Founder of Successwise, business coach and bestselling author of “The 1-Page Marketing Plan.”
As a business owner, you’re probably all too familiar with the challenge of having too little time. This can be a massive roadblock when you’re trying to scale your company. You find yourself working longer hours without really increasing your income, leading you to question if you’re still on track to achieve your goals of freedom, wealth and independence.
The answer? Establish business systems for better productivity.
What is a business system?
A business system is a documented procedure that outlines how to do something in your organization to achieve your business goals. Think of it as standard operating procedures you give your employees as checklists so they can implement it even without training.
What are the benefits of creating a business system?
• Systems help you build a valuable asset. Do you see yourself selling your business one day? Even if you don’t, life happens and you might need to move on. One thing that makes companies attractive to investors is having a set way of doing things—exactly what a business process provides. Add to that a committed customer base and a guaranteed annual income and your business can be irresistible to investors.
• Systems help you scale more quickly. Time is gold. It’s the currency of productivity. Business systems don’t replace you. They augment your teams’ abilities, freeing them from much of the manual day-to-day tasks that require time and energy. With more time on their hands, your team can focus on vital strategies to help your company level up and expand.
• Systems promote consistency. The goal of any business should be to deliver a world-class experience consistently. Systems help you to achieve this. Think of McDonald’s. It’s the poster child for great systems. You can buy a burger from any McDonald’s in the world, and it’ll be the same size, same taste, prepared in the same efficient way. Systems are a super powerful way to stay consistent with your service even if you’re serving multiple customers.
• Systems lower labor costs. Automating your processes means you don’t need to think about all your business’ repetitive tasks each day. Technology has already taken care of it. There’s no room for human error. And you require a smaller workforce.
• Systems help you identify and prevent problems ASAP. A marketing problem, no matter how small, can eventually blow up. If you have systems in place, you can quickly deal with a simple issue before it becomes dire. So systems can help you to react early and manage hurdles efficiently.
What are some examples of business systems?
Virtually anything can be systematized in your business. But to give you an idea, here are some common examples:
• Emails. You can create a schedule as a reference for checking, writing and filing client emails.
• Hiring. You can systematize the process of searching, screening and hiring a new team.
• Scheduling. The right tools allow you to preset your availability for meetings, making it easier for your customers to schedule their next meeting.
• Accounting. You can get an accountant or bookkeeper for processes like documenting payables or receivables.
• Meeting. A system will enable you to write notes, create actionable steps and follow up on these processes.
• Travel. Look at the best way to simplify finding tickets, arranging pick-ups or booking accommodations.
How do you create a business system?
I believe a business develops its own automation processes over time. But if you’re new to creating an SOP, here are five basic steps to follow. I’ve implemented these processes into several high-growth businesses, so I know they work.
1. Do the pre-work.
Before you start mapping out your process, you first need to answer these three questions:
• Who’s going to do a certain task?
• What are they going to do?
• When are they going to do it?
Knowing this is super important because it will influence how you write your process.
2. Brainstorm and come up with a process.
Gather your team and determine the best method for your process. What’s your goal and gold standard?
You’ll also have to think about how you’re going to deliver the final product. Will it be via text and imagery in Google Docs? Will you do an audio tutorial? Or a step-by-step instructional video? Then, you need to identify who’s going to compile the data, design the document and film the instructional video.
3. Make sure to document your process.
The key to making your process easy to follow—even for people who are new to your company—is documenting it properly.
In my case, I ask my copywriter to document exactly how to pitch media. She takes screengrabs of each step and writes the description. My designer then creates a visual of each step. Finally, my marketing assistant compiles the copy, imagery and video examples into an SOP document that I can share with clients in a course or with new hires.
4. Implement the plan.
Now that you’ve outlined the steps of your system, start implementing them. More often than not, it’s all about following the things you have written sequentially. Doing these steps repeatedly allows you to master the routine. So, when you hire a new person, you can give them the SOP and they’ll instantly know what to do.
5. Track, evaluate and improve your systems.
Sometimes, you find better tools and ways of doing things. That’s why I’m always open to tweaking our business systems so that they remain efficient and effective. We also measure them using various key performance indicators, like expenses, revenue, profit margins and sales conversions. If the KPIs aren’t met, it shows your need to refine your processes. After all, systems aren’t set in stone; they should continue to evolve as your business grows.
Business systems are essential in building your company. With a business system, you can streamline your tasks to gain happier employees and more satisfied clients.