your Roles

Even if you truly are handling everything from accounting to product creation to server maintenance, it’s important to visualize your various roles through the use of an organization chart. By documenting your roles and responsibilities on paper, you will more easily see where you should be spending your time—or where you’re spending too much.

The most common roles that online entrepreneurs take on include:

  • Product development
  • Website management
  • Shopping cart maintenance
  • Customer service
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Technical troubleshooting

And while bootstrapping a new business venture and working 16-hour days to get off the ground and (finally) turn a profit is common—and maybe even expected—it’s not where you want to stay. Keep that pace up, and you’ll burn out fast. I know. I’ve been there.

So think about which of those roles you can and should be handing off to others, because trying to do it all alone can cause more trouble than you might think.

Ever stressed out over a customer complaint? Wasted half a day trying to change the header image on your website? Spent $177 on a Facebook ad that resulted in two opt-ins and no sales?

If you genuinely love customer service, and php code makes your heart sing, then keep it up. But if what you really want to be doing is connecting with your audience and growing your business, it’s time to step back and fill some of the roles on your org chart with other, more qualified team members.

Where to Begin Developing Your Org Chart

For most of us, building an entire team takes time. You’re not going to immediately hire a bookkeeper, social media manager, customer service rep, project manager and virtual assistant. You’d go broke in a hurry if you did that.

Savvy, successful online biz owners follow one of two paths:

1. Start small. Hire people as you need them, and begin with the tasks you don’t like to do, cannot do, or which don’t make money.

2. Hire a team. If you’re not into managing people (and a lot of us aren’t) then you’re best option is to hire an existing team that can take on all of the work you’d like to have off your plate. The advantage with this method is that the costs are often lower, since you are paying a single invoice rather than several. Not only that, but you don’t have to spend your time overseeing a staff.

So take a look at your org chart. See where you fit in, and be honest with yourself about where you don’t. Then make a plan to add some other names to those roles you want to get off your plate. Doing so will free up more of your time to build your business.

If you struggle to hire and manage a team, or you’re really not sure what to do first, contact me. I’ll be happy to discuss your business needs and work with you to create a plan that will allow you to be the CEO again. After all, isn’t that what you wanted when you ventured into the business arena?