Managing knowledge in your small business is one of the most important things you need to be doing as an entrepreneur. From keeping track of things you learn along the way to documenting how your business operates, knowledge management is critical to the long-term success and scalability of your operation.
Having an intentional knowledge management system will help you ensure you’re capturing the information important to you and your business. It will help you stay organized and minimize the time you spend “relearning” things you’ve already learned.
Like many systems in your business, you don’t need to overcomplicate this one. Whatever you do, it has to be a system that works for you. What determines the right system for you is how you organize, think, and what makes sense to you.
Types of Knowledge to Think About
When you think about the type of system you should have in your business to manage knowledge, it’s important to think through the type of information you have and want to track. This will be a little different for every business, but there are some common denominators across all businesses.
Stuff You Learn
Every day, you’ll learn new things that will be valuable to know later. With the amount of information that comes at everyone day to day, it’s impossible for the average person to remember it all.
Have you ever had a good idea but didn’t write it down and after some time, forgot what it was? You know you had a great idea but because you didn’t write it down and it was a short thought in the middle of a ton of other thoughts, you can’t remember it.
I’ve had this happen on more than one occasion!
As ideas for your business come to you, you’ll have a much better chance of remembering them later if you write them down.
Another use I find for writing down ideas is that it gives me the opportunity to maintain my focus better on the things that matter. Oftentimes, ideas that come are actually not things you should be working on now: They are not priorities for you and your business right now.
Having the ability to indulge for a few minutes on an idea allows me to get it out without the fear of forgetting anything but then allows me to get back to my priority work.
How Things Work
Your business has many moving parts. From how to deliver products and services to your Customers to how you pay your bills, there are pieces everywhere. Knowing how these pieces work makes your life easier now and in the long run. Especially when technology is involved, knowing how all the pieces work can save you hours of relearning things in the future.
If scaling your business is important, you really need to understand and document how your business works. Yes, you can scale to a certain point without spending much effort on this, but you will eventually hit a wall and won’t be able to scale without having a good knowledge management system in place.
If you have other employees, you need the ability to share knowledge with your employees, and a good knowledge management system facilitates that knowledge transfer.
A good knowledge management system will help you keep a smoother operation and will save you time when new employees come on board.
Tools for Knowledge Management
There are a number of tools that could be used to manage knowledge in your business. Which one you pick should be up to you: Ultimately you want to pick something that works for you.
Microsoft’s OneNote is the center of the knowledge management system for Optimize For Outcomes. The system I use is pretty simple. Everything goes into OneNote, the end.
OneNote has anything I’ve ever written, with the exception of my book which was written in Word.
The Optimize For Outcomes OneNote is full of drawings, processes, ideas, task lists, and more. It allows me to organize all of the knowledge about the business in one place that’s easily sharable with others when needed.
OneNote also has a phone app that allows me to use the same notebook on any PC as well as my mobile phone.
Keep It Simple
I’ll close with this reminder. Keep it simple. You don’t need to spend loads of time or money developing a complicated knowledge management system. As always, define your desired outcomes first and then use that as a focal point as you build out your knowledge management system.
If you have any questions, reach out via email or FB Messenger!