When my clients first come to me, they are in varying stages of their businesses. Most clients are in the start-up phase, but others are in the growth phase, or what I call stability phase. A few have been in business so long that they have reached a stagnant phase. What is common to all these business owners is an underlying theme of needing help with their business operating systems.
Some business owners know they need systems and have begun the process of at least mentally capturing the way they want to operate. Others are just out there hustling and drumming up business and figuring out how they will run their business on the fly. Of all the clients I work with, the most efficient and successful ones have solid systems in place and are consistently following them. Their systems are documented, reviewed on a regular basis, and tweaked when they need adjustment.
Call me a systems freak, but I live and die by systems. When something in my client’s business is not operating smoothly, I am the first to raise the flag. When there is no system at all, I am the one that cries “Stop, we need to have a system.” I also understand that not everyone is systematic like me. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum.
At one end are the business owners that can’t create nor follow a system. At the other end are the business owners that love systems and have one for everything. Most people are somewhere between the two extremes. They have trouble creating a system but can follow it once it is created for them, or they can create a system, but they struggle to stay consistent. I meet my clients wherever they’re at.
One thing I can say is that I’ve never had a client disagree with me about the need for systems in their business. Even when they don’t have any, they know they need them. Or when they have systems in place, they know some of them aren’t working well. Having solid business operating systems in place and a team that follows them will drive your efficiency, productivity, and scalability. These business systems will help build your brand, your reputation, and your company culture.
So where do you start? What is the #1 step to building solid business operating systems?
Build a Business Map
A business map is a big picture look of your entire business broken into sections and subsections. It includes all the actions you take in your business on a regular basis. Your business map covers every operational area of your business and can be captured in a list, chart or mind map.
Your business map acts as your guide to evaluating all the systems in your business. It should show you what areas need systems, what systems are already working well, and which ones are limping along but could use some adjusting. A business map will even force you to look at areas of your business you might currently be ignoring. It will help you create business goals for what you need to focus on.
You can create a business map manually by getting out a big piece of paper and different colored markers, or you can use an online tool like Mindmeister to create your map. Start by identifying all the different areas of your business. For example, you probably have at least some of these areas, probably even more.
- Financial Management
- Client Management
- Business Management
- Content Management
- Product Development
Within each of these areas, you have any number of business activities that take place. For instance, in content management, you have your website, blog, newsletter, online articles and any other type of content you need to develop and manage for your business.
The more comprehensive your map, the easier it is for you to evaluate your current systems. Once you have your business map in place, you can then put your strategy in place to develop systems you don’t have, changes ones that aren’t working well, and eliminate some if necessary. Without your map or structure in place, it is very difficult to take a “systematic” approach to building solid business operating systems.
While creating your business map is just the first step to building your operating systems, it is the most organized step you can take in the right direction. It will always be there as a guide to developing, building and restructuring your business.
The #1 Step to Building your Business Operating Systems
June 11, 2018