I hear it time and time again from my clients. They tell me “I’m finally ready to admit I need systems, but now I’m stuck. I’m just so overwhelmed at the idea that I don’t know where to start.”
Maybe you feel this way too. You’re in the right place.
For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about creating the team member of your dreams – someone who can come alongside you and take important work off of your plate so you can focus on growing your business. We’ve talked about building a relationship with your new team member so you know what she’s capable of doing for you and so she consistently makes your work her priority.
We’ve been talking about adding a team member… but we’ve really been talking about scaling your business.
Scaling your business means growing a team so you can increase your impact and expand your reach. Building a team allows you to scale your business without going crazy in the process. See the connection? Now it’s time to take the next step.
It’s time to…
Visualize how your company’s systems fit together so you can look at your organization with the vision and perspective of a CEO.
As a business owner with a small team (or no team) your focus has been task and process oriented. This means you constantly look at the next thing in order to get everything accomplished and you find it difficult to step back and consider the big picture. That’s fine for where you are, but when you’re ready to scale you must challenge yourself, shift your perspective, and review your business as a whole.
May I suggest an exercise that will help you? Think of your business as an ecourse and your systems as lessons within that course. Think about how each system fits within the mission of the organization as a whole just as you would consider how each topic supports the purpose of a course.
Then start building and creating your systems in an organized manner, step-by-step. Let me show you.
Step One: Define modules for your ecourse.
Start by creating larger buckets for your business activities and allow these to become the “modules” of your personalized business ecourse. This step is easy – because you probably already know the larger categories your work naturally fits within.
For most of you, the modules to consider include:
- Financial Activities
- Client Management/Experience
- Administrative Activities
You may have some others as well (such as product development) or may wish to subdivide a few for clarity (pulling blogging out of marketing and making it a category of it’s own for example). The point here is to create large buckets to organize yourself and make your systems easier to create and understand.
Step Two: Put your lessons (workflows or systems) into the proper bucket (module).
Now, I want you to identify the tasks you do regularly within your business and put them into the correct category. (Don’t overthink this. There’s no right or wrong way to organize things in your business. Just go with what works for you.)
So, let’s try a few:
- Writing copy? I’d probably consider this marketing.
- Answering a client question? Client management.
- Invoicing? Financial activities.
See how easy this is? Of course, you might have some tasks that feel really unique… things like shopping for raw materials (which I’d consider operations) or creating snapchat graphics (feels like marketing to me). Just use your intuition and put each task in the bucket that seems to be the closest fit. It’s YOUR company…you get to make the rules. 🙂
Step Three: Celebrate your successful systems.
Someone wise once said “Life is short. Stop and celebrate the little things.” This step is all about praising yourself for the amazing systems work you’ve already completed before you go any further.
You see, I’m confident that you already have a few (or more) documented workflows in your business and you use them to serve your clients, publish your blog posts, answer client emails, send invoices, and lots of other daily tasks. But perhaps you didn’t recognize them until now. And, you probably didn’t celebrate them, right?
Well, it’s time to party! Go through your list right now and make note of the systems you already have in place. Celebrate them in some way….and pat yourself on the back. You’ve done good work!! Sure, you might need to refine your documentation a bit here or there, but that’s easy!!
Step Four: Create the systems you need to fill in the blanks.
I see many business owners struggle with this step because they try to create too many systems and too much documentation for part of their business. In trying to “do things right” they end up creating complex processes where simple ones would work best. They get stuck and overwhelmed just by making this step bigger than it has to be.
Here’s where the ecourse concept is so powerful. An ecourse focuses on filtering out minor points in order to teach the most important concepts to the people who wish to learn. Realizing that you can’t teach EVERYTHING helps you narrow your focus to the most relevant part of information on a topic.
This is the perspective you need for creating systems.
Not every task in your business needs a system. Some workflows just aren’t very important. Some variations can be eliminated from the mix until they become more common.
Most importantly, your team members don’t need a system for every conceivable task they may encounter during your work together. They just need simple systems for the most important tasks they complete repetitively over time.
So, build those systems. Fill those gaps. And complete “the systems ecourse” for your business in a way that is simple and easy for new team members to understand. 🙂