Most of us run our lives on a handful of systems. Between our cell phones, data planners, and email, we’ve organized ourselves, and our time. If you ever doubt the importance of these systems, think about the last time you lost your cell phone—yikes!
Yet, as important as these systems are, most don’t take advantage of what systems can do to improve their business. Not having business systems in place is actually choking your business.
Systems are simply ways of automating or structuring processes so that they can occur systematically without so much thought or attention and by more than just one person. Your business can continue to run when you’re away from your office be it business or personal related.
Figure Out What to Systematize
There are dozens of similar repetitive tasks, large and small, in your business that could be systematized. To figure out where you can apply systems, step back from your business and look at it objectively. What frustrates you?
If you’re redoing tasks that bring no particular fulfillment, you’re more likely to be frustrated. You’re going to be frustrated if you have to relearn or try to remember how you did a particular task.
Intentionally focusing on your business this way can help you spot where you should have some systems in place to ease the process of how you manage business matters and potential client (and client) relationships.
What stresses you out? Is it preparing for coaching client or resume client consultations, how you go about finalizing your resume projects, or how you prepare for group presentations for corporate clients?
Even if you know the steps by heart, systematizing at least part of these stress-inducing events offer great benefits to your business and to your well-being.
Where to Start
The first step in systematizing is to write it down. What exactly is the process you go through when working with clients or potential clients from start to finish?
If you’re struggling to get all the steps down, try approaching it backwards. Start with the end result and then determine what you did right before that, and so on, for each step.
Another way is to document what others are doing. Use your network and reach out to colleagues for support and return the favor if you can. They may be having challenges too, but in a different area.
There’s no need to “recreate the wheel” every time a specific need comes up when it’s already previously been created or optimized by others.
Often, what you document as the process is all the system you need. Meaning, the next time that stressful task comes up, pull out the your “business systems” file and save the relearning!
Make the documents you create part of a training manual that can be given to someone else when you can’t do it yourself because of your schedule or whenever you you’re away from the office and can’t get to it.
Having some kind of manual or guideline book available is often one of the most valuable systems you can build.
Figure Out If It’s Worth the Effort of Creating Systems or Business Procedures
What are the odds you’ll be doing this task again? How often does it happen during work? How hard is it to automate?
Creating checklists is easy; programming email contact list to sync with your phone contacts and automatically generate follow up emails isn’t so easy. Don’t give up! Find someone to help you figure it out.
With checklists or more involved projects, a step-by-step document (or manual) is the core of many highly successful systems.
Can you hire it out? Sometimes, the best system is to just delegate or hire it out (especially those stress-inducing tasks). Yes, you’ll need to do the work up front by carefully writing down the steps involved to ensure you achieve the results or outcomes you have in mind.
The beauty of it all is that for every process you find that could be automated with a new system, you may find another that can be eliminated altogether. Systematically reviewing your business may be the most valuable system of all!
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