The Challenges of Growing Your Business - The Right Systems
The problem of managing information often prevents business CEOs from growing their business. They are prevented from working on (not in) their business, not being able to spend time on the things that really matter.
Beyond perfecting the product or service, hiring excellent team members, and securing financing, an owner must dedicate care and attention to building an organized and systemic approach to running the actual business. Although managing an early stage company often involves many instinctual decisions, starting to think about operations systems from day-one may be the best way to prepare your business for growth.
Volumes of Information
All businesses produce and rely on large volumes of information - financial records, interactions with customers and other business contacts, employee details, regulatory requirements and so on. It's too much to keep track of - let alone use effectively - without the right systems.
Responsibilities and tasks can be delegated as your business grows, but without solid management information systems you cannot manage effectively. The larger your business grows, the harder it is to ensure that information is shared and different functions work together effectively. Putting the right infrastructure in place is an essential part of helping your business to grow.
Documentation, policies and procedures also become increasingly important. The informality that might work with one or two employees and a handful of customers simply isn't practical in a growing business. You need proper contracts, clear terms and conditions, effective employment procedures and so on.
Investing in the right systems is an investment that will pay off both short and long term. You benefit every day from more effective operations. If you ever decide to sell the business, demonstrating that you have well-run, efficient systems will be an important part of proving its value.
What is a system?
You sometimes create systems without even knowing about it. Often, it’s instinctive, and can develop into a positive habit.
Here are the qualities of a system.
A system addresses a specific problem or business issue.
A system is automatic.
Once created, a system does not require intensive thought or effort.
A system is a process or routine.
What’s an example of such a system? An email system.
If you’re like most workers, you spend fourteen hours a week on email alone. Clearly, this is a specific problem that has far-reaching implications. By setting up an automatic email system, you can solve the problem.
Your system is an email process that saves time and effort.
What are the benefits of systems?
Systems can grow your business. The overriding impact of a system is that it can cause a business to grow. Instead of reacting to crises, you can proactively address growth hurdles. When you implement the right systems, you create for yourself both more time and mental freedom. With this time and mental energy, you can work to grow your business instead of burying yourself in busywork.
Systems save time. A simple system, once created and acted upon, can save hundreds of hours each year.
Systems dodge problems. In business, small problems can eventually lead to massive ones. Putting systems in place can successfully deal with small scale problems, thus avoiding looming future problems.
Systems improve productivity. Improving your business isn’t just about saving time. It’s about using the time you have to the greatest possible advantage. That’s the power of productivity.
What can you systematize?
You can systematize major business issues such as bookkeeping, and you can systematize smaller issues such as stocking your snack room. Here is how to find issues that need systems.
Identify issues that happen regularly. Example: Invoicing
Identify issues that take a lot of time. Example: Tax preparation
Identify issues that frustrate you. Example: Daily commute
Identify issues that are outside of your core competency. Example: Cleaning
You can create systems for your personal life, too. When you do so, you can create time and mental energy that allow you to focus on your business.
Once the system is in place, the stress is gone, the hurdle is obliterated, and the distraction dissolves.
How can you create a system?
If you’re ready to create systems in your business, what should you do? Here is a simple process.
Identify your issue. Pick something to systematize. Does it happen regularly, require a lot of time, or frustrate you? If so, then start to systematize it.
Plan your process. A system is basically a sophisticated process. You must plan exactly what this process is going to look like. A well-defined process solves your issue in a sequential way. I recommend that you write down the process by enumerating each of the steps. In some cases, you will want to outsource some or all of the process.
Execute your plan. Having a plan isn’t the same as acting on your plan. Now, it’s time execute. You may need to hire help. If you are systematizing house cleaning, you may need to hire a maid service. If you are systematizing workplace safety, you may need to hire an occupational health and safety consultant. With other systems, you might need to simply follow your plan. The first few times you may have to read from your numbered list as you follow the plan. Eventually, the system becomes a routine, allowing you to effortlessly overcome what used to be time-consuming problems.
Setting up a system on the front end takes quite a bit of time. In the long run, however, you’re saving yourself hundreds of hours of frustration and stress. It is well worth it.
What are some examples of systems?
The types of systems you can create are endless. Here are some examples.
Sales systems. Manage contacts, track leads and monitor deal progress without letting opportunities fall through the cracks.
Email systems. Use a schedule to check email, write emails, and file emails.
Hiring systems. Follow a consistent process for finding, screening, hiring, and onboarding new hires.
Cleaning systems. Develop a routine that allows you or a third-party service to clean your office space.
Scheduling systems. Create a system by which people can find available times on your calendar and schedule a meeting with you.
Meeting systems. Come up with a plan for taking notes during meetings, creating actionable steps in that meeting, and following up on the executive of those steps.
Accounting systems. Work with a bookkeeper or accountant to efficiently process receivables and payables.
Travel systems. Streamline the process of scheduling, finding airline tickets, arranging airport pickup, and reserving accommodations.
Systems are the ultimate method of turning a struggling business into a well-oiled machine. You can systematize virtual anything in your business. Every single system has the potential to reduce your mental load, free up time, overcome hurdles, and enhance your progress.
For help with the Challenges of Growing Your Business, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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