If I suggested we talked about systems and processes in your business, what would be your immediate reaction?
My guess is that it would NOT be a reaction of excitement!
Let’s face it, systems and processes generally make us think about things that are slightly dull, fairly monotonous, perhaps a bit regimented, and maybe even boxing us in. They’re all very computer says no!
So, they’re not something that tend to get us excited or enthusiastic.
And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s very easy to put off creating more systems and processes in your business.
However, I want to talk to you today about what an incredible impact systems and processes can have in helping you to actually grow your business and move it forwards.
And there are a few distinct reasons for this. The most obvious one is that having clearer systems can actually save you a huge amount of time.
Rather than having to constantly reinvent the wheel when you’re doing something, having a system that tells you what to do, and when to do it so that you don’t have to try and remember that stuff, means that you will save a lot of time.
You will also save an awful lot of mental space because you’re not having to constantly remember things like …
“How soon am I supposed to follow up with that person? … What am I supposed to be doing next on that piece of work? … Where am I supposed to be going over the next few days?”
Systems allow to you to stop all of those questions from spinning around in your head as you’re constantly trying to remember the 18 bazillion things that you’ve got to do in your business over the course of the week, or the month or even the year.
Systems are also a great way to make sure that you don’t forget things because when you’ve relying on your memory there’s a very real possibility that things just get forgotten and they fall down the gaps.
Systems are far more reliable than humans!
But let’s be clear first off, that a system or a process does not need to be anything complicated.
Yes, there are IT systems out there and you might want to think about things like cloud software for your accounts. Those are brilliant systems that really help you to stay in control of your finances.
You might also want to have a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) in place for your customer data and for keeping track of your prospects. And you may use something like Trello or Asana to help you plan and manage your workload. They’re also brilliant. Or Toggl – great for keeping track of the time you’ve spent on client projects.
There’s no shortage of fantastic systems out there. But, at the same time, a system in your business might be as simple as an email template.
There are two key areas of your business where systems can really help you to become brilliant at the basics so that you have solid foundations in place. These systems will make sure that all the day to day nitty-gritty ‘stuff’ gathers its own natural momentum, it becomes easy, it becomes predictable, it stops being so time consuming. Which frees you up to spend time on the other juicy stuff!
1) Your business management processes
This is about your general day to day organisation. These processes or systems could be as straightforward as fixed, regular diary time to work on key business activities.
It could be a routine 30 minutes or an hour every single week to work on your business’ finances, planned in on the same day at the same time every week. That’s a system.
Now I know that might sound pretty dull, but by spending half an hour or an hour on this every week, you can stop the cycle of needing to take 3 hours or six hours or maybe even 3 days once it all suddenly becomes desperately urgent. This manages your time in a far better way. That’s a system.
The other advantage to this kind of approach, besides better time usage, is that this regular focus on your finances will make sure that your invoices go out far more efficiently. They’ll go out bang on time every single time. And that’s likely to mean that they get paid faster.
If you’re then checking on those invoices once a week, you’ll also notice very quickly if anything is overdue and then you can deal with that quickly, which again gets you paid sooner.
Taking your system one step further would mean creating a defined credit control system. So that as soon as an invoice is overdue you’ll know exactly what to do.
Your process would tell you how many days you should take to follow them up, which contact method to use, and what to say or to write etc so that you banish all of the usual uncertainty and the worry about whether to chase and how to chase and when to chase.
For instance, you might define your process to say that you always chase two days later via a polite phone call and then seven days later you send an email, 14 days later you send a letter etc.
That’s just a standard example, but you can see from that the simplicity of a system. A system that keeps telling you what to do next so you don’t have to worry about it, think about it or decide upon it. And your whole business operates much more efficiently as a result of that.
Another example could be your own marketing. If you’re one of those classic people who tends to squeeze your marketing in around everything else and it’s constantly the last thing on the list, then put some regular time into your diary.
Use that time to create your marketing content for the next week, the next month, whatever works best for you. And spend some of the time getting some clarity in terms of exactly where you’re going to market, how you’re going to market, and how often, and then focus on that once a week to make it happen consistently.
That small change to your weekly organisation could really help your business consistently grow.
So that’s the first crucial area: your own business organisation and growth plans.
2) Delivering consistent service
The second really key area is your customers and the delivery of your product or service.
To give you a really simple example here, I have a template email that I send to every brand new customer. In the past I created an individual email for each customer. It would all be very personal and very marvellous, but sometimes it would take me a few days to get around to it because I needed to find 45 minutes or something like that to dedicate to drafting this fabulous email.
So I had a gap in my service.
Whereas now I have a standard email and it’s got lots of really useful information in so that I never ever forget anything. In it I confirm all the dates we’ve agreed, the key details of my terms and conditions, the cancellation options, workshop dates through the year and the whole process that we will follow as we work together.
Through having this template I’m actually able to deliver a much, much better service to my customers because I know the email includes every single bit of information that I want to give them, and that it’s explained in the best way.
The real beauty here is that sending this email now takes me 5 or maybe 10 minutes to send, rather than the 45 minutes it used to take. Which means I’m likely to get it done a heck of a lot faster. So there’s much more consistency in my service there as well.
So, I hope you can see now that systems and processes can be a great way to build some consistency into your business. By creating more regularity and routine you increase the calm and control in your business so that nothing feels quite as slapdash as it sometimes does when you’re working by the seat of your pants!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog and found it useful, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Tell me about your own processes or any challenges that you’ve got with them. Hit the like or share buttons. That would be fab! And also of course, feel free to share this with anybody else who you think would benefit.