Do You Run a Business?

See if this rings true for you.

This year in all the work I have been doing with clients and in running my own business I have been reminded of the Systems Principle. We all have systems; some better than others. Some that are as effective today as the day they were designed and implemented, others, not so much. Some are written and printed in manuals. Others are the use of a piece of software that prescribes exactly how specific things are to be done.

The Systems Principle says this:

To grow any business, it is necessary to build and implement consistent systems across the organization.

Systems allow everyone to focus on more important areas and to think about solutions to problems that, without systems, there would be no time to think or focus on anything except the day to day work of running the business. Consistent systems are those that are used across the organization in, essentially, the same way in Detroit as they are in New Orleans.

Exactly what do I mean by “SYSTEM”? Well, The Merriam Webster Dictionary, online, says that a system is an organized or established procedure. I can buy that. If it were up to me, I would say “step wise procedure” and that may be redundant because a procedure is a set of steps in some definitions.  The point I would like to share is this:

The kind of systems we are talking about is a set of steps that are carried out in the same manner repeatedly across the organization at all locations where the operation takes place.

We establish systems or procedures or Standard Operating Procedures because the work being carried out needs to be done in a certain fashion to be effective and efficient. Another reason for systems is because the work being done requires little immediate brain power and can be done in repetition faster with the systems in place. If we must stop and think about how to do something every time, it requires more brain power and time. With a good system in place the required brain work, and time are reduced. That leaves more time to do those more important functions of planning and working directly with others. People in any business are certainly more important than the “easy” repetitive work.

An example of a system for repetitive work might be a set of procedures for engaging with a brand-new client. There may be a set of materials you want hand deliver on that first appointment. In addition, there may be a set agenda you want to go through on that first appointment. The systems would include having someone on the team be responsible for putting together that set of materials to hand you as you leave for your first appointment. And it includes a personalized agenda for the meeting with the client’s name and a brief summary of what you have learned about the future client. You leave the person on the team a brief voice mail with the things you have learned that you want to have on the agenda.

This may be a light example, but it can become more involved as you think through what you do from the time an appointment is booked with a new client until the first meeting is completed. That would be your “SYSTEM FOR NEW CLIENT MEETINGS.”

In my business I am learning that I need systems for the first coaching session with a client. I need a system for all the things I would like to learn from that new client and a set of exercises I would like that new client to go through before we meet. Based on the results there may be a consistent set of steps to expand this system to cover the first 2 or 3 sessions. That frees me from thinking about it and I can work to solve my other client’s problems.

A more advanced system may be the one you develop for managing your team or leading a team on a big project. In a system like this there may be smaller systems or procedures that make up the larger system. In this example, a system for staff meetings would define who is invited, when the meeting will occur, what preparations are required, and a detailed topical agenda for the meeting with specific responsibilities outlined for all participants. It also includes the regularly schedule time and location for the meeting.

Why are systems necessary to grow your business? If you are wrapped up in day to day operations because every time you do something it is all brand new, then you won’t have time to develop larger clients, bigger projects (cases), or be a good leader for your team.

Systems are required for any company that wants to grow!