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Small Business Systems.

Small Business Systems with Henry Lopez – developing, implementing and executing on the systems we need to run and grow our small businesses. If you are an existing small business owner, then this episode will help you assess where you are and what you need to improve so that you can grow your business and step back from the day-to-day operations.

  • Developing Business Systems is a big topic and often cited as critical to developing a more self-managed business. It’s important to have systems in place to help you run and grow your small business. It’s part of what the author Michael Gerber is referring to when he talks about working “on” your business and not just “in” your business, in his classic book – which all business owners should read – The E-Myth.
  • Systems are what allow you to grow, because it’s the only way to delegate effectively, develop your team, and execute consistently on what you do – whether it’s making something or providing a service. At our businesses, for example, it would be impossible to consistently deliver on our promise of remarkable customer service if we did not have systems in place – including our employee training and customer service systems.
  • One of the areas we tend to struggle with as business owners is the development of our systems. We either don’t believe we have the time, or it may not be something we believe we are good at. So we continue to operate in crisis or chaos mode, and then wonder why our quality is poor and our employees are not happy – and we have having to work such long hours in the business long-after our start-up phase. Why you can never take any time away from the business without it seemingly falling apart! The lack of systems is what leads to a breakdown in our execution as a business. And it certainly constrains our ability to grow our business. Of course, it’s what also leads to burn-out and a complete dissatisfaction and disappointment with our business.
  • What is a system? It can include:
    • Software Tools – like a POS, Task Management Tools, Email and related tools like electronic Calendars, Google’s tools like Google Drive and Docs. It can also mean software solutions like QuickBooks or other financial accounting systems.
      • At a minimum, you will need:
        • A Financial System like QuickBooks to manage your business financial transactions.
        • And you may also need team collaboration tools and other communication systems.
      • But software tools are not enough. We need procedures and policies to complete our small business systems. This includes all of the documentation of who, how and when we do things in our business and for our customers and clients.
      • A system does not need to be a complex thing and does not even need to include expensive technology. A checklist, for example, is a great example of a simple system that can allow you and your team to execute consistently on a particular procedure. Do you have checklists for your staff to follow when they perform procedures or tasks that should always be performed the same or close to the same way? Do you have a paper checklist for them to use?
    • How do I know if I need to improve my systems?
      • Here are some questions to ask yourself or your managers, to help you determine how “systemized’ your business currently is:
        • Are repetitive tasks or procedures always completed in a slightly different way? Sometimes drastically different depending on who is doing it?
        • Is most of the knowledge of how to do things in your head or in the heads of a few key employees? If your staff always dependent on you or a senior person on your staff for directions on how to complete a task or how to perform a task?
        • When a new employee is hired, do they have a formal training process or do they just have to shadow another employee for their training?
        • When a new employee is assigned a routine task or procedure, do they have written steps to follow?
        • When you are not in the office, are people waiting for you to perform routine tasks or to make basic decisions?
        • If one of your senior employees left tomorrow, what would happen to your business? Would they walk out with all of the operational knowledge in their heads?
      • Where do I start?
        • Don’t try to do it all at once! Where is there the most pain? Or what are the repeatable tasks? What are the tasks that I am doing now, which add little value to growing the business but which must get done, and that I can document and delegate to someone else?
        • Start with the things that are repeatable. They are always performed more or less the same way. Like opening your business for the day, for example, or how to process and pay an invoice.
        • Start with simple checklists or outlines of the process, procedure or policy.
        • Delegate the drafting of procedures and policies to those who are currently perming those tasks. And also document as you go. (Example, documenting how this podcast is produced).


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