What do you hear when I say ‘business systems?’ I bet it’s overkill.
As if you have time in your already crazy schedule to document your process and create an outline for business actions that feel natural. Your processes might even be spontaneous, depending on what happens that week or what’s working.
I’m going to lay it out for you. If you don’t have systems, you don’t have a business, you have a job.
It's that clean cut.
As a business coach, this is the biggest mistake a see made in small to medium businesses; having no systems or a system so disorganised and out of sync with what you do it’s worthless.
And I’m not just talking about struggling businesses with this, even successful businesses can get along for a while on nothing. The thing is, flying by the seat of your pants will work, to an extent, and then the whole thing will come crashing down - especially if you are experiencing rapid growth and your products are flying off the shelves.
To be able to scale, see growth and build your business past the startup phase, you MUST have solid systems.
A business system allows you to see patterns that you will absolutely miss otherwise. These patterns can be both positive - ways to jump forward and accelerate a specific area, as well as negative, big mistakes and gaping holes in what you are doing that are going unnoticed in the hecticness of your day.
Best of all, you stop the burnout. There’s a crazy notion out there that if you want to build your own business it’s mandatory to put in excessive hours and give the rest of your life away. This is not smart business and really bad advice. Any successful business owner will tell you that when they worked smarter, not harder, their business grew and they were able to reach and exceed their goals.
If you look at business owners who have multiple successful businesses, let’s say Richard Branson, he did it all by creating one perfect system and applying it to everything he does. That's how you make your millions and live the life you want: business systems.
A system is what gives you the ability to work smart, delegate effectively, and have the right team and support to assist in building your business as well as fill gaps in the skills and training you need to see significant results for less work.
You don’t have to do it all. A solid business system allows you to pass your workload out to others and get the same - or better - results than doing it yourself because your communication, plan and instructions are accurate, streamlined and of high quality.
Business plans are great, aren’t they? But as every startup knows, what you put on paper before you launch your business, no matter how careful you plan it, isn’t what reality dishes out. Within a year, your business plan is just a dusty paperweight with no connection to the work you are actually doing in your day.
For every change off the map, you put in a solution - sometimes hastily - to get you to the next step, or maybe just through that day. The problem is, as you keep moving and keep growing the patchwork of solutions start to become your natural business processes, however flawed or ridiculously they might be. Because they are behind you and you are dealing with the next thing, you don’t even see it. As you grow bigger and faster, these patchworks will be the weak points that will fail, and you might never know why.
As soon as you sit down and plot what you are doing and how you do things, this patchwork becomes really obvious. I've had clients in complete disbelief and bewilderment that they have managed so long on a botched process that’s gone under the radar - WTF!
The other major challenge business owners face is sharing the work. When you start out in business you do it all, you have to, you don't have the funding or experience to manage and direct a team.
As you grow and build, the tendency to do it all yourself gets ingrained, to the point where you might be doing the work of five people (badly).
This is a big part that led to my first, and highly successful business failing - spectacularly. I started out making custom cycling kits, and it quickly took off to be a six-figure business. I had zero systems and was trying to communicate with fabric suppliers in Europe and manufacturers in China to keep the quality at the highest possible standard.
It was impossible for me to do it all, but handing it over to someone else didn't even cross my mind. Once the business escalated there was so much more money, but insane amounts of work, all on my shoulders. Running faster to try to keep up with it all did nothing to help my business, my marriage or my leadership. There was no way my business could succeed with the set-up I had built, and more ‘hustle’ didn’t save any of it.
Now I understand the importance of building a solid, clear and detailed system from the start that outlines my processes, prioritising my workload, allows my team to get their job done well and covers any empty bases when someone is away on leave - even me.
Knowing who to hire and what type of skills you need from them is key to building a team that works. Without a solid system, you are not going to have any idea what staff you need for what jobs. If you do employ someone, you can't write an accurate job description, hire the right skill set or easily describe what you need them to do. This leads to overlaps in workloads, general confusion and poor performance. It’s not their fault, you’ve built it that way.
Every business is different which gives you the flexibility to choose a system that works for your team. Keep in mind if you choose a simple system for a small team, you will need to upgrade eventually as more team members come on, so allow some room for that.
The system you have needs to be accessible to every team member and editable (by you) so you can make changes as you evolve and grow.
Technology makes automatic systems possible as well, something that you might not have been able to afford initially, but with growing profits, it’s worthwhile considering how a small investment here will help grow your business and create more harmony within your team.
Your business system will be able to:
While all these will greatly benefit your team and your business, it’s really important to look at the benefits you will get personally as well. These are really important personal motivators. When you can remain passionate and connected to your business you power everything forward.
Imagine the personal impact of having:
Business owners spend so much energy thinking about others and taking care of their team, but you need things for yourself too. Establishing a strong work-life balance to enjoy life outside the office, spend time with family and get away for much-needed holidays are something you can achieve without sacrificing business results, all you need is the right systems in place.
Your system is built by breaking down everything you do, as well as all employee roles. List each task as well as any associations with other roles and departments and provide step-by-step instructions on everything that needs to happen in your business. The best way to do this is by imagining you are sitting with someone face to face and giving them instructions. This will help your process to cover all the steps in a clear, action-oriented way.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of upfront work but you don’t have to do it alone - in fact - I strongly recommend you don’t do this alone. Ask for support from a business coach to help you beat the overwhelm as well as identify the patterns in your current processes and suggest solutions that will get you on top, fast.
If you want support on getting your systems in place, connect with a network of business owners facing and conquering business growing pains through our Facebook group or book a call to learn the ropes from an experienced business coach.
Here's how you can bring your business to the next level:
1. Download my free resource on 10 Simple Principles to Grow the Perfect Business
It's a detailed breakdown of how you can grow your business to seven figures in a smart and sustainable way.
Connect with like-minded individuals who are all about growth and increasing revenue. It's a Facebook community where we make regular posts aimed at inspiring conversations in a supportive environment. It's completely free and purposely aimed at expanding and building networks.
3. Join our Business Evolution Program and find more personal Time and Freedom.
I'm working with a few business owners who are making 20-50k a month right now but would like to change that by increasing their revenue without working nights and weekends. If you're in the same boat and you’d like to get back that time and still scale, click here.
4. Work with my team and I privately
If you'd like to work directly with me and my team to take you from five-figure to six and multi-six-figure revenue months whilst reducing reliance on you, then click here. Tell me about your business and what you'd like to work on together, and I'll get you all the details.
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