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How to Create an Org Chart for Your Small Team

There are a lot of things in life that we know we should do, things that might even make our lives easier, but we don’t actually do them. We should floss every day. We should balance our checkbooks (are checkbooks still a thing?). We should organize the garage. We should prep all of our meals on Sundays so we don’t end up eating cereal and hot dogs for dinner all week. 

As a creative business owner, you probably haven’t bothered to make an org chart for your team. That doesn’t mean you don’t think it would be nice to have, or even helpful. It just isn’t a priority. And, if you’re being honest, you don’t really see the point. 

I would argue that an org chart is a game-changing tool to help you address important challenges in your business.

Take Your Life Back

Your business exists outside of you, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Looking at your business sketched out from the top down on a piece of paper helps you to see it as its own distinct entity. Separating you from your business is the first step on the path to long-term sustainability.

Bring Systems to the Chaos

Whether you realize it or not, your business is made up of lots of processes that enable you to deliver value to your customers. Defining and refining (and maybe even automating!) these processes is critical for your business’s longevity and your personal sanity. 

Michael Gerber calls your core, unique systems your franchise prototype. In other words, are the processes that make up your business model so well-defined that you could sell them to someone else to replicate? If no, an org chart can be a good place to start. It helps you see with greater clarity the core functions of your business so that you can make sure each one has rock-solid processes in place.

Know Who to Hire

If you needed to put together a basketball team, you would more or less know what to do. You would know the positions that you needed on the team to be successful at that game. 

Many of you know that you need to hire and expand your team, but you don’t know what game you are playing. You haven’t defined your business well enough to know where you need help. An org chart can help you define the team that will make your business succeed.

Here are five simple steps to help you create your own org chart, even if you are a team of just one.

This process is modified and adapted from Traction by Gino Wickman. The term “Integrator” was coined by him.

Step 1: Forget About the People

The biggest temptation when creating your org chart is getting too attached to your current team members in their current roles. For now, we are going to consider only the functions of your business and forget for a moment about the people that are performing those functions right now.

Step 2: Draw Your Boxes

Next, you will draw boxes representing the major functions of your business. Thankfully, there’s no need for creativity here because every business does basically the same things.

  • Operations - Creating your product/service and delivering it to customers.
  • Marketing/Sales - Creating awareness and demand for your product or service and ultimately selling it to customers.
  • Finance/Admin - Managing the money and the basic systems that support operations and marketing/sales.
  • Integrator - Making sure that every function is working together to achieve the shared goals. Whether you call this person CEO/COO, President, or Executive Director, Guru, or the Queen, the function is the same.
No matter what your business is or how many people you have on your team already, your initial org chart should look like this. 

No matter what your business is or how many people you have on your team already, your initial org chart should look like this. 

Step 3: Fill Your Boxes

Next, you will fill each box with your business’s activities in each category. Don’t just think about what you have done in the past but also consider you will need to do in the next six to 12 months to stay on track for your goals.

Fill in everything your business does in each of these boxes. As an example, the boxes for my one-person consulting business look like this.

Fill in everything your business does in each of these boxes. As an example, the boxes for my one-person consulting business look like this.

Step 4: Divide the Boxes

Next, we want to make sure that the most important functions of your business are on the “front lines” of your org chart. In other words you should divide any of your boxes so that all of the truly core functions of your business have their own box. You will likely have between three and five boxes, but try not to have more than seven.

Here is how I divided my boxes to make sure that the core functions of my business are on the front lines of my org chart. Some of you may want to separate marketing from sales. Others may have different boxes for different types of business operations, like I do. If systems are really important for your business model, or if you have a really robust HR operation, you might need multiple boxes for Finance/Admin.

Here is how I divided my boxes to make sure that the core functions of my business are on the front lines of my org chart. Some of you may want to separate marketing from sales. Others may have different boxes for different types of business operations, like I do. If systems are really important for your business model, or if you have a really robust HR operation, you might need multiple boxes for Finance/Admin.

Step 5: Fill in Some Names

Remember all of those people we forgot about? It’s time to fill in some names for each box. You should designate one person who is accountable for the performance and results of each box.

On small teams, each person will probably have their name on multiple boxes. Or, you may have the name of a contractor or other outsider in one of the boxes. If you are solo, like me, your name will be next to ALL of the boxes for now! 

Special Instructions for Business Partners

If you have a business partner, this exercise is even more important for you! It is critical for you to formally decide what role each business partner is going to play in the day-to-day operation of the business. If everyone is responsible for everything, that’s a great recipe for nothing getting done. I also recommend that you designate just one person to be the integrator instead of trying to share that role.

Do you have an org chart for your small team? How has it helped you?


 

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