Building a SaaS now and 20 years ago with Alister Esam from Process Bliss

Product Stories
Building a SaaS now and 20 years ago with Alister Esam from Process Bliss
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Summary

How has the SaaS industry changed and evolved over 20 years? What is the best way to manage people with process?

Today’s guest is Alister Esam, Founder of Process Bliss. Despite being a non-technical founder, Alister is a SaaS veteran. He launched his first SaaS in 2003 and then sold it to a competitor a few years ago.

Episode Highlights/Topics: 

  • How Alister started a SaaS company before it was a cool thing to do
  • How Alister solved the scalability problem with software
  • Forget Farming: Alister decided to join a consultancy and be an actuary
  • Pension Plans: Worth billions but went bust when investment returns didn’t perform
  • New Regulator: Recognized need for pension funds to run better with technology
  • SaaS Supply and Demand: Mission is to solve problem others want to support 
  • Motivation: Alister wanted to build something he was proud of to escape employment 
  • Selling Business: Only one not gaining anything—but money, freedom—lose identity 
  • Lifestyle Change: Is attaching your identity to your business healthy to be happy?
  • Bootstrap SaaS: Tougher to do today because people expect more out of the software
  • Financial Mentality: How it has changed and is understood in the SaaS industry
  • Client Perception: Why is another new system needed to solve the problem? Hassle
  • People Management: People get process wrong; assume it’s controlling, kills creativity
  • Process Deterioration: If people aren’t following process—process, not people, is wrong
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Serve purpose but usually out of date    

Resources/Links:

Trustshoring

Alister Esam

Alister Esam Mobile Phone: 44-7418-371-866

Process Bliss

The Dirty Word

SaaStock

DocuSign

SharePoint

LocoNoco

HubSpot

Read the transcript: 

Victor [00:14]: Welcome back everyone. Today’s guest is Alister Esam, founder of Process Bliss. Despite being a non-technical founder. He’s a SaaS veteran. He’s launched his first SaaS way back in 2003 and sold it to a competitor a few years ago. Right now he’s building his next thing. Listen to his story. How the SaaS industry changed over almost 20 years. And let’s take a quick look on Alister’s approach to manage people with Process. Alister welcome to the show.

Alister [00:44]: Thanks Vic. Nice to be here. Appreciate the chance.

Victor [00:46]: Awesome. Yeah. How did you end up founding a SaaS company in 2003 before it was cool?

Alister [00:52]: Well, I think my father used to rent out buildings. Well, he was a farmer and farming went bad in the UK, pig farming anyway, at some point in time. So he sold out the farm and started to turn all these buildings into kind of offices and load storage and all sorts of things. And I thought that was a much better. I never went into farming. I thought it was a muggs game and I thought renting all this these officers out was like, he made more money and he didn’t have anything like the risk he had with farming and none of the stress and hard work. And I just thought, well, that’s really cool.

[01:25] So when sort of tech became a thing that you could do, I just thought, well, I saw this opportunity to rent out software, except the difference was he’s got a limited number of farm buildings, whereas I could keep replicating my software and rent out and again and again. So this was 2003 software as a service wasn’t even a word. So for me it was just like, let’s rent some software. It sounds really, really good idea. So that’s kind of how I got into it.

Victor [01:52]: That’s amazing. So you essentially thought that you could solve the scalability problem that your dad had with software. You understood the unit economics of software and you wanted to go for it. And how did you decide on what to build? What did you build in the end?

Alister [02:11]: So at the time I obviously turned my back on farming, which my father was a bit upset about and I’d gone and set up a or joined a consultancy. And I was an [02:21 inaudible] and I was consulting with pension funds about how they should be funded and things like that. And these pension funds back then, they acted just like clubs, like the trustees of the pension fund that might be managing billions of pounds of assets would turn up the night before a meeting. They have a meeting every quarter, they turn up the night before, get drunk, have a lovely meal. The next day would be basically them sitting there doing nothing, sneezing and hangovers. They’d have a nice lunch and two glasses of wine. And then they’d all clear off home and I thought, wow, these pension funds are worth billions, I’m running them.

[02:58] And I thought this can’t be right. Anyway, it wasn’t right because it all went wrong. And about 2000 and kind of year 2000, somewhere around there, all of a sudden these pension funds that always had loads of money in them, investment returns, didn’t perform. And they all of a sudden were struggling for money and some of them were going bust. And all of a sudden people weren’t getting their pensions. It was pretty awful and no one had thought this would ever happen. So I kind of saw the writing on the wall, a new regulator came out and said we need to do a better job.

[03:29] It was under Tony Blair government and he wanted these pension funds to run better and to work better. And I just thought, well, technology plays a part in that. And so that was the opportunity really to say let’s kind of set something up that, that helps these pension funds run better. Turns out what these guys did was have meetings and read board papers. So what our software, which became board packs was about delivering their board packs electronically. And yeah, we grew that to be the largest kind of UK provider of that technology by the end. We sold out to our American competitor. So, yeah.

Victor [04:02]: Exciting. So you essentially took advantage of a change in regulation that big companies had to adapt to. And obviously, that created the demand. How did you sell being a small provider?

Alister [04:17]: I think [04:17] took advantage of the situation. I think what actually happened was we saw a problem there. I mean, regardless of the regulator, these funds needed to run better and things, and they were running points. So our mission was to just make them work better. And I think it’s an important point to your audience because I think you need to make clear, you need to have a problem to solve in the world with a SaaS product. It’s not just enough to react and build something because as someone says it’s necessary, you’ve really got to have a kind of mission that your employees and everybody can get behind, but coming on to the sale. It is an interesting one, the sale, because as a founder CEO, it’s a really difficult thing to get your head around.

[04:58] You build this business for your certain motivations and everybody’s motivations are different. Mine was kind of to build something I was proud of and to escape, I suppose it was to escape employment as well and to become my own person and to gain an autonomy. But your business becomes your identity. And so I mean I sold the business four times really before I eventually sold it. So the first time was to one of the big 4 accounting firms. They agreed to buy it. And I was just like, then they said I needed to become a partner of the accounting firm. And I was like, I’m not going to do that. So forget it. So I walked away and I mean, a useful tip for anyone selling a business there, is that it doesn’t hurt to try and sell it and then pull out because I got my biggest client there from them because I went back him later and said, why did you want it?

[05:44] And I said, well, we can help you anyway, because you can just become a client and buy the software and do that. So that was the first time. Second time was to the people who eventually bought it. And that was really embarrassing. I mean, I got to about, well through the due diligence, we’d agreed to sell it. They’d shipped over 20 people from New York to a hotel for two days. And my team came up to meet them with five or six people. All the advisors were there. So 30 people more in this room and we sit for two days going through all the due diligence and grilling all the product manager and grilling the IT guys and grilling the HR and the marketing. And they’re really trying to understand your business.

[06:25] And after the first day we all go for dinner for that evening. And I said to my wife, you sat in the room and you realize when you’re selling a business that you are kind of the only one in the room, not gaining anything, which sounds strange to say, and no one really gets it. But in that room, you’ve got the advisors who are all getting seven figure. They’re getting seven figure payouts on both sides. You’ve got all the people that are buying it. They’re all getting big bonuses as a result of this. You’ve got your own team that are going to get a payout, but ultimately, yes, you’re going to get some money, but it’s only what your business is worth anyway.

[06:55] So you’ve got a business, whether you sell it or not. And so you’re not really gaining anything, you’re just changing your lifestyle and what you’re losing, you’re gaining your freedom, but you’re losing your identity. And it’s a really weird thing to go through. And I said to my wife the night in between these two days we went out for dinner and I said to her, I’m not comfortable with this. And she just said, well, you don’t have to do it. I said, well, these guys have spent quarter of a million pound now doing their due diligence. So I can’t just pull out. So I had a week of kind of pain and sleepless nights figuring it out. And then I decided to pull out.

[07:29] So yeah, we went through all that. I had another approach to VCs, but eventually we sold it to them about six months later. So it gets interest the whole identity thing with the business when you set it up. So yeah.

Victor [07:42]: Oh, it’s true. It’s a very valid point. Especially if you run it for many years. There’s a lot of people who say it, don’t let your business become your “baby”, what some people call it. But, but then again, ultimately how can you not? In some way, it’s this thing you’re proud of. And you’re seeing growth. If I were to make it parallel.

Alister [08:04]: Yeah, it is. And I do miss it. Even though I’ve got my new business, I do miss it. That business was larger when I sold it than this one is. And I miss that kind of buzz of having a big organization that operates around you. And I do remember thinking at the time, maybe that’s unhealthy. Maybe you shouldn’t need this in life to be happy. So I almost forced a life change on myself, thinking, it is an unhealthy thing to have attached your identity to a business, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It is still is an unpleasant experience. There is still an unpleasant aspect to it that’s very uncomfortable.

Victor [08:41]: That’s true. How big was your team back at the company when you sold it?

Alister [08:46]: My development team was about 30. My overall business was about 75, 80 people.

Victor [08:52]: That’s very decent size for SaaS. Did you bootstrap that one or was it funded?

Alister [08:57]: I bootstrapped it. I think things were different back then. I think that would be a really tough thing to do today. I don’t know anyone who’s really trying to bootstrap, well, maybe a few people, but trying to bootstrap SaaS is hard because people expect more of the software. So I kind of bootstrapped it. I think we probably would’ve been more, well, we would definitely be more success if we’d take an investment, but it just wasn’t a world I knew at the time.

Victor [09:19]: Yeah. Today of course the landscape is a bit different. VCs are well known. Every word are kind of a new social class, so to speak. So are SaaS entrepreneurs. Today that’s a thing you can tell someone at a dinner party and they wouldn’t know what you’re doing. As opposed to 20 years ago, I guess. But speaking of which I think this is interesting what you’re saying about bootstrapping today. I know a lot of people who are bootstrapping SaaS and some of them are also very successful, but I guess the general idea of SaaS becoming easier, because some people say it’s easier to build a SaaS now.

[10:01] Because you have better frameworks, better technology, a lot of components you can reuse. Third party services, whatnot. But ultimately because it’s becoming easier, is it not becoming harder is what you’re saying because now there is more SaaS. It’s become easier to build per se. So the expectations have gone up, there’s more competition. So is it not becoming maybe harder? Is that what you’re saying?

Alister [10:28]: Yeah. I think it’s becoming easier and harder. And in essence it’s much easier to build a decent SaaS product using all the tools. I mean, if you go to SaaS stock or somewhere like that, it’s like there’s so many SaaS companies selling to SaaS companies. There’s so much software out there, SaaS software for SaaS software companies. It’s almost like anybody who’s making the money around here because we’re all selling to each other. And it’s becoming almost self-perpetuating because there’s so much SaaS for SaaS. So that’s great. But that also means there’s so much competition. It’s like anything that just means loads of people can come in.

[11:04] Whereas when I started, we started and we were doing this board paper solution. We did it for pension funds, because that was my background. Then we went and did it for universities. Then we went and did it for corporates. We did it for hospitals. We did for schools. We did it for all sorts of people. And we went from sector to sector, whereas now, and we didn’t really find anybody to compete with until quite far on, whereas now I think, you very quickly, you need to find your niche and then you very quickly move on to another niche, but it’s already covered because someone else is hitting that because there’s so much more of it around.

[11:40] So what I do think it’s doing though, I mean it’s massively improved the quality of SaaS, the knowledge we have, the data we have, the tools we have. Intercom and things like that from the ability to yeah, that was just a dream, that would’ve just been a dream come true in the day to have all the kind of functionality of the live chat and the tool tips all built in and easy to use and automated as well as the data you collect through the software.

[12:04] It’s absolutely fascinating how the industry has evolved, which is really just improved the quality and the volume of these products that can be made to serve different purposes. Take Docusign for an example, I find DocuSign interesting because I remember thinking when DocuSign came out and they were successful, I thought that’s where signings sign up. But then all of a sudden, I mean, how, many signing products have since come out, carving out their niches like PandaDoc and Hellosign and all these others. They’re also massively successful, just chipping away at different kind more specialist areas and making really great advancements in the area of something as simple as signing documents.

Victor [12:40]: True. And to this point of how easy or easier it perhaps is to build software today because you can essentially wire together a few tools and you have a fairly sophisticated thing. How did you build your MVP back in the days? What was your sort of scrappy, first thing you built?

Alister [13:03]: So I’m bootstrapping it. I said a bootstrapper I did actually approach an IT firm who agreed to take an equity state for helping to develop it. They, unfortunately or fortunately for me went bust, which meant I was free to carry on, on my own. We had two clients and I said, well, you either go with it or you don’t, but we’re not making any money. And they sort of said, no you’re on your own. But they gave me the first prototype, building it with very little budget. We were fortunate enough to be able to hang onto SharePoint, which I kind of grown to hate as a tool. It’s a very clunky Microsofty piece of software.

[13:43] But what we were able to do was probably do what you can do now, but in a lot more sophisticated way, we were able to get a product to market. Essentially it wasn’t a lot more than SharePoint to start with, with a few little tweaks and people knew what SharePoint was, no one discovered that go it. So we could take what was an already developed platform, modify it a little bit and push it out. And we grew from there. And what was interesting was I kind of like, it took me all the way through to 2018 when I sold it, we would just building the [14:11 inaudible] the next version of the software, which would’ve got rid of SharePoint completely. Up until that we had to do so much work to work around SharePoint because SharePoint became our database.

[14:21] You can imagine, you just want to implement something like user management, but you have to implement user management in the SharePoint way, using Microsoft window, but you don’t want to have to have organizational units in Microsoft and all that kind of detailed stuff, Microsoft desktop users have. So we had to write stuff to their software, to make it do what we wanted. And it was absolutely so complicated. It became a bit of a rod for our back in the end. But it helped us getting off the ground really efficiently.

Victor [14:49]: That’s super interesting, you’re mentioning it because there’s a parallel to very up to date approach on how to, well, bootstrap your SaaS or build your initial version validate, which is one of the many low code, no code tools out there. It’s exactly the same thing. You can get something out there very quickly, but once you scale, you either have to rewrite everything or you start writing around it at least initially, and then you really need to make it work altogether. So it’s super interesting to see that this has literally survived up until recently. Well, whatever works, right?

Alister [15:28]: Yeah. SharePoint must have been one of the first, [15:30 inaudible] products because that’s what it was. It was them saying, anybody can build a portal, but you’re right, in the end, what we had was SharePoint in the background, we’d ran a whole UI over the top of it. You never saw SharePoint anymore, but we were having to write to [15:44 inaudible] UI. So it kind of is interesting how that’s evolved [15:50 inaudible] stayed the same.

Victor [15:52]: What else do you think has changed since the early two thousands in terms of SaaS?

Alister [15:57]: I guess what I’ve already mentioned about the whole, I mean, so much has changed. I mean, it didn’t exist back then, so it’s become its own ecosystem. It’s become its own thing. I mean, I can remember in what would it be? Probably 2006, maybe something like that. I can remember hearing the word software as a service for the first time and thinking, Hey, that’s what we do. And sort of, not really, didn’t really didn’t caught onto it at a time, but yeah, so much has changed because it’s sort of like a thing people understand. We have to explain it to people back then.

[16:28] I think one other thing that’s changed is the mentality of people with regards to the finances, because if you’ve got a SaaS business, you know, that if you get a million dollars of revenue, that’s worth 5 million pounds or $5 million. So you can kind of get investment and you can kind of commit things. But back then people thought I was absolutely nuts. They thought you’re pouring money into this thing. You’re spending more on clients than it’s paying you in a year and I was going, yeah, but they’re going to stay forever. So it’s fine. And that whole kind of mentality didn’t exist. And so you were nuts for thinking that, whereas now it’s just an accepted thing.

[17:06] So the whole financing thing has become different. I mean, the idea of pricing a business on multiple of revenue, I mean to many people, that’s still quite surprising as opposed to multiple profit. It’s sort of like, it’s almost like the expense element is irrelevant because it’s SaaS because it will just carry on doing what it does forever. So I think that’s kind of changed considerably.

Victor [17:28]: That’s a very, very fair point. Thank you.

Alister [17:32]: So the other thing to cut in, I think is the client perception. That’s quite interesting. So one of the things we face in that period back then was we’ve already got a system to do this. People wanted to minimize the number of systems they had. They go, oh, we’ve already got Microsoft for email, word and doc, and we’ve already got this system over here for managing our operations. And we really don’t need another system. You think, well, those systems don’t solve the problem we’re solving, but it was a struggle. Whereas now, we are a starter. We’ve got way, way, way more systems and pieces of software than employees and we don’t worry about it and it’s all single sign on and it’s brilliant. It’s not a hassle, back then that was a hassle to people.

Victor [18:15]: That’s true. But you also see today, I think how the market is less and less fragmented in very popular areas. There’s the HubSpots that really take up big, big chunks of with people, previously distributed SaaS tools of even integrating in CRM now. So I think that’s really happening. It’s going to be a big trend to, again, consolidate a lot of things.

Alister [18:42]: That’s quite interesting from my experience, because I think that lot of that is finance driven. I mean, if you pick on our example, the US competitor that bought us was a VC backed or private equity, VC backed kind of, they were bought by private equity and their job, what private equity did was a mockup of all the little solutions out there. So we were mocked up. A lot of our competitors were mock up and they just went out and bought everything they could buy in the marketplace with the intention, I assume of kind of floating and a much bigger organization. So there is a consolidation angle that we were involved in back then. And so, yeah, definitely, I think that’s the way those things will work.

Victor [19:26]: Which might make it again harder for someone to bootstrap a small tool, because it might even be better than what others are using, but if you’re not within that ecosystem, the switching cost just could be way too big.

Alister [19:41]: Yeah. But I still see, I mean, I’m an investor as well, and I’ve got about 15 companies. I’m invested in typically SaaS companies, not all but most. And I think there’s just so much stuff out there. These companies come along and you’re constantly looking at them and thinking, wow, no one’s ever done that before. And that’s really cool and why has no one ever thought of that? And then you’ve got things like open banking, which open banking in the UK, which I think is coming to the US as well, where people’s bank accounts are becoming kind of much more open to software being able to interact with them.

[20:18]: That’s just created a whole new field of SaaS products, they’re all brilliant and just kind of doing amazing things. So I think there’s plenty of opportunity out there. If you can just find your thing.

Victor [20:33]: Yeah, totally, you’re right about that. Whenever you think everything’s been done before you find someone who does something new, very brilliantly. But thank you so much for walking us through 20 years of SaaS. But now we want to turn to a topic that, you know very well too, which is people management. You’ve had 70 people under you, within the last company. And your new SaaS essentially is about process management. And probably there are a lot of misconceptions about people management and process. There’s a lot of, especially beginning founders who say, oh, process is not good for creativity. How do you react to that? Because maybe they just understand process wrong.

Alister [21:25]: I think process, I’ve actually written a book called The Dirty Word, which you can get on Amazon, but if you look it up, you’ll need to check the author because there are some other more suspect, dirty words on Amazon. It’s about that very topic. The fact that people get process wrong. As soon as you introduce the word process, people assume it’s going to be controlling, kills creativity and all those things. And what I found, I went on a little journey with the [21:51 inaudible] business to kind of go through this. And so I got to a point where there were about 10 people in the business and I was working really, really long hours, basically policing quality because I wanted this business to be perfect.

[22:06] So I’m there kind of going around, on top of everything meddling in everything. I think I’m the only one that can ever get anything right. And I’m the only one with a good idea. And my team hated it because I was killing their motivation because they wanted autonomy to do wonderful things. And I was making that almost impossible by my constant micromanaging. So I thought I had to change and I was working long hours. So this wasn’t happy for me. And I thought, there’s no way I can double the size of this business doing this, because I’m just going to have to keep working longer and longer hours on top of it all. So I kind of looked at process, initially as a way to control the business and it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work that way, that just continues this drudgery of killing creativity.

[22:48] So I went on a bit of a journey and that’s where the process software came in, where we wrote this software and then instead of using it to control people, we put people before process. So one of the things we always say is people are smarter than process. So when you’ve got someone who’s not following a process, if you’ve got a process and people don’t follow it, it’s probably because the process is wrong. Not because the people are wrong and what’s important to know, is why they’re not following it. And to encourage them to report back and say, Hey, we are not going to follow this process for this reason rather than to make them follow something, which simply doesn’t work and makes them miserable and frustrated that they can’t do a good job because the process is in the way.

[23:30] So that was the background to process person. So we developed this SaaS software product, which was really more like process guidance. It’s a checklist kind of piece of software that allows you to capture all your processes for people to follow them. It also manages everybody’s tasks in the business, like a project management, task management tool across the business. But people kind of manage all their tasks and their processes through it. But if they see something that’s wrong, they have the opportunity to say, Hey, I’m not going to do that. And this is why. And from that, you get loads of information about how you can improve your business. You learn something.

[24:02] So for example, if people aren’t recording, putting a new job advert on the website. It’s probably because that’s either not a sensible thing to do or it’s too difficult. So let’s have a look at why they’re not doing it and maybe we should scrap that step or maybe we should kind of change it or improve it or make the website better. So all of that is about harnessing all the people in your business to make your business run better. And for me, it took me from the 10 people working 80 hours a week to really, when we had 75, 80 people, I was doing no ongoing work at all. The team and it was the same team that kept with me all the way pretty much.

[24:41] The same team were running the business for me. So yeah, it’s that kind of and so people really do misunderstand process and I think you’ve gotta rethink it as a empowering tools that that should encourage creativity, not kill it.

Victor [24:55]: So if I understand that correctly your tool essentially. If I look at it, if I look at kicking off a standard process, if I imagine some of the tools that will populate a list of tasks or guide me through a few steps, if I’m an employee and I’m kicking off a process, but now instead of having to actually check off every single step, there’s no other option, like check this off. You can get to the next one, there’s an option, which says, I’m not doing this here’s why, and I’ll just put in, I’m not doing this because it’s not necessary for this client.

[25:29] And then me as the business owner, I’m looking at all of this feedback and I’m like, if 80% of the time, this step is not followed because it makes no sense why are we doing this versus not having this feedback at all? And looking at it fully checked list, even though people haven’t done things or I’ve done them, even though they make no sense.

Alister [25:49]: Yeah. And the trouble is that if you don’t have process, that happens anyway, but you just don’t know why. And it may be that you should be doing something else instead, or it may be that there’s a much better way of handling this, but you don’t get the information on why. So what happens in business is people ask for things to be done and they start to happen. I call it process deterioration. You agree something at a meeting we’re going to do this every time a client comes on board. And then you find out six months later that it’s not happening. And you’re like, why is that not happening? We agreed it. And it’s because people didn’t want to do it, but maybe there’s little things. Like, for example, we used to give people a gift when they came on board, a client gets a gift, all of a sudden one day people aren’t getting the gift anymore.

[26:31] Well, it would’ve been nice if we could have agreed, well, we think this gift is a waste of time. Let’s do something else instead. But instead you just see these processes gradually deteriorating. And it’s because there’s no sense that there is a process. It’s because people just are busy and they think that, they don’t see the point in certain things. And the biggest area that breaks down is often in communication and how departments communicate with each other. In our produce release process where the developers would develop something and then they would say to marketing, we’re ready to release it. And marketing would say, I need two months to do that.

[27:06] I’ve got a brief client coming. I’m supposed to tell them about the new feature, kind of get them excited about it, but you are just going to release it and that’s going to have the opposite effect. Everyone’s just going to say, why have you done this to me? Why have you released this new feature? I was happy with how it was before. And the guys wouldn’t find out until that point in time as well, because no one had told them. So what process did, is it made sure that the correct bits of all the departments were kind of started work at the right time to work towards a really great outcome.

[27:38] So yeah the other mistake people make is they think processes should be locked down and kept the same. And they’ll often say to me, we’re not going to load our processes on yet because we’re still refining them. And I’m thinking you should be refining that process forever. You should never stop refining that process because the world keeps changing. There are always better ways to do things. So the idea that you’re going to lock it down is just nonsense. You just get it on there, start using it and then use process versus the tool to make it better over time.

Victor [28:08]: That makes sense. And I have another question on this, which is what mistakes people make when they write SOPs, especially when it comes to the granularity of tasks, which kind of leads right into what you’re saying, liberating people and not locking them down. What’s the right level of granularity here?

Alister [28:30]: Okay. A bit flipping. I think SOPs, when we set up process, I thought SOPs were a total waste of time. It’s probably a little unfair. They probably do serve a purpose in certain circumstances, but what happens is, I’d seen this done. When we were at 10 employees and I needed to do something, what I’d seen in previous businesses was people drafting SOPs, putting them on a file on a shelf or on a file share, no one ever looks at them, but now once a year, they’re out of date. So we need to go and update the SOP, so someone’s got the job of updating the SOP to match.

[29:04] They’re not thinking about it. They are not trying to improve things. They’re just going to match what’s actually happening in practice because if somebody might get run over by a bus and I found that ludicrous really. I thought this is just a job that adds no value and it’s just going to cost me money. So I thought we’re not doing that. So I think SOPs can serve a purpose in terms of when someone comes on board, this is how you do it, but it’s probably out of date anyway. So you need to talk to the person doing the job or who’s done the job. So I’m not a big fan of that. And what I realized when I needed to solve this problem was that, the key processes, the ones that were really going to make our business dynamic, I needed them embedded in the business.

[29:46] I needed something that the process wasn’t something that was separate, like a file on the shelf. The person doing the job, saw the process, ticked it off or crossed it, or had input into the process as they were going, because the best people to change the process are the people doing the work, that’s when you learn something. The idea that you conduct independent process reviews is nonsense to me, what you should be doing is improving your processes as you’re doing the job, because that’s when you know what works and what doesn’t work. So yeah, I’m not a fan of SOPs per se, but I can see how for something people do want to document them and that makes them feel comfortable.

Victor [30:22]: That’s super interesting. That makes a lot of sense, actually. And that’s why you built Process Bliss to support that sort of framework and mindset.

Alister [30:31]: Yeah. And I built it for me. I built it for my business, not for everybody else. It was only when I had the opportunity to sell my old business, I thought actually, here’s an opportunity to do what this is done for me for loads and loads of other small businesses around. So that’s when I really thought we ought to do something commercial around this.

Victor [30:49]: Awesome. Where can people learn more about Process Bliss per se and how it works and maybe if they want to use it, try it out?

Alister [30:58]: So Process Bliss, go to ProcessBliss.com. And they can kind of get in touch with us there. The other thing I think people can do. One of the things I’ve written. I’ve written a book and I’ve got my own website, AlisterEsam.com where we have loads of content and useful stuff. And I guess one of the things I’m really interested in is people who enjoy this topic, just have a debate with them. So one of the things we’ve done there is we put on there my personal mobile, which is I’ll give you it now it’s 44 for the UK, get your phones out and go into messaging now, if you’re listening live. 44 for the UK, or even if you’re listening, not live 44 for the UK, 7 4 1 8 3 7 1 8 6 6, send me a message about process and I promise I’ll get back to you. So yeah, I think yeah, if you want toa do that, test me out and we’ll have a chat and go from there. That’s kind of how I like to do it.

Victor [31:51]: Amazing. Next time, I’ll fly out to some exotic time zone on the other side of the world, I’ll try it out and text you.

Alister [31:59]: It’s actually a text message only number. So you can’t call me in the middle of the night. I reserve the right to reply within 24 hours.

Victor [32:09]: I see you what you’re doing with that by now, very good. Thank you so much Alister this has been really insightful. Thanks for taking us through this. It’s been great to have you in the show.

Alister [32:19]: It’s a pleasure, but really enjoyed it.

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