Business systems make life easier, drive profitability, and leverage your business. Many small businesses learned the importance of operating systems when a pandemic caused changes in the way they had to operate. The old way of doing things didn’t work. With safety as a priority, everything from sales and hiring to customer service, daily operations, and billing were impacted to some degree. These businesses also learned that it’s easier to modify your current systems instead of building everything from scratch.
Business Systems Make Pivoting Easier
The businesses with quality systems and technology to support them, found ‘pivoting’ was a lot easier.
Whether back-to-work plans included simple modifications, a whole new business model, or something of a hybrid approach, we are reminded that updating and documenting systems is important. Here are a few things to consider:
- Hiring people is on the rise. Training and helping them to succeed without documented systems is far more difficult.
- Getting customers back (or getting new ones) is a priority. Consistent methods to implement your strategies are important for results.
- Defining your customer experience is easy. Delivering on your promise time and again is more difficult without systems and technology to support your efforts.
Business Systems | How to Get It Done
Whether you simply need to update what you have or build them from scratch, here is some good news. You can do it while you continue to grow your business. Here’s the best way to approach it.
Set the right goal. Yes, I’m also a big advocate of setting goals! Avoid setting a goal to complete a how-to manual. It is just plain boring and overwhelming. Instead, set a goal to build systems into your business – as you are building it. You will eventually end up with a practical, how-to manual, but you’ll build profit and efficiency along the way to keep you motivated.
Take it one procedure at a time. For every system you document and implement, you will see improvements in efficiency, productivity, and profit. So you don’t need to reach the end of the project (a how-to-manual) to see results: more sales, customers, profit, control, and freedom.
Start with the most critical. Business systems, like customers, are not created equal. Focus first on the ones that impact YOUR sales, delivery, profit, and time.
When evaluating the systems in your business, you need to consider two factors. First, consistency. Is the procedure performed the same way by all involved? Second, effectiveness. Does it deliver the outcome or results you want?
For example. You have a sales system that is documented so everyone does it the same way. But if your process doesn’t help you achieve a better outcome – more sales or a higher conversion rate – then it’s consistent but not effective. In your business, you want both!
Make Your Systems Effective
Keep it simple. Procedures must be understood by those who implement them if they are to deliver consistent results. Include scripts, checklists, and samples where appropriate to help people perform the task at hand. And always take advantage of technology that is out there for you.
Include limits of authority. Procedures will explain what to do and how to do it. But some tasks such as preparing a customer quote, closing a sale, paying vendors, or resolving a customer complaint may require you to spell out how much authority others have to complete these tasks. Limits of authority empower others (with limits) so tasks get done without you while also reducing potential risks (aka bad decisions).
Here’s a common example. If quotes are needed to close a sale and timely response plays into getting the business, you don’t want approvals to become a bottleneck. With guidelines, only proposals that fall outside the parameters you set need to be held for your approval. Therefore, your quote process may include language such as “All quotes or proposals over $5,000 OR under 35% gross profit margin require owner approval”
If you really want less stress, more profit, greater freedom, and the ability to effectively pivot in the future, then make systems more of a priority. Take it one at a time and build as you grow. It’s not hard, you simply need to kill the excuses.
Get Serious About Systems
If you are serious about leveraging your business with systems but struggle with where to start and how to do it, then check out my Ultimate Systems and Procedures Guide. Designed specifically for small business owners, my step-by-step guide with templates and examples makes it easy to do it yourself.
About Joan Nowak. As a business improvement expert, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.