Updated: Jul 7
Tom is the typical small business owner in North America. He is working fifty-five hours each week but making less money than he used to in his old corporate job. He feels like his business has become a ball and chain and he is not quite sure how to fix it. He needs more revenue (that would be nice!) but he is already overwhelmed with the work he has. In fact, he often misses supper with his family a couple nights every week taking care of customers or other business issues. The thought of “more of this” is just overwhelming.
Yet he knows there is a solution. He sees the evidence of it all the time. Every day Tom sees successful small business owners who make good money and have plenty of time off. Their businesses seem to run smoothly. Things get done. The employees love their work. There is a constant flow of new customers. Yet, the growth in these businesses doesn’t seem to create the overwhelm he experiences every day. Tom would love to have his business work like these companies he sees all around him, but he is not sure how to make that happen.
The truth is there are a lot of “Tom’s” in the world. Perhaps you are one of them.
If you find yourself in Tom’s shoes, I want to share with you the single biggest secret that will allow you to grow your business AND reduce your overwhelm. Are you ready? Here it is: Successful businesses are built using systems.
That is the key. Simple and straightforward … Tom needs to implement systems. You do too. When a business gets everything systematized, things move from chaos to calm. Customers get a consistently positive experience. Marketing gets results. Invoices get paid. Things happen smoothly.
Does this sound like a dream? It doesn’t have to, because systems are not that hard to develop and implement.
Let me give you six steps to help you begin to systematize your business.
1. Identify any systems you currently use.
You have them, even if you don’t know them. So sit down and make a list. Only list the ones that you think work well. For everything else, plan to start fresh.
2. Brainstorm some future systems you might need.
You will need good systems in all aspects of your company. As you brainstorm, consider systems you will need in terms of your finances, your marketing, your employees, and your operations.
3. Prioritize those systems that are most important to your company.
Which systems will make the biggest difference if they were implemented? By focusing on these systems first, and getting them into place, you will begin to build positive momentum in your company.
4. Document the systems.
Once you have identified which systems are priorities, begin documenting them. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you document just 2 systems each week and begin following them, you will document and implement over 90 systems this year, and that is with you taking time off.
A great way to document your systems is to involve your team in the process. This takes work off you and helps build ownership of systems throughout your company. Simple checklists will generally suffice. As systems are documented, your job as the owner will be to review each one to make sure they are up to your standards as the business owner.
One good tip here: I would encourage you to use a good software solution such as Process Street, Trello or even Slack for your documentation. These solutions allow your team to bridge from system concept to everyone on your team utilizing a platform that has accountability and integration into your daily workflow.
5. Train your people.
If you had your employees help write the systems, have them help in the training too. This is all stuff you can delegate. Part of this training will also involve integrating the use of your documenting software into daily use. Don’t let your company not achieve full implantation. Without implementation through training, all you will have is wasted work.
6. Develop a system for reviewing and improving your systems.
About once every year, you (or someone on your team) will want to review your systems. Your systems will not be static. They will change and evolve with your company.
The truth is that systems can transform your business. The internal daily workings of your company will be smoother. You will have less fires to put out. Your customers will be happier, and you will have more of them too! If you do it correctly, you will see those profits begin to climb. Best of all, once your team is trained and the systems are implemented, you can take a vacation. Perhaps as you are kicking back on the beach, Tom will stroll by. He has been working on his systems too.