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Why should small business worry about documenting?

Often small business owners think they don’t need to worry about documenting employee processes or issues.  With only one or a few employees, there isn’t a need for documentation as they can just talk about any concerns, right?  Why should owners/managers waste time and energy on unnecessary documents when they have so many other things that already take up their time?


It’s easy to think that documentation isn’t that important.  With only a handful of employees, there is no need for job descriptions or policies, or reviews, right? Well, that might be a nice thought, but who hasn’t had misunderstandings with one person?  Just because the number is small, it doesn’t mean there is no confusion.  And often the owners/managers spend more time regrouping and clearing up mistakes/problems when clarity from the beginning may have helped.


Job descriptions help owners focus on the true needs for hiring.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed and just want help, but what skills do you need?  What job duties specifically can a new employee take over?  How much time will it take them?  How much will it cost?  Then, when you do bring someone in for an interview, you’ve got specific needs/duties to go over to see if it fits their interest/skills and makes sense to bring them onboard.  You’re much less likely to start with confusion and you’re more likely to hire who/what you need as opposed to focusing on the wrong skills/knowledge.


As far as additional documentation, a lot does depend on the type of work/industry.  If you need to train someone on expectations or software or production or basically anything, wouldn’t it be great to have steps documented so if the person leaves or the company grows, you’re better set for the next individual and not reinventing the wheel.  Plus you’re providing information someone can review as they’re learning as opposed to having to come back to you for any/all questions.


And if there are training/performance issues, documentation can help clarify expectations.  While things may seem clear in the moment, if you end up revisiting the issue in two weeks (or even sometimes in two days), will all parties have the same recollections?  If the conversation was documented and distributed, that can remove the issue of faulty memories.


While it can seem disruptive, documenting expectations and clarifying needs can save time, money and effort.



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