From multimillion dollar organizations to tiny startups, many businesses deal with the common challenge of creating simple business systems and end up over complicating the process. In our personal lives, we can create complications (from money to relationships). Many of these habits are deeply rooted in our past. As a result, when we enter the business world, particularly into business for ourselves, that same natural inclination occurs.
In business it is easy for seemingly simple things to become overly complex since we have many factors at play: clients, employees, business partners, budgets and time constraints. So, when it comes time to set up business systems or process, our intentions are good. We intend to focus on being more efficient, to maximize resources and streamline operations. Yet this is easier said than done.
Creating Business Systems
Often entrepreneurs resist setting up business systems because even the thought of doing so feels overwhelming (or as if it will stifle creativity). Nothing could be further from the truth.
Systems do not have to suck out all of the fun from your business, nor should they be complicated. Success is dependent on your ability to create systems that are simple — systems that people actually want to use.
Here are five steps every business owner can take to set up effective business systems:
Determine core goals.
All systems should be set up with an eye on the core goal. If any step in the process or the system does not support the goal – rethink that step.
Get back to basics.
When systems start to get complicated take it back to basics. As the leader, you need to make decisions that make everyone’s life easier, not harder. For instance, if that online project management system is creating a problem, maybe you need to go back to a spreadsheet. Your systems (and technology) should be designed to meet you and your team’s needs and not the other way around.
Cut the fluff.
Do your new systems feel like overkill? If so, they probably are. Every business system should be assessed from the perspective of “is it completely necessary to meet the goal?” Systems for the sake of systems results in frustration. Unless there’s a solid reason for it, feel free to ditch it.
Add in some fun.
Systematic thinking gets a bad wrap. So, consider how you can build personality into your systems. One way to start is to incorporate your brand principles into your systems and bring your company’s core values to life! For example, maybe your customer follow-up system has some quirky “quotes” that make your customers smile. Or your accounting systems have creatively named categories on your expense tracking sheets. A little whimsy that reflects your brand can make boring tasks more colorful.
Don’t forget about your clients.
As much as business systems are seen as a back office function you don’t need to build them that way. In fact, your client–who the system should benefit–should be at the center of your planning. For example, if you are setting up a booking system for your clients, you want to make sure it is extremely easy for them to use. Building a system that only serves internal needs is doomed to fail.
Using Your New Business System
The key to success is to keep simplicity in mind and resist the urge to layer extra work in for yourself and our team. In the spirit of keeping it simple and moving things forward, take out a single sheet of paper, open up a word doc and simply jot down a business process that is currently driving you nuts (or refer to a system you have previously documented).
Now put your system to the test with these five checkpoints:
- Does the process we outlined help us meet our end goal?
- Are we accomplishing the goal in the simplest way possible?
- Is there any fluff? If so, how can we cull it back?
- Would I want to work for a company that does business this way?
- Will my customer be pleased with the result of this process?
If you can answer yes to all of the questions above, you are on your way to mastering business systems simplicity and bliss. Solid systems offer you a way to increase profit margins, have happier clients and team members, and increase efficiency in your business, making it well worth the time to streamline them starting today.
Amber McCue is the CEO of Nice Ops, a business consultancy that works with entrepreneurs to help them go from startup to CEO with leadership development and business coaching. She has over 10 years of experience working in business and change management with Fortune 500 companies. You can sign up for the Get Efficient Prioritization Workshop by clicking here.