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It's All In Your Head

One of the best foods in the world is gyoza – Japanese dumplings. When prepared correctly, they are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of meaty, juicy, deliciousness. If you’ve never had them before, stop reading this article and go get some. Come back when your belly is full of gyoza. 

Japanese gyoza 3 (Small)
Although ponzu sauce is traditionally used for gyoza, the Bangkok sauce from Umami Shop is also excellent.

My mom showed me how to make gyoza many years ago, but she never actually gave me a recipe. Since then, I’ve relied on memory to make them, and eventually, they’ve become something of a specialty of mine. 

Recently, a friend and self-proclaimed gyoza connoisseur decided he wanted to learn to make his own. He asked for my recipe, as he has enjoyed mine in the past. That was a bit of a problem – I didn’t have one written down!

This reminded me of something we see all the time in small businesses – owners don’t write anything down! Systems, processes, contacts, and other vital information is stored in various places, usually somewhere in the owner’s head.

Writing this information down has many benefits:

  • Consistency – my gyoza isn’t necessarily the same from one batch to the next, because I never know exactly how much ginger to use, or how much cabbage. I simply go by feel. But, do you want your employees, especially new ones, to go by “feel” when they are working for you?
  • Efficiency – if my wife decided to make gyoza one day, she would have to start from scratch and try and figure it out on her own, resulting in duplicated effort. If I had it written down, she could just pick it up and follow it without reinventing the wheel. Training someone new is also much easier with a written set of instructions.
  • Fill in absences – similar to number 2, written policies and procedures help ensure your business can function when you’re not there. Most of us like to take vacation from time to time – having documented systems will help ensure your business doesn’t suffer when you’re not there. 
  • Clarity – employees and customers love clarity and knowing what to expect. Writing out key ideas, like your mission and vision statement, help provide clarity. In fact, the very process of writing down your mission and vision might give you insight on where you actually want your business to go.
  • Make change easier – documenting what you do now will make it easier to target areas that you need to change later. It’s like making changes to a recipe – if you don’t know how much salt you put in before, how do you fix it if it’s too salty?
  • Transition – properly documented systems make your business easy to take over. If you have thought about selling your business, start documenting – it will make your business much more attractive to a buyer.   

All these benefits increase the value of your business. Would you pay more for a gyoza restaurant that has its recipes written down, versus one where the recipes walk out the door with the owner?  The easier it is for someone to walk in and take over, the more your business is worth.

Documenting key aspects of your business is important, but unfortunately, really easy to put off. We can help – our team can walk through your systems and help you prepare everything from a mission and vision to documented policies, procedures, and manuals. 

As for my gyoza-loving friend, I sat down and wrote out my recipe for him. Unfortunately, he started a grease fire the first time he tried making gyoza, so I guess I might have to write a kitchen safety manual for him, too.

Documenting business procedures and policies
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