One of the most often overlooked aspects of running a business is to create a system—as I mentioned in my book: you need a system, I need a system, EVERYBODY NEEDS A SYSTEM! And I’m not talking about your circulatory system, or your nervous system—indeed, the system I am talking about will make you a lot less nervous.
Creating a system is not unlike a part of mathematics called algorithms. An algorithm is a step-by-step instruction manual for any given task. In this context the task is not so much having a week of stellar sales figures, but having a week on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in the middle of January; by having a well defined set of instructions, it will be easier to leave your work at work, and, occasionally, leave frigid climates for warmer ones.
The most daunting part of creating a system is not really that daunting at all. It simply requires that you take an inventory of all the things you do at your job, including the rote, almost mechanical functions that you perform without thinking about them. Just because you don’t think about it does not mean it is unimportant. It makes the difference between your business running smoothly and having to sift through piles of post-its with basic questions scrawled all over them when you return from the Caribbean.
Having a systems binder in place also makes the process of on-boarding new hires much easier. If it is comprehensive enough, it can be used to answer any questions a new employee might have about how to handle different tasks, situations, and clients.
And systems are not set in stone; they should be constantly evolving and adjusting to reflect new experiences that you have learned from.
For example, I was at a Mastermind meeting a couple of weeks ago when a speaker was set to address the crowd in heels…on a hardwood floor. She decided to send an assistant to get a rug to stand on, making the speech she gave more about the things she was saying than the clap of her hard shoes against the hard floor. As a result of this experience, her systems manual now includes the task of checking whether or not the venue has a hard floor—and her trunk now includes a carpet in case it does.
Specific items that should be a part of any system, whether business or personal, should include:
- How does the mail get processed?
- How are voicemails recorded and replied to?
- Where do bills go?
- How do you pay vendors?
Each system I create is customized to suit the client’s individual needs. They can trust that we’ll do what we say we’re going to do, and that we’ll follow up.
If you’re thinking about creating a system for your business or personal life, start by writing a rough draft that you are not committed to. For ideas on how to do this, check out “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter. Alternatively, professional organizers are available to help you articulate your system, put it in place, and grow your business. For more information about getting help, contact me.