As a business owner, you understand commitment.
You give up your evenings when there’s work left at the end of the day.
Your weekends suffer because of that emergency that can’t wait until Monday.
Your sweat is what keeps the company moving along.
But are you committed to creating a business that truly supports your life?
In order to run your business instead of allowing it to run you, your commitment has to be more than a dedication to champion any obstacle that comes your way.
A business can only support your life when it relies on healthy systems, not on you.
You need to have a vision for your company, and then put systems in place to achieve that vision.
You have to be committed to this process – the process of being a business owner.
Make a list and get started
In order to create systems that support your life and reduce business chaos, you need to strategically plan how to create the systems in the first place.
Systematizing your business is a relatively straight forward process that involves 3 basic steps:
- Make a list of the systems you need in your business.
- Prioritize the systems that have the greatest impact or importance.
- Start documenting how things should be done.
The hardest part of the process is knowing where to start.
This was precisely the plight of my client Liz before she found her footing.
Liz owns and operates a florist shop in Northern California. What I loved about Liz right from the beginning was how much she loved the business she was in.
She’d always been in love with flowers and she could not imagine doing anything else with her time.
Her problem was that everything in her business was disorganized and she was struggling to deliver consistent quality to her clients. This was creating chaos in her business and it was spilling over into her life.
She complained to me one time:
“I know I need to systemize my business, but where do I start? It all seems so big and overwhelming and sometimes it seems like nothing is going the way I imagined it would. What should I start working on first, my inventory management systems, my staff development systems, my delivery process? How can working with flowers be so stressful?”
“Don’t worry,” I explained, “things can get better and they will get better because you are so committed to making your business work. Remember that you, and only you, can imagine how things should work in your business. You need to stay true to your vision and stay committed to making your business work as you envision it.”
As we continued discussing the systemization of her business, I pointed out how helpful it is to start with a model to base your systems development on.
Use a model for systems development
The model for systems development we use at EMyth is called Seven Essential Systems.
The seven systems are Leadership, Finance, Marketing, Management, Customer Fulfillment, Lead Generation and Lead Conversion.
This model applies to any business in any industry in any part of the world.
Liz began to understand the system development process by simply starting a list of all the systems that she would need to create in each of these Centers. Her list started out by looking something like this:
- Primary Aim
- Strategic Objective
- Financial Statements
- Cash Plan
- Operating Budget
- Employee Development
- Organizational Structure
- Position Agreements
- Recruiting/Hiring Plan
- Customer Demographics and Psychographics
- Positioning and Differentiating Strategy
- Customer Surveys
- Flower Inventory Selection
- Delivery Policy
- Customer Service
- Sales Systems
- Closing a Sale
She continued to add more detailed sub-systems to her list and then went on to prioritize them.
I suggested that she determine the level of importance by highlighting first the systems that would have the greatest impact on her customers and her internal business operations.
For example, she knew she needed a system for ‘how to answer the phone,’ but she also knew that unless her employees understood the true vision of the business, they wouldn’t understand the bigger why behind the how.
If they were just going through the motions, they would quickly lose sight of the larger experience she wanted all her customers to have.
Therefore, she chose to prioritize helping her employees understand their roles in the business before getting into the detailed, nitty-gritty parts of the job.
Surprisingly, once Liz started to work on clarifying the big-picture for herself and her people, they actually started to take more ownership of their job duties, started to perform better and started to achieve much better results!
Another option is to start by creating a list of systems to develop based on the various departments in your business, such as Finance, Operations, Admin, etc.
You can then go on to determine who can help you with your systems development, and how your systems might need to change over time in order to stay relevant.
However you approach your systems development strategy, remember that all of the little systems that make up your business need to serve the overall vision you have.
Documentation drives innovation
Committing yourself to systematizing your business and developing a systems strategy is important not only because it helps you document how to do things in your business, but also because it helps you discover opportunities to make things better!
I was surprised at how many new ideas Liz had to improve her business when she started to create her business systems strategy.
She did not just clarify and document her systems; she re-imagined and reinvented many of them!
By defining all of the systems in her business, she had a detailed snapshot of exactly how her business should work.
When you look at the inner-workings of your company from 10,000 feet, you can create and re-work your business systems to truly support your life and reduce business chaos.
This might just be the most productive resolution you can make this year.