Creating a business that is successful requires that you build structure into it; putting in place business systems that improve productivity and maintain quality.
Every part of your business—be it the shop floor, the warehouse or the back office—is part of a greater system that can be improved by applying the right principles.
What are business systems?
Business systems, in this instance, refer to documented processes and procedures that you follow to run your business on a day to day basis. This can be anything from how an incoming lead is managed to how a new client relationship is set up for success.
Setting up business systems is often seen as a non-customer facing task that can be taken care of when there isn’t such a premium on time. The reality is that the latest client acquisition is much more upfront and necessary. For this reason, business owners don’t always give establishing systems the attention it deserves.
But while you may be able to adequately manage all the different situations faced when you’re a brand new startup, there comes a point when you have to put the right business systems in place to achieve and maintain the momentum needed for sustainable growth.
What are the benefits of establishing business systems?
Reviewing and documenting your systems gives you the opportunity to take a step back and look at your processes objectively (even when presented in its simplest form as a flowchart). It gives you the opportunity to identify areas within your business that can be standardised, automated, merged or perhaps even removed altogether if they no longer serve a purpose.
Implementing business systems comes with many other benefits too. In my books, the headline ones include:
- An alignment of all parts of your business to your high-level goals
- Improved and consistent business outcomes
- Client experiences that always match (if not exceed) their expectations
- Costs that are rationalised/reduced
- Non-productive time for new hires is minimised
- An increased focus on value-add activities and continuous improvement
Where to start when implementing business systems?
With the right tools and team members, you can set up a system for any aspect of your business. In the online small business environment, however, implementing key systems can include:
Where are you going to market your brand?
How will you collect leads?
Do you have a system for your digital marketing?
Do you have landing pages designed to maximise conversions?
What is your content creation and amplification process?
Product sales and delivery
How is your product or service delivered to the client?
How will you invoice your clients and collect payment?
Do you have follow-up email campaigns set to trigger when your customers take specific actions online?
What system will you use to keep track of sales, inventory and expenditure?
Client onboarding and support
How are newly acquired clients onboarded?
Do you have a standard welcome and check-in process?
What customer support are you going to provide and how is this going to be delivered consistently and to a high standard?
How do you plan to ask for and collect feedback?
Staff hiring and training
What background and context will all new hires need coming into your business?
What do new team members need to know to deliver on their responsibilities specifically?
Are recurring tasks well documented?
Do you have a policy around the use and sharing of secure passwords?
Do you have a preferred task management tool and/or style?
How will you track performance against objectives, how often?
When starting the process of setting up your business systems, consider the following steps:
- Consider tasks that have a high impact and happen often
- Take inventory of the steps involved in performing those tasks
- Identify opportunities to batch or simplify tasks
- Identify tools that will facilitate the automation of tasks
- Document the process – straight up Google Doc, flow charts, Trello boards, videos – take your pick… they all do the job.
Any business that wants to grow needs to have all the necessary building blocks in place. This means all key activities need to be converted into standardised and documented systems or processes with steps that can be repeated by everyone on the team.
Approaching your business this way gives you the possibility of scaling up.
To discover four other low lying fruit-type opportunities for better business systems and processes, here’s another post to read.