What Small Makers Might Learn from Big Companies and Their Policy & Procedure Manuals

When I worked for a bank we had lots of rules and lots of regulations and lots of manuals.

There was a rule for everything and a certain way that almost everything needed to be done.

Many of these ways and rules were exactly the reasons some of us no longer work for places like banks or dream of no longer working for places like banks

but one positive thing the writers of those policy and procedures manuals did for us was create a system of practices that allowed us

(even with a sign in every office reminding everyone that the customer was always right)

to say no when we needed to.

When we don't have any rules for what we will and will not do, we are more likely to make reactive rather than proactive decisions.

Reactive decisions are made on the fly and often depend on our emotion in the moment or on guilt or wanting approval - proactive decisions are thought out and support the intentions we have for our business.

Proactive decisions allow us to grow in intended ways. They help us set up the systems to spend our time in the best possible ways for us.

For example I get alot of requests for charity donations for auctions and things. Early on I would ask them to fax me a request with the letterhead of the charity and I would send them off some jewelry, but it got to be a little too much and what I really wanted to do with my donations; support the causes I was passionate about - was getting lost. So, I made myself a little policy about dealing with charity requests and I stick to it. I also made a little policy about brussel sprouts and I'm sticking to that one, too.

(this is not to say we can't bend the rules sometimes - except for the brussel sprouts rule because, well, they are really gross - because of course we can, but just not so often that the intention behind our setting it in the first place gets lost)

If you are asked to do something in the moment that you really don't want to do, you don't have to come up with lame excuses or trudge along and do it anyway - well, sometimes we do have to do the things we don't want to do and trudge along and do it anyway, of course, but those things should be the exception- mostly we should be doing the things that support the intentions we have for ourselves.

(you also do not have to answer a request until you are clear on what you want - saying "let me get back to you on that" - is often a good idea and allows you to see how the request fits in with the intention for your business and your life)

Some clear guidelines about what we will and what we will not do might make our small maker lives alot easier.

Sometimes the big companies get something right ... sometimes.


KJ said...

I am working on getting an Etsy store up and running which means developing the policies. I have a policy on payment, returns, etc.... I have always believed that if you put a lot of rules in place people will stretch those rules as far as they can. With that in mind, my final rule is:
I believe my customers are seeking beautiful jewelry and good customer service. I intend to live up to your expectations and my high standards.

Catherine Ivins said...

Good luck with it KJ- your beading is just gorgeous!

I love your final rule - my Etsy shops don't have many/any rules for my customers - I just need a few for me!


Sylvia-Louise said...

Agreed! I worked big retail for years until I ran screaming away from it. But I did learn a lot, and use some of what I learned in my own small business. And life in general.

Catherine Ivins said...

definitely having that kind of experience under your belt is a huge plus - I can't imagine starting a business without it and am always amazed at people who start out on their own from the very beginning and totally do an amazing job - experience married to the fearlessness of the beginner is the real unstoppable force I think ...