How to Create Effective Systems for Your Business
Do you want to streamline your business (or personal life) so you can be more effective with your time?
Depending on where you are at in your life and business, you may immediately raise your hand and say, “Yes, that’s me” or you may find yourself sheepishly backing away from reading the rest of this post.
Maybe you’ve tried in the past and it didn’t seem to help.
Maybe you’ve tried but suddenly everything became too complicated, complex, or it simply didn’t work.
Maybe you haven’t tried because it seems like too much work or you simply haven’t had the time.
I get it. I’ve been where you are. I understand this may sound crazy for me to admit, but it’s true.
You see, I started my business with my newborn baby. I started out slowly and only worked a few hours a week. We had done the math and any income I would bring in would be supplemental, so instead of jumping into my business with both feet, I had the flexibility to take things slow. I’d try new tools and systems and implement new things as I went along. I’d add more hours or Clients as my schedule and lifestyle allowed.
A few years later, my husband’s job shifted, as did our income, and we found ourselves in a season where I quickly needed to expand and scale my business. At the time, we had two girls (3 and 6-months old) and things were suddenly more complicated than they were before. I found myself exhausted, depleted, overwhelmed, scattered, stressed, and occasionally out of sorts with those closest to me.
My Clients always got the best of my allocated time and energy, after all, I was getting paid to support them. They received excellent support for their businesses, but my own business projects was on standby. I was unable to make any progress in my own business, and I continued to lose momentum over and over again.
I needed more time. I needed more energy. I needed to take on more Clients and increase my income, but I didn’t have any plan or system in place to make that happen, let alone happen quickly.
Why are systems so important? Will it really save time, energy, or help make me more profitable? Won’t it just slow me down?
The initial investment of time and energy seemed daunting from the beginning, these were two things that I didn’t have in excess, but also knew that they payoff would be more than worth it in the end.
I found myself overwhelmed by the very idea of the thing I needed most: systems.
I knew that implementing systems and processes would increase my productivity, provide momentum and help me scale my business. Becoming organized takes a little extra forethought, but it pays off big in efficiency.
I had very few systems or processes in place for my business, and if I did they were not documented.
When things went well, I wasn’t able to replicate them.
When things went poorly or didn’t get done, I’d chalk it up to my being too busy.
So many problems or roadblocks could have been easily avoided by introducing a simple system, including things that needed to be done around my house for myself or my family.
I was disorganized, inefficient, and there was too much to do that I simply didn’t know where to start.
I knew there were so many repetitive tasks that I could delegate, but everything was still in my head.
I was stuck doing everything myself and I knew things would never change until I took some time to get things out of my head and onto paper. I knew that I couldn’t scale my business that something had to change.
Can you relate?
After months of floundering, trying to do #allthethings, and feeling overwhelmed without an end in sight, I was able to get back on track due to one simple-fix: systems. I made my business activities my priority, re-allocated my time and energy and began to take action.
Now it’s time for you to do the same.
My objective is to take a deep dive into systems, remove any barriers that may be in your head about creating a system so you can feel what I feel: solace.
sol·ace: comfort, cheer, support and relief in a time of need or distress
Let’s talk how to create effective systems for your business.
What is a System, Automation, Process, Workflow, or SOP?
A system is a group of items, working together to synchronize as a whole. Think: synchronized swimmers. They are each independent, but when they come together they form a bigger picture and accomplish a great purpose.
An automation is taking recurring tasks, or processes and allowing technology to do these tasks rather than manual labor each time. This is valuable for cost minimization, efficiency, and productivity. Many of the best automations are those that run on the back-end of a business and are not necessarily intended to replace the interactive side of your business. The key is to select the right back-end operations to offload, such as remedial tasks, to free you up to accomplish more important tasks or tasks that require may require a personalized touch.
A process is simply a series of steps or actions to complete a goal. Processes used in tandem together can become valuable systems!
A workflow is a method typically used by teams, but you can also apply a workflow to how you structure your day. One of the easiest ways to streamline your work day is by adhering to a workflow where everyone knows their tasks, their expectations, and their goals.
SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure, which are set processes that are completed and in the same way each time. It’s a set of step-by-step instructions that can be very useful in complex situations and will help you or your support team to prevent wasted time and keep you from floundering. Instead, an SOP keeps you on a progressive track where everything is laid out in an efficient order.
What SHOULD you Systemize? What should you NOT systemize?
Systems are the way to “work smarter, not harder” and can be implemented in all areas of life. You may already have systems in place, and don’t even realize it! It could be your morning routine, the quickest route to work, creating a meal plan or doing meal prep, doing laundry on certain days of the week, gathering and sorting through all the paperwork your kids came home from school with, etc. All of these are systems that help your life flow with less stress.
When you are trying to determine what to start with, you should think of events, activities, or tasks that are recurring, require a lot of attention, or can be delegated. All of these items could qualify as something you should systemize. As it relates to your business, you may want to start implementing systems as they relate to payroll, bookkeeping, social media, content development, storing digital files, clearing off your desk, inbox management, calendar scheduling, responding to customer inquiries, etc.
While I believe many things can be improved after putting a system in place, items that are creative in nature or that happen infrequently may be things better left without the extra effort of a system.
The key here being that if your other systems are continually running well, these unusual things that pop up won’t derail your ‘everyday’ processes, because you will have freed up time to account for it!
How can you create a System?
Creating a system is fairly simple, though it may be time-consuming at first.
Select an area of your business that is currently causing you stress or is out of control, and then ask yourself what activities associated with this area of business are repetitive, recurring, or time-consuming? Do you have an idea? Great, you’ve just identified the first area to implement a system.
Now that you’ve identified an area where you need to implement a system, focus on one repetitive, recurring, or time-consuming task and write out a list of progressive steps to complete a task, in logical order. If you decide to do this digitally, you can easily move steps around or add to them as you develop your system. Consider the most efficient way to get a task done in the least amount of time possible.
Once you have your list, identify which steps of the process can or should be delegated. Are there any items you need to handle or approve? Are there any items that can or should be completed by someone else?
The most important part of this process is NOT creating the system, but implementing it and improving it. As you develop and refine your system, you’ll need to refer to your system frequently until it becomes more of a habit, but I also encourage you to regularly review any systems you have in place to see if they are continuing to meet your growing needs.
Once solidified, your new system, automation, process, or workflow could be converted into an SOP. As your business grows and expands, you will find the value and importance of documenting and implementing SOP’s in your business, especially when bringing on new team members. Keep in mind, that your new team members (new employees, contractors, and support staff) will adopt these SOP’s, refer to them, improve them, and these very systems will help you stay consistent and accountable to the vision and mission of your business and brand.
Feeling Overwhelmed? Stressed?
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