“Small businesses don’t work, the people who own them do”
Michael Gerber, Author of the E-myth (one off my recommended reading list).
I certainly am an advocate of having systems in your business. With good systems and processes, you are able to build your business so that it may run independently of you and generate the income you need, without you working every hour.
A business system or process is an activity or set of activities that will accomplish a specific organisational goal.
There are many reasons for having systemised processes in your business. Here’s a few:
- Put your team in charge
- Free up your time – and give your life back
- Step back & work ‘on’ the business
- Test new ideas – and improve everything around you
- Do everything the best way
- Help induct new people to get up to speed quickly
- Replicate and grow
- Minimise costs due to manual errors & inefficiency
- Attract a buyer
- Streamline your communications
- Induct people quicker and with a structure
- Drive accountability in your business
- Improve the ability to scale quicker
- Increase the value of your business
So how do you consider what systems to create and then how do you go about creating them?
Firstly, Think of a business as a series of systems and each system has a role, a purpose within that business – otherwise it should not be there. Then consider that each system in your business has an objective and that the key is to measure how effective each system is at achieving its objective.
Systems can be created with 6 keys steps:
- List the systems – Leadership, Operational, Marketing, Customer, People, Finance, Administration,
- Classify the systems – a core or support system?
- Map each system – how would it flow? what is happening now and does it have to?
- Analyse each system – efficient? any waste? impact achieved?
- Document each system and allocate responsibility
- Implement each system – notify and train the team, feedback,
Here are the headline steps I would recommend:
Start with the end in mind
Firstly, think about the output. What are you looking to achieve by creating this system? What impact will it make? Then consider the processes and various elements needed to deliver that outcome. Once you know the core element of the system, then what inputs do you need and who from? It may be data from your internal team or information from an external provision such as the customer or your suppliers.
Map out your business and prioritise which systems to tackle first.
Start by building out your process map. A process map is a way to show what steps are required to transform inputs to outputs. It is a means by which we can identify the relationships between the resources we have, the tasks they perform and the dependencies between tasks. This will help you to clarify how all parts of your business come together to deliver your operational excellence. When listing out your systems for the various areas of your business, give each a score based on how complete the system is at this time. For prioritising, then also consider how important the systemisation of that part of the business is against others. This will give you a good idea of where to start. However, there may be a natural flow. For example, the marketing system may need to come before the sales system before the delivery system?
Create your standard procedures
Then consider what you already have in place and the tools that you currently use, to then establish any gaps in the process, skills or knowledge. Each of your systems may have many steps and various types. These may be made up of:
- Step-by-step processes
- Standard letters
Consider what can be automated
Many tasks can now be automated with the assistance of some fantastic apps and software. Consider your steps and which could be automated and which still need that critical human intervention or delivery.
Implement with good training
You may feel that the hard graft has been completed and the system is now finally ready to roll out. However, a poor implementation plan or bad training can waste all that hard work. With training, everyone, from your most experienced to your newest people, should be able to carry out the tasks and deliver the system without you or your intervention at any point. Systemisation of your business gives empowerment to your team encouraging them to take responsibility and authority for delivery. It is said that you can then manage your people to their ability to follow a system and use their personality and innovation to improve it.
Ask a member of the team to create the system and related processes
Asking someone else to create the system is of course great for your own time management! However, it can also help with your training of your people. For example, you show them how it is done including all the elements you would put into a system. Then ask them to write up their notes is a structured manner to suit your other operations manual. You then of course have the system written up for you, but you also check that persons understanding and the quality of your training!
Build your business so that it has the appropriate systems in place that it will generate the income you need, without you working 24/7 and generate a higher valuation as it works independantly of you.