Codify What You Do, So Others Can Do What You Do

Blair Enns, a consultant to small agencies gets me to think and to look at things from a different perspective. Therefore, I highly value what Enns has to say about building long term value in my company.

The fact that most firms do not have a meaningful, defined, demonstrable strategy model is the single biggest reason why creative firms do not really scale. Without one, there’s really nothing to scale.

Single-office firms not interested in scaling geographically but still interested in growing have the same challenge, because sustainable scalability in any form is largely reliant on codified expertise. If you have not codified how you do what you do then you don’t really have a growth strategy.

Codify what I do. Catalog my I.P. No problem!

Actually, writing a User’s Guide or Operations Manual has been high on my to-do list for too long now. A few years ago, I went to Woodstock for Capitalism in Omaha, a.k.a. the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting. The one bit of advice doled out by The Oracle that day that really stuck with me: You must have an operations manual that describes in detail how to run your company, or a savvy buyer won’t buy it. Simple as that.

According to The Wall Street Journal, an operations manual essentially is a tool kit for replicating your knowledge of your business and what you do on any given day. Replicating being the key word. You have to be able to replicate the successes you create for clients, which explains why so many agencies go on and on about their patented processes. I’ve always thought it was bullshit, frankly, because every creative challenge and every client situation is unique. But strangely, Enns knows I’m going to say that. He knows how creative people think, and how to overcome their/my objections.

Here he is a few years ago laying out the foundational tenets of his Win Without Pitching manifesto.

So, back to the task at hand. I must identify how we replicate our client successes and show how the way Bonehook works, and how we approach marketing problems is a clear competitive advantage and how it can work again and again. That’s what leads clients to buy — they believe in our ability to replicate past successes.

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