Momentum Podcast: 629
Policies Will Save You
by Alex Charfen
When I first started in business, I made a ton of mistakes around policies. The biggest mistake I made, is that we really didn't have any. Anything that came up, I had to handle it and I thought it should be this way. I wanted to know what was happening so if there was an issue my team brought it to me. This resulted in endless decision making and massive decision making fatigue. Some days I was so exhausted I couldn't decide what I wanted for dinner. Can you relate?
There are a lot of ways to offload decision making and get help. One of the most efficient and effective is to create policies in your company that allow your team to know how they should make decisions.
If you don't have policies, it will cause a ton of challenges in your business. Your clients will not have a consistent experience. You will handle the same issue in different ways and that will cause incongruency. If too many issues come up at once and each one of them has to be decided, it will sell your business down and take away your momentum.
Creating sound policies is one of the fastest ways to increase the pace that your business grows.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast.
One of the most vulnerable places for an entrepreneur to be is to admit that they've made a mistake. Most of the time, anything that comes up, they want to handle the decision. They want to know what's happening and they want their team to bring them all the issues so that nobody outside can see that something went wrong. This results in endless decision-making and massive decision-making fatigue for entrepreneurs. The good news is that there's a lot of ways to offload decision-making and get help.
In this episode of the Momentum podcast, Alex is going to take you through one of the most efficient and effective ways, which is to create policies in your business. This episode is going to be an absolute game-changer for you and your business. I hope you enjoy it.
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game-changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.
While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be. You know, one of the biggest challenges that I have with a lot of events and masterminds and places where you see people on stage is that the people have no issues. There's no challenges. They don't share where they went wrong and they don't share where they had the biggest challenges in business.
In my experience, when an older, wiser, more experienced entrepreneur has been willing to say, "Hey, here's where I screwed up," that has been some of the most valuable coaching and input for me. And I've screwed up a lot. I've actually had a lot of issues in business because I've been in business for a long time, and as I've figured them out, I put systems and process and structure and routine in place to fix those issues. And one of the issues that I had in my early business was with policies. And let me share the story of me and my early business. So when I was younger, in my early 20s, I ran a pretty large organization. We had about 50 people. We worked with huge computer and consumer electronics businesses. We were a consultancy. I had about, at one point, 14 offices in the US and Latin America.
And in that business, it was my early entrepreneurial business, and here's what I wanted in that business. I wanted freedom. I wanted to do it my way. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to be the boss. And as a result, I didn't really understand that what I needed to have was policies in place. What I needed to have was rules and structure and guidelines for the team that I had so that they could make decisions.
And without me knowing it, here's what happened. Because I didn't have clear policies and core values and guidelines in place, my team always came to me for every decision and I lived in a state of decision making fatigue. I didn't know it then, I just thought I was exhausted from working hard and being an entrepreneur. I thought that I was putting up with, or tolerating what I needed to in order to have a successful business and a successful company. I thought that the endless streams of emails and phone calls and, "Got a minute?" and meetings were all because I was being successful and I was running a business and this is what I had to sacrifice. This is what I had to put up with. This is what I had to deal with.
And today, I can't believe I felt that way. Because when you go from having no policies to starting to put policies in place, you stop decision-making in the moment you give your team the tools that they need to make decisions to move the business forward without you, and you don't need to be constantly interrupted and constantly have people come to you.
Now, if you're wondering what I mean by policies, I'm going to give you a simple one. Like in our business, we have a wellness day policy. Every quarter, we give our team five wellness days. That means that they can take off five days for any reason. It's a total of four weeks vacation a year. So we give our team a full month every year and we have a policy around wellness days. We don't have sick days because I'm not going to manifest or encourage you to get sick to get time off, we have wellness days. You can use them for whatever you want. That policy has been built over time over suggestions, over understanding what we really wanted out of the business.
So that's just one. We have another simple policy. Like Cadey and I have a hard and fast rule that if we've lost money in any month... Not every business is profitable every month. Cadey and I run different businesses, and if we have a business that has lost money in any given month, there is a 90 day moratorium on pay raises. We do not give raises in businesses that are losing money. We're super transparent. And so, if there's a business that's challenged, the team does not get raises until we've had a full quarter of profitability.
Those two policies seem simple, but they have been built over time and they help us, they protect us, they support us. So as a business owner, you should be thinking about what policies you want to put in place in your business.
So there's really three ways that I know how to create policies, and I'll share them with you with an example. So number one is what challenges are you having in your company? What issues are you having in your company? So when I first started out in business, I have always had a nondiscrimination, anti-discrimination policy. Like you can't discriminate. If there is somebody on our team, we respect everybody on our team. We support everybody on our team. They're all here for a reason. And if anyone is made to feel less than for who they are or how they look or who they choose to be in a relationship with, or their gender expression, any of those things, as long as they're a human being contributing to our team, we accept them, we support them and we create equity and inclusion. That is a policy that we built over time.
Now, what we didn't realize was that we needed a little bit more to that policy. See, anti-discrimination is one part of it. We actually had some issues with people not saying anything to the person who was being discriminated against, but talking about them behind their back. So probably about 10 years ago, Cadey and I put in place our no gossip policy, and here's the no gossip policy. Every person who joins our team, we tell them we have 100% no gossip policy, and there is zero tolerance. You might get one chance, but there is no tolerance for gossip.
And here's what we mean by that. Gossip is talking to anyone about a problem in our company who can't help you create a solution, who isn't in a place to create a solution. So that means if there's a problem, you push it up. You push it up to leadership, you push it up to your manager. And if you're not getting any attention there, you push it up to me or to my wife, Cadey. You make sure we know about it rather than have the discussion on our team.
Because when there's two people, say, in a member services department or a sales department and there's an issue that they're talking about together, or one's talking about it to the other one, they're draining energy. There's nothing they're going to do to solve it. They don't have the authority to solve it, and it just becomes gossip. Now that's issues in the business. When it comes to gossiping about a team member or another person, that's where our zero tolerance policy comes in. See, non-discrimination was one part of it, but if we want to create true emotional security and safety for our team, we had to include our no gossip policy. So that's where our challenge comes up.
Discomfort is another place that you should create policies. If you feel uncomfortable with something as a business owner, create a policy. Here's what Cadey and I found. We're uncomfortable when our businesses aren't making money. If we see red in a single month, even if it's minor, it makes us uncomfortable and we want to do everything we can to get that business back to profitability, and we mandate that it becomes profitable. A business only has one role in your life, to make you wealthy. It might be fulfilling, it might be the impact you make in the world, all of those things, but the primary role is to make you wealthy.
businesses to do that. When we didn't have that no raises policy in place, when people would come to us and say, "Hey, can I have a raise?" two months after we had lost money, we couldn't say hard and fast, "Hey, we don't do this.| Today, we don't do this, and our entire team knows it, so they won't even ask. And, if we ever have a red month, the entire team is working to make sure we don't have another one so that this policy is no longer invoked.
And then, a third place where you can look for policies to create is when you have an issue or a challenge. We have a ton of policies for how we handle things in our business. When there's a member services issue, we have return policies. We have policies for when somebody is frustrated with our program. We have policies for how we handle just about everything, up to and including if there's an issue at one of our events.
So our entire team knows that if there's an issue with one of our events where a member is made to feel uncomfortable or less than or slighted or discriminated against for any reason, our team comes directly to us. It doesn't matter if I'm speaking at the event. It doesn't matter if there is something going on. It doesn't matter what's happening, but we have a policy that if a member has an issue, a challenge, some discomfort for them personally, that they come to either me or Cadey.
And that recently happened at an event. We had somebody make an uncomfortable comment in a chat on a virtual event. Our team saw it. I was actually speaking, so they went to Cadey who was available, and she immediately went and took care of it, had a discussion, open discussion with the group about the comment and why it was uncomfortable and why it's not acceptable to us, and it was our policy that put us into that discussion.
And so here's the issue with being an entrepreneur. When we put policies and structures and rules and routine in place, it feels like we're giving up freedom. Because for us, as entrepreneurs, we don't really like policies, structures or rules, we like to break all those things. But when we can flip the coin on that and realize that when we put policies, structures, routine in place in our business, it actually creates the freedom we want. When your team has policies in place, they don't need to bother you for every decision. When your team has policies in place, they will be empowered to take care of what needs to be taken care of. And when there is a challenge or discomfort or issues in your business and you create a new policy, you won't have to deal with it again.
Even though having no policies feels like freedom, when you put them in place, your business will grow like crazy. If you're ready to get some help on growing your business, go to predictablebusinesssolutions.com, answer a few questions from my team, sign up for a call with us, and let us show you how we can help you. Get on a strategy session with us and here's what we'll do. We will go through where your business is at, where you want it to go, help you understand the roadblocks that are in place and help you create a plan to move forward. Whether you pursue that plan with us or with somebody else, that's okay. We're consultants and we would love to help you. So go to predictablebusinesssolutions.com. We can't wait to see you there.