As a business owner, you want to remain involved enough in your company to ensure that it never strays from the vision, mission, and values you have imbued it with. One way to do this is to build the systems your company needs to stay on track. A system is any repeatable business process that allows your business to get a consistently great result. With systems in place, other members of your team will be able to replicate the results you desire for your business.
The key words are repeatable and consistent. The systems you build need to consistently get you a predictable result. The very best business systems can be used by any member of your team who has undergone the proper training, and ideally that training is also a systematized part of your business.
Systems can be everything from the scripted sales process your call center uses to the spreadsheet your operations manager uses to sort out staff. In other words, systems consistently give you superior results while allowing you to build a business that is never dependent on any one person.
Use these building blocks to create your systems:
- Spreadsheets with built-in formulas
- Other software that automates a process for you
- Databases of key information
- Templates and samples
- “Common Question and Answer” sheets
- Step-by-step instructions
- Predictable problem areas and how to deal with them
- Camera-ready artwork
- Pre-approved forms and contracts
- A timeline or master calendar
- Online communication tools that help you effectively share information
Here’s a simple seven-step process for building systems:
- Clearly define the outcome or desired result for the system under construction. What do you want the business system to do? What is the result you want it to consistently produce?
- Find the best person in your business (or outside your business if you have access to someone better) to model your business system on. Who is the best of the best at consistently producing the result you want to achieve? Can you model their process and replicate their success?
- Observe them producing the result and stop them as they progress, writing down each of the steps they take and the order in which they take them. Whether it’s yourself or someone else, follow the highly skilled person’s progress as they produce the desired result and list the steps they take and the order in which they take them.
- Repeat step three a few times to make sure you have all the steps and that they’re in the correct order. With complicated business processes that involve interactions with other people, it usually takes several times to get a draft of all the steps down. Each time you go over it, you’re fine-tuning your documentation of the process and procedure.
- Teach the system to someone new and see if they can use the system to get the desired outcome. Nothing shows the weaknesses of a system better than getting a new person to try it out. By watching the new person use the system it’s easy to spot the steps that you didn’t notice and write down earlier. You’ll also be able to spot the steps that need more explanation.
- Make the system even easier to use by filling in the gaps with checklists, instructions, worksheets, scripts, and samples. The best way to see where the gaps really are is to pay attention to the questions and problems of the team members you’re training to use the system. It’s their fresh perspective that will give you the most accurate feedback on where you need to beef up the system.
- Simplify the system and refine it over time. See what steps of the system could be automated by building the right software or worksheet. How could you eliminate or combine steps? Is there a simpler way to get the desired result? You should not only be building systems over time, but you should also be pruning your existing systems so they stay fresh, healthy, and vibrant. Your goal is to get more from less.
David Finkel is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and courses, including The Maui Millionaires for Business. He is a successful business owner who has bought, built, and sold several multimillion companies over the past 10 years. To learn more about his tools for business owners, visit him on the Web at Maui Millionaires.