Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from systems and operations expert, Amber McCue. Amber is the founder of NiceOps, a consultancy that works with creative business owners and entrepreneurs to help them be more efficient and get more done. Today she is giving us an insider’s look into five systems tips that the pros use to create and maintain success. Thank you, Amber, for sharing your expertise with us today! —Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump…
When you are growing a business, embracing systems is critical to success. Systems help create standards, drive efficiency and ensure a consistent experience with your organization.
While systems are critical, the tendency of most business owners, especially creatives, is to resist them or view them as something they simply don’t have time to think about. Whether you are making organic artisan soaps or running a high-end design firm, systems can make the difference between success and failure, chaos and peace of mind, or most importantly, breaking even or turning a tidy profit.
At the point you feel like you don’t have time to create systems, that’s a good signal that you likely need some.
Here are five systems secrets that the pros have mastered.
#1. Start Simple
To start creating systems, the key is to start small. Choose a system without a lot of complexities or variables to work on first.
As you start creating systems, it is important that you (and your team) are clear on why you are doing this in the first place. Systems are not being implemented for kicks, they are there to help everyone and the organization on the whole perform at a higher level.
#2. Don’t Overthink It
Business owners often fall into the trap of overcomplicating their systems. In addition to starting small, when you actually start, continually ask yourself “am I overthinking this?”
It doesn’t take much from a systems and a process perspective to have a big impact.
What’s important here is that you get the system into action. You can always fine tune it later.
#3. Set Clear Goals
Getting to where you want to go is difficult if you don’t know what you want or how to get there. Systems and documented processes provide this structure for you and your team.
As you are creating each system, having a clear goal in mind from the start will help ensure that the systems you design are effective and support actual business goals.
For example, your goal may be to create a stronger customer experience by mailing your client a gift within five days after your in-person consult.
Once you’ve defined your goal, you can determine who is going to buy the gifts, who will mail the gifts, what mail carrier you will use, when you need to finish writing the thank you cards so they can be mailed with the gifts and so on.
#4 Get Clear
When mapping out systems or processes, consider all aspects of the system from the technology, to all of the steps and who’s involved along the way.
Often systems will be considered from the point of view of what tools are used, while who is actually managing the steps is overlooked. For a system to be effective, you need to clearly lay out roles and responsibilities.
Even in the smallest business, a system can pinpoint where things may be slipping through the cracks or simply not getting done. (As a solo entrepreneur, this can be a good sign that you need to fire yourself from specific areas and seek out expert help.)
#5 Develop Realistic Timelines
Every system should include realistic timelines based on how long things actually take to get done. The natural inclination is to lowball how long things actually take to complete.
When planning systems, factor in extra time for tasks, especially when systems are new in your organization or someone new on your team may be handling them.
By creating a cushion, you are able reduce needless stress for everyone involved. Let’s say the task is supposed to be completed within 5 days, but it is really due in 7 days. Then, if things aren’t done at the 5-day mark, you’ll still have the cushion and be able to meet the deadline. That extra time can then be used to reset if something needs to be fixed or reworked along the way.
Enough Talk – Take Action
Now, that we’ve looked at the pro secrets to getting systems in place for your business, it’s time for to go pro in your business.
What system are you going to document first?
Whip out a piece of paper or pop open a Google doc and follow these steps to document your system:
1. What is the goal of this system?
2. Who will execute on the process?
3. When will this process be used and how long should it take to complete?
4. Where or in what tools will this process be executed in?
5. How will the goal be met (e.g., document the steps that need to be taken -and when – to accomplish the goal)?
Systems, while they may seem tedious, can be a great way to examine key aspects of your business, improve performance and meet your business goals. The key is to just get started. If you need more insight, you can take the CEO mindset quiz to find out where you could be more efficient and get ideas on creating stronger systems for your business.