Building a Scalable Operating System for your Business

documenting an Operating System

Take the systems and processes out of your head, remove yourself from the business, and build a system that can scale.  


The key to creating a scalable business is a strong operating system.

If you've ever wondered why your team is seemingly unable to produce consistent results, often it's not for lack of trying but rather a lack of structure. Startups don't come with a playbook. It takes time to develop your business and define systems and processes that work. But whether you have a team of 10 or 100, starting to document your procedures and define how your company operates will help you build a more effective, sustainable business.

What is an Operating System

An operating system is how a company runs the business. It's a framework for how the business plans, executes and communicates to keep the business operating at peak performance.

Having systems and processes in place ensures everyone is working and communicating in the same way. It helps rapidly growing teams know what to expect and how they will be measured and creates alignment across the entire organization.

Building an operating system increases efficiency and productivity and adds value to your business. It transcended the founders, owners, and leadership team to create a self-managing business that can operate without you. A business operating system enables you to break through the ceiling, scale to the next level and attract the interest of professional investors.

In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, we've found that documentation is the first step in developing a solid business operating system.  In this post, we will share how to begin the documentation process and train your team so that your entire organization is speaking the same language.


Documentation is an Asset 

The first step in creating a repeatable system is to document the process. Without documentation, your systems are merely ideas on how things run in your business. Documentation ensures that not only are tasks completed, but they follow a specific formula for consistent results. 

Having an operating system allows the business to keep running no matter what variables are thrown at them. Think about your business right now; you likely have many processes you and your team use every day. But if those procedures live in your head, it can become difficult to delegate or get consistent results. Meaning, the value of your business is heavily dependent on you.

Documentation is an asset to your business. It creates a roadmap that anyone can follow to complete a task and deliver consistent results. This becomes vital as your business scales. If you don't have documentation, your business has a lower value. People don't want to buy a business without a solid operating system because the leader holds most of the value. 

The good news is that documentation doesn't have to be expensive to start. You can start small. The goal is to get it out of your head and onto paper. This 3 step process will help you start mapping out your operating system.


  1. List out 1 to 3 processes.
    Start by listing out 3 processes you would like to document. Give it a name and outline the purpose.

    Recruiting Process: to establish how to attract, screen, interview, and hire quality candidates.

  2. Map out the steps
    Take the processes from step one and list out the steps associated with that process. 

    Recruiting Process: 1) write a job description, 2) post the job, 3) Screen candidates, 4) Interview candidates 5) Onboarding paperwork.

  3. Strategize your documentation options 
    List out your realistic options and deadline for documenting your process. In this stage, you will want to think through how to present the information, whether written, filmed, audio examples, powerpoints, etc.

Documentation can be any material used to describe or explain the standard operating procedure. It can be as simple as a flowchart or a Google Doc, or more complex like a training deck or an LMS. In the next section, we'll go into more detail about how to build your documentation.

Implementation Process

The implementation of your documentation and training is going to shift with the size of your business.

In this video, Will MacMillan, SVP of Tech & Community for Cultivate Advisors, outlines how to build out your implementation plan based on your business stage.


As Will says, the implementation of your training is not a straight line. Your systems are not set in stone. Having a solid operating system is essential to building and scaling a sustainable business. But as your business grows and evolves, so will your operating system.

Slowing down to map out your process is the first step in getting the systems and processes out of your head, remove yourself from the business, and build a system that can scale.  

Follow these steps to start mapping out your systems. If you're not sure where to start, you don't have to go at it alone. We've partnered with thousands of small business owners to build custom systems and gain the skills and confidence to take their business to the next level. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.


3 - Visionary (2)-1Unlock the Secrets to Business Growth

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in your business, wondering what step to take next, this webinar was built for you.

As you make your plans, this webinar will show you what you should be focusing on based on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey. Join our webinar to learn the specific steps you can take right now to move the needle in your business.

Join the Webinar