5 Practical Ways to Easily Systemize your Business

In this post, learn why you should systemize your business, the #1 stumbling block to creating systems, 5 easy actions to start systemizing now, and where to get expert help developing your systems.

Why Should you Systemize your Business?

Productivity. Efficiency. Consistency. When you optimize your business operations, your company and revenue grow more smoothly. Systems help you scale easily and seamlessly because they provide proven structure that works. They allow you to avoid the common growing pains experienced by companies who don’t use effective systems.

Simply put, systems are your methods, policies, and procedures. They are instructions that turn everything you do into a repeatable standard. Even simple types of systems can yield phenomenal results. By just defining one process today, you will start launching your business to even greater heights.

“Systems and processes are important because they allow people to perform tasks more efficiently. They help everyone find information and items faster, and they allow groups to work together without wasting time.”Reference.com

Anything performed in your company at least twice needs a proven system. Anything performed three or more times should be automated. Some common business systems include lead generation, prospect follow up, social media marketing, client onboarding, employee recruiting, inventory management, and money inflow and outflow.

When you create and define methods that people can replicate, you are implementing systems. Many people incorrectly assume systems must use technology and must be expensive. In fact, the best systems are those that are simple and consistently followed. While consulting to Fortune companies, I saw major investments of time and resources into expensive technology systems, only to witness employees still rely on basic spreadsheets to do their job.

Use the simplest system needed for your business.

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For example, if using a simple excel spreadsheet to track your prospect follow- up works for you and your team, then that’s your system. There’s no need to invest in complicated CRM software until you outgrow the tracking and reporting capabilities in excel.

What’s the #1 Stumbling Block for Building Systems?

Control. I see this often with my clients who are constantly struggling with control versus growth. They claim they want to grow, but still cling tightly to control. At some point, you must choose because you can’t have both. Business owners who continue to do everything themselves without systemizing will hit a growth ceiling. At some point, there isn’t any more time in the day to work harder or longer. You HAVE to let systems do some of the work FOR you or you will hit a plateau.

It might feel scary at first to give up some control and let others do tasks you have done in the past. Realize that your company will have more value when it does not rely only on you to do the work. You will also have more time to focus on the actions that truly grow your company and revenue. It’s always more beneficial when you focus on activities that are the highest and best use of your time.

5 Easy Actions to Start Systemizing Now (Checklist)

I was so excited when I created the free report 100 Proven Systems You Need to Boost Results. I assumed everyone would immediately use the report to add more systems in his or her business and gain back free time. What I found was surprising.

Even though the report was a two page infographic with the systems grouped into five main business areas (sales, marketing, money, team, and operations), I was getting the same feedback. People loved the list, but felt overwhelmed and unsure where to start.

I graciously accepted that feedback and created a new report, Top 5 Systems that Create Massive Productivity in Your Business. I invite you to download that report and use the checklist below to help you start systemizing now.

1. Create a List of Functional Business Areas in your Company

It can be daunting to systemize everything at once in your business. Let’s break the effort into smaller chucks so it’s more manageable. Start by creating a list of all of the high level areas in your company that need systems. These are the main categories I recommend, but feel free to be more detailed if needed:

· Sales (products, pricing, etc.)

· Marketing (lead generation, social media, etc.)

· Money (income, expenses)

· Team (HR functions, management)

· Operations (front and back office activities)

2. Identify the Category Causing the Most Pain

Using the above list, identify which high level area is sucking up the most resources in terms of time, money, and energy. That’s what you should systemize first. Are you constantly getting pulled into matters that aren’t the highest and best use of your time? Are you repeatedly addressing the same questions or reinventing the wheel over and over? Those are ideal areas that need a consistent system because they are causing inefficiency and waste in your business.

3. Inventory and assess current systems for that category

Once you identify the first area to systemize, go deeper to create a master list of subsystems in that category and then assess each one. For each subsystem, simply assign a rating. Is the system good, broken, or missing? For example, in marketing you might have subsystems for social media content creation, social media posting, networking follow-up, press release creation, etc. Each one of those subsystems should be given a candid assessment of how well it’s systemized.

A good system in your organization may be a common database for all your product vendors, an end-of-day closing checklist, and paid time off procedures for your staff. Systems like these will help your company operate more smoothly.

A broken system may be when only one person knows that a certain system exists. Worse yet, it may be where multiple people are following their own system so there’s no standard process across your company.

A missing system is a gap leading each person to create his own process because none exists. Or, it may be where a recurring task is done manually every time instead of leveraging templates or automation. For example, there should be a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document available to be sent to prospects or posted on the web site instead of hand typing a response by email for each request.

As you can see, systems can be very simple. Imagine the amount of minutes and staff dollars you will save in one year’s time by having a FAQ document ready to send. And, that’s just one example. Take the time now to systemize just a few things and enjoy the benefits forever.

4. Only Document Procedures when Necessary

Remember that you are creating systems that are intended to simplify, not complicate, your business. Don’t over-document processes and claim you ‘systemized your business’. 

Systems are more than a policy and procedures manual.

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David Finkel , co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back, wrote in Inc. that even business owners who understand the value of systems often have trouble implementing them in a valuable way. “You push to start ‘systematizing’ your business, writing out processes and procedures,” he said, “but all you seem to get is a ‘policies and procedures’ manual that is universally ignored in your company.”

Not every process needs to be written in a company manual. Use common sense to balance documentation with implementation. Many times policies and procedures manuals are not very useful, except within the first 30 days of employment. Keep things simple and document only the most important and/or complicated processes that must be communicated.

5. Repeat the Process with Another Functional Area

Now that you have a ‘system to systemize’, repeat the process for the next painful area of your business. Here are some examples of additional systems that make a big impact as you continue to add more structure to your company:

· Product launch

· Product delivery

· Client appointment scheduling

· Client appreciation touch points

· Email marketing

· Project management

Bonus Tip: Build Ongoing Improvement into your Systems

Every quarter, review your current systems to ensure they are running optimally. You should also do a more granular review annually. When your systems become stale, people start ignoring them. It’s critical to maintain focus on your investment in systems so you can continually improve your business.

You will LOVE how systems put more ease in your business and your personal life. Systemizing takes some implementation effort up front, but then you ‘simply set it and forget it’. Take the time to add just a few new systems in your company this month and enjoy the additional time they create for you to really focus on the most important things.

Nancy Gaines

Nancy Gaines is CEO/Founder of Gain Advantages Inc. and has been advising small businesses and Fortune 100 companies how to increase revenues through proven systems for almost two decades. She is a best-selling author and international keynote speaker. Nancy has been named in the Top 100 Productivity Experts to follow on Twitter and has a global podcast downloaded in over 95 countries. Her main focus is creating business processes with actionable steps so her clients achieve more consistency, ease, and ultimate success.