From Generation to Generation: Well oiled machine


Which company has the highest staff turnover? McDonald’s. Despite the high staff turnover, McDonald’s is able to continue operating profitably because it has strong systems and processes.

Building a legacy business requires building a well-oiled machine that is able to operate on its own without the owner.

Your business should not be a prison where you are always in office, working 24/7, unable to take vacation, or sick leave.

If you are sick and your business is sick or if you take a day off and your business takes a day off, then you are a freelancer and not necessarily an entrepreneur.

If you find yourself unable to take time off from your business, you are running a business without systems and processes. You might as well get a job, at least there you get paid annual leave and you don’t have to work 24/7.

Building a legacy business means transcending from a freelancer mentality to a growth orientated business.

A system is a set of processes that can run without you.

As your business grows, you will need to build systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible.

How to build systems and processes:

  • Map out all the tasks you perform daily, weekly and monthly;
  • Perform the task whiles your employee is watching you;
  • Let your employee perform the same task while you are observing her and correcting her when necessary;
  • Let your employee perform the same task in your absence; and
  • Let your employee perform the same task with another employee watching.

Below is an example of mapping a process for making a cup of tea:


Having systems and processes mapped out is one thing, the difficult task for most entrepreneurs is to let go and trust employees to take charge.

Some of the reasons entrepreneurs don’t empower their staff is:

  • The entrepreneur does not trust that the employee will do the job as good as he (the entrepreneur) would do it;
  • The entrepreneur feels that the employee will steal (cash or other resources) from the business; and
  • The entrepreneur feels that the employee will be so good that she will steal customers from the business.

These are some of the reasons why entrepreneurs hardly train and empower their employees because they say: “what if I train and empower them, and they leave.”

The better question should be: “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Built to last legacy businesses grow from generation to generation because they have strong systems and processes and strong teams.

Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. Significance comes when he developed leaders to do great things for him, but legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.” – John C. Maxwell

The more days you can take off away from the business and is able to run without hitting a crisis, is an indication of how strong your systems and processes are.

If you can’t take a day off from your business, it means your systems and systems are not strong.

Strive to build a business that can run without you, that’s what entrepreneurship is about.

You are an entrepreneur if your business can make money while you are on vacation.

2 thoughts on “From Generation to Generation: Well oiled machine

  1. Hi! Ntate Mamabolo. Another inspiring lesson!

    Two questions to help me clarify my efforts.

    1. Isn’t freelancing an entrepreneurial endeavour?
    2. Can my business plan be used as a blueprint for business processes and systems? Or do I still need to detail and document the process separately?

    Once again, thank you for pushing me!

    1. 1. Given the context my article, freelances are those who build business around their lifestyles, they have no intention of scaling their businesses beyond what it is.

      2. Business plan is the blue-print of the business. Building systems and processes goes much deeper than the plan, it talks to detailed and daily processes followed in the business by staff, for example: what is the process when we open the business in the morning, what is the cashing up process when we closing, who banks the cash and when. There are various systems and processes in the financial section (who places an order, how, when etc), the same applies to Marketing, Operations, HR (what is the HR policy, leave policy, disciplinary policy, recruitment process, how do we fire an employee etc). Systems and processes are more detailed than a business plan, the outline the daily activities of the business.

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