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Top five mistakes when systematizing your small business

In order to create an EMyth'd business, you have to create a systematized business. It's absolutely critical to the future growth and success of your business.

Why? Well, systems are essential to:

  • Building the asset that will generate the greatest ROI should you choose to sell your business some day
  • Creating the order and structure that will produce your intended product or service
  • Producing consistent, reliable results each time, every time, exactly as promised

Even before you intentionally set out to “systematize” your business, you'll probably find there are systems in place and functioning in your business right now. Think about it: everything that gets done in your business is done by following a system of some sort. They may not be effective systems, they may not be consistent, they may not be written down, but a good number of systems are already there. One might say that most businesses function with systems that exist by design or by default.

So let's say that you've decided that it's time to streamline and optimize your business functions and practices. You've decided to fully systematize your business. You know that customer satisfaction will improve, employee morale will rise, and the bottom line will increase.

If you're like most people who've read The EMyth Revisited, you were inspired to begin using systems right away. Fueled by your excitement, you thought you could turn things around really quickly with a few well-placed systems. The systematization process can be approached in a number of ways, not all of them successful. The reality of creating a "turn-key" operation is harder than it seems. We know it is. And that's why we've been coaching people to do it for more than 30 years.

There are a number of common mistakes made when endeavoring to create a “turn-key” operation. Here are five of the mistakes that come up most often from our clients:

  1. Having no strategic plan
    You’ve got to know what you’re building, why, and where you’re going with it. This should involve writing out your vision for your business and what you want to accomplish in, say, five years from now. Having that picture and a target date will allow you to plan more effectively. This, in turn, allows you to prioritize the development, documentation and implementation of systems by the level of impact on the business and the customer experience. Without a detailed and strategic plan your systematization efforts will be sporadic, haphazard, and quite possibly incomplete.

  2. Looking for “one size fits all” systems
    Everyone would like to be able to buy a set of systems that can simply be installed into their business, turned on, and make everything run! But it doesn’t work that way. You can’t take something off the shelf and make it fit your company without customizing it to your particular business, your vision, and your needs. You must make sure you’re clear about what you want your results to be and design your systems to produce those results.

  3. Not documenting your systems
    I've had business owners tell me that they're business really is systematized, it's just that the systems are all in their head. That doesn't count! Unless a system is documented, it can't be repeated properly. You may have a system that has naturally developed over time, and it works pretty well because the people who do it have been doing it that way for a long time. But if that process is not written down, how can you train others to create the same results? How do you ensure that everyone does it the same way? Documenting your processes is absolutely essential. As Michael Gerber says, “If you don’t write it down, you don’t own it.”

  4. Lack of implementation
    Peter Drucker said, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately deteriorate into hard work.” Implementation, or execution, of systems is absolutely essential in order to truly have a systematized business. Documentation alone is not enough. Yet it is at this point that most businesses tend to stall. And it isn’t just small business owners that struggle with this function. A recent study published in The Harvard Business Review shows that most large companies typically realize only 63% of their strategies’ potential value due to deficiencies in planning and execution.

  5. Leaving out quantification
    When you document your systems, you must have clearly defined and quantifiable results so that you know how to evaluate your efforts. It's the only way to truly determine if your systems are effective. Systems evaluation is an essential (but often forgotten) step in understanding your business better. By taking a good hard look at your systems and their intended results, you can determine where innovation (or possibly elimination) needs to occur. It’s been said that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it; if you don’t quantify it, you can’t fix it.

Make it happen with a team

Systematizing your business is a strategic and essential part of building your business into an asset. Building your business into one that you can sell for the greatest return on your investment isn't something you need to do alone, however. While you're ultimately in charge of the vision and direction of the business, the work of developing, documenting and implementing systems is ultimately a team effort. And effectively delegating and orchestrating the work is key to successful systematization.

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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