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Growing a business can be an amazing experience. However, if you aren’t careful, things can spiral out of control very fast.
It’s why you need business systems — well-thought-out, relevant, and focused business systems — to ensure everything stays right on track.
When you’ve successfully put a system in place, you’re assured of shorter working hours, higher productivity, and greater profitability. Ultimately, your business begins to run itself and suddenly family time and events are possible.
Basically, all the right things will be checked off your list — your independence, freedom, and wealth. But before you think about getting these benefits, you need to know the basics of business systems, namely, the what, how, and why.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s your complete guide to systemizing your business.
Let’s dig right in.
What Do We Mean By a Business System?
Picture yourself dining in your favorite restaurant devouring your favorite lobster rolls or creamy moussaka, or whatever it is you love.
Now, how would you feel if you realize your favorite dish has somehow changed, and it isn’t for the better? Maybe the chef used the wrong tools or decided to experiment with the standard recipe.
Disappointed? Angry? Annoyed?
That’s exactly how your customers feel when you don’t deliver quality work consistently. On the contrary, they expect you and your team to become more reliable, or at least maintain the same standards as last time.
Every business activity — be it lead generation, accounting, bookkeeping, order fulfillment, or HR — should produce results consistently. Your job is to strategize these tasks in a way that can streamline daily operations.
But how do you do it? What you need is a methodical, disciplined, and focused approach — something creating systems can assure.
You see, a business system is a culmination of detailed procedures that outlines how business owners can do a specific job in their organization. They let your business run like a well-oiled machine, with all your business processes becoming more productive and streamlined.
As the operating standards are already in place, no training is required. All that needs to be done is following the documented checklists. It’s why they’re super useful when onboarding new people and for customer service.
The end result? Happier customers and higher profits.
I also have to point out that business processes and business systems are NOT the same. The former is a standard operating procedure, but when you make a series of linked tasks, activities, and checklists, it turns into a full-fledged system.
Why Are Systems Important in Business
A business system can be anything—course of action, procedure, process, or method—that’s designed to help you achieve a very specific result, which ultimately benefits your customers.
Think of them as the building blocks of your company. Every aspect of a business is a part of a system that can be improved or managed with greater efficiency by simply applying select principles.
Here’s a rundown of how business systems can benefit small business owners looking to scale their efforts, maintain a better work-life balance, and produce real results:
Greater Freedom Through Better Delegation
Owners have to understand when to hand over the reins to their team members. Especially since it’ll give them more time to really focus on the more important parts of the business to scale your business.
Systems can give you that freedom by letting you delegate tasks effectively. You can go on vacation or focus your efforts on acquiring new skills to build an organization without worry. You’ll have peace of mind that your work is getting done and getting done right.
And while there’s nothing off-limits when it comes to delegating, don’t go on giving up responsibilities without developing systems that produce results.
You see, every plateau of work is a different form of work. You have to try to transform each of these forms of work into a system that works effectively again (and again). For instance, you can have a dedicated system for the specific business process that workers can memorize and apply, which will help them do their job better.
Focused Talent and Better Results
As discussed above, you can build business systems on delegation — one that enhances efficiency and turns your business into that well-oiled machinery you want.
But it’s only when you delegate right will you see results. And you’re assured of better results when you match the right employees to the right tasks by allowing them to focus on what they do best. It’s why you should aim to assign team members with specialized knowledge and skills and the expertise to tasks that suit them best.
Improves Consistency and Adds Business Value
An effective business system will ensure your team produces a good product every time — even when you’re not involved. The trick here is to have detailed and sequential steps that help your employees follow the necessary procedures to produce a quality product or service.
This way, you’ll be able to enhance customer experience, improve product development, and eliminate siloed parts of your business.
Additionally, having business systems provides a tangible value, giving your company a competitive advantage over your peers. It acts as a guarantee that your business will continue to flourish even after you depart. This can come in handy if you plan to sell your business down the line.
Okay, But Does Your Business Need a System?
Many small business owners think that only large businesses with several employees require business systems. If even you share the same ideology, I have news for you: You’re wrong.
When you don’t have a business system, you aren’t a business owner — you are the business.
So if you want to scale your business, you’ll have to increase the number of hours you work, and since there are only so many hours in a day, it limits how fast and big you grow. On the other hand, you gain leverage when you automate, delegate, and systemize your day-to-day activities and functions, which ends up accelerating your overall pace of growth.
A win-win for you, right?
Let’s also analyze one of the biggest poster children for good systems: McDonald’s.
McDonald’s is currently a multibillion-dollar operation. What makes the company so interesting is that despite being run by (mostly) inexperienced and young teenagers, it manages to deliver a consistent experience.
But how do they do that?
Back in 1954, an amazing man called Ray Kroc joined the corporation whose efforts took McDonald’s to where it currently is — at the very top of the fast-food industry.
He developed operation manuals to cover every business function and activity — from hiring to product delivery to customer interaction — that allowed him to delegate management and leadership work easily. Kroc’s main aim was to assure a consistent experience to customers, which he achieved by creating a system that authoritatively transformed the employees.
It’s because of these systems that your favorite Big Mac, chicken nuggets, and large fries will always taste the same.
Even if you’re a startup, you should consider developing a system to streamline processes before you think of hiring a person, employee, or contractor. Don’t keep waiting for your organization to fall into crisis mode when everything gets out of control.
Remember, realizing the importance of a business system is a critical difference between self-employment and entrepreneurship.
Understanding the Different Types of Business Systems
You’ll find a plethora of business systems. But I consider only six of them to be core to virtually every business. You need:
If you can make these systems scalable and replicable, you’re guaranteed to make a fortune.
How to Create a Good Business System for Your Business
Now that we’ve established the importance of a business system, as well as why your business needs one, let’s figure out how you can create one.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how to build a super effective business system:
Step 1: Know Your Business Activities and Functions
Systems are versatile and flexible.
You can create one that’s tailored to suit your business requirements, but before doing that you’ll have to identify and understand the requirements. This can include sending out newsletters, getting on discovery calls, publishing blog posts, hosting a webinar, writing a guest post, and so on.
The activities, as you may have realized, can be regular or rare, but you need to know all of them to add more structure to your assistance. The best way to do this is by categorizing them in terms of business functions, namely, Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Finance.
Just keep the above three categories in mind when deciding the structure of your business. It’ll help you tremendously.
Step 2: Get Granular With Every Activity
At this stage, you know all your business requirements. Next, you have to break down every activity according to the process, tools, people, and strategies to outline the activity from start to finish.
Wondering what I mean?
Let me explain this with the help of an example.
Suppose you want to publish a blog post. This is your activity. Here’s what your activity breakdown will look like:
Of course, the above breakdown will differ from one organization to another. It’s why you should try to create a system that prioritizes and covers all (or at the very least, most of) your business needs instead of replicating one of your competitors.
Step 3: Improve Your Business System
Answer this: What do you want your system to do for you?
I want you to really think about this as figuring out the answer can help you identify ways to improve your system, which, in turn, will affect the outcomes and results.
Do you want a system that cuts down the process duration? Do you want to reduce your workload? Or do you want to eliminate bottlenecks? Maybe you want a process that lets you make more money and simultaneously controls expenses?
Figuring out what you want will help you filter your tasks until you’re left with ones that can actually help you make the best use of your time, energy, and resources.
To make this easier for you, I‘ve compiled a list of tips below:
Anything time-consuming, redundant, irrelevant, non-productive, or unnecessary tasks should be crossed out from your list. Focus on tasks that are the opposite of the adjectives I just used.
Make a list of activities that you think are important for your business. Then think about what doesn’t have to be done right away, and just defer it. This can include creating graphics for emails, hiring a Facebook ad manager, coming up with an upsell strategy, and so on.
Every business owner must automate their everyday tasks, especially if they want to stay ahead of their rivals, and your business is no exception.
You have to figure out which tasks can be automated using applications or software tools. If you’re already using a freemium version of a tool, think about whether you’ll benefit from upgrading to the paid plan.
Choosing your software correctly is equally crucial. You don’t want to own two tools for a task that can be done by one.
Think about the tasks you can delegate to your team. This should include ones that don’t guarantee the best use of your time, energy, expertise, or skill. You can also include tasks you dislike doing or ones that leave you holding your head in frustration.
Delegating tasks turning out to be a problem? You can consider outsourcing work by hiring freelancers or contractors.
You now have only those tasks that truly require your attention. But, to further boost your productivity, you can consider consolidating or batching up activities (Eg: replying to all comments on social media, scheduling all blog and social media posts, answering emails, etc.) to finish them faster.
Alternatively, you can also use the Process, Tools, People, and Strategies breakdown I explained above. This is what it’ll look like:
Not that difficult as you thought, right? You just need to focus on thinking clearly and staying focused.
Step 4: Test Your Established Theory
You now have a list of improvements and enhancements you think can help improve your system. It’s now time to test them to see whether the results are actually fruitful.
This is also where key performance indicators or KPIs come into the picture. If you’re unfamiliar with them, you can instead find out measurable factors to determine whether your system is working properly or not. This can include financial ratios, as well as profit margins, sales conversions, revenue, and expenses.
Try to keep track of crucial factors relating to before, during, and after the testing process. Things like what you started with, what you did, and how it affected the system are all vital here.
Here’s a list of a few questions to nail your testing:
To be honest, figuring out the testing process can be a little intimidating. But once you get the hang of things and have the right data, questions, and KPIs, it’ll become easier.
Step 5: Evaluate the Process and Improve
After tracking and testing comes evaluation. You can evaluate the system as a whole, or each of the four categories (process, tools, people, and strategies) individually.
Disclaimer: Be ready to deep dive into facts and results to analyze your business system. It’s the only way to improve.
Consider the following pointers to kickstart the evaluation process:
This is just a list of your questions, you can come up with your own set of questions that can help you evaluate your business system on a granular level.
Remember, business systems aren’t supposed to be set in stone. As your business grows and the environment changes, your system should always adapt and evolve with it. So keep trying to tweak and refine your system for the best results consistently.
Tyler’s Top Tip: Working smart is important when creating a business system. It’s why you have to figure out where you want to keep all the information you have and find during the process.
I highly recommend documenting your system — processes, tools, people, and strategies — using well-designed and robust tools that suit your business systems. Jotting down data on random scraps of paper will only leave you frustrated and confused.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help or Guidance
Business systems don’t have to be complicated. But if you’re having a hard time understanding the nuances of systemizing, don’t be afraid to seek help. After all, there are many intricacies to the whole shebang, which can get very daunting very fast.
Business coaches, for one, have the experience and expertise to guide you through the various aspects of your business — including creating relevant systems and maintaining a work-life balance — so that your work baby scales new heights year after year.
And while you’re at it, I recommend choosing a business coach who has actually participated in the race, and preferably, won. Someone with demonstrated experience and who understands what it takes to run and scale their own businesses as opposed to someone who simply follows a rulebook with no hands-on knowledge.
This will fast-track the whole process and help you apply tried-and-tested and, therefore, more likely to be effective strategies.
Over to You
According to Michael E. Gerber, the author of “The E-Myth,” every frustration in your business is the result of a lack of a system. In other words, you (or your employees) won’t be frustrated if you had a system that needs your business requirements effectively.
Business systems are for your business like what the Batmobile was for Batman. It can be your personalized and custom-built armor that helps you assure consistent and measurable results. I’m sure after going through the benefits and the process of creating systems, you’ll agree that it’s a task well worth your effort and time.
So start documenting and putting together your business system. Trust me, it’ll free you and allow you to expand your business — all while you deliver a consistently ‘wow’ experience for all your clients.
You got this!
Want to learn more about how to create and implement successful business systems? Download my Strategy Scorecard and I will personally provide an assessment.