Understanding business processes and systems.
“In order for any business to succeed, it must first become a system so that the business functions exactly the same way every time down to the last detail”
(Rick Harshaw, Monopolize Your Marketplace).
I haven’t always been interested in creating systems in my business. In fact, when faced with the question “what does the process involve?” No matter how many times I had completed the steps to a particular task, I would hem and haw trying to figure out the correct answer and steps.
Months ago, I mentioned my intention to level up my business in a mentor group and was wisely directed by many of the high-income earners to systemize my business. At first, I had no idea how on earth I would do something so great, but I set out on the journey to convert my hustle into a true business. Since then, I have become more coherent about what I do and how I do it. And my confidence level when asked about my system or processes is much improved. Now, whenever I proposition someone, I am certain to include what the process involves and how it can improve their lives or business and that helps me to be more professional and trustworthy to prospects.
First, a bit of background on what business systems are and why you need to not only define your processes but analyze and revise them until they automate your business. A process is a standard set of steps taken to complete a task. And a system, according to businessdictionary.com, is “A methodical procedure or process that is used as a delivery mechanism for providing specific goods or services to customers.” In more simple terms, a business system refers to the set of processes that help your business effectively create value for your customers. So, as an example, when creating a blog post, I use a list of steps including idea generation, keyword research, headline analysis and outlining to get to the end result. These steps have worked for me and help keep me on track to creating blog posts in a timely manner. This process is a part of my marketing system which is made up of many such processes. Got it? Good, now let’s see how having your own systems can make everyone’s lives easier.
What are the benefits of streamlining your business using systems and processes?
Now that you understand what processes are and how they become systems, let’s discuss how taking the plunge to strategically define your procedures will improve your business and your customers experience with your brand.
Have you ever signed up for a webinar with your favorite guru or started a job with a company you’ve idolized, only to be left confused and anxiously trying to figure out your next steps? You wait for instructions on what to do next, call the company but find yourself being given the runaround…TF?
I remember the time I purchased a $2000 Dell system because of the commercial in which they promised excellent customer service, but found myself so frustrated and disillusioned by the experience. Not only was the new customer transition really rocky, but the customer service team was also ill-equipped to handle the complaints that came with the system and ended up putting me on hold several times. I ended up using only about 50 percent of the features purchased and vowed never to purchase another thing from Dell. Even sadder still is the knowledge that a few weeks of preparation and planning could have empowered the employees that got yelled at to de-escalate the situation and provide the customer with answers, thus improving the overall impression of the company. I never returned to Dell, nor have I purchased anything with their logo, despite this incident taking place in the late ’90s.
These incidents happen when companies do not take the time to clearly outline and update their applications, thus causing confusion and inconsistency. If you or your company is considering any strategies for growth, then the best place to start is with your systems and further still with your processes. Practicing these methods, analyzing the results and teaching them to everyone involved in the business will help to illuminate what is working and what needs to be dissolved from your practice. Additionally, aside from making your life easier, and scaling your business, the many benefits of implementing automated systems and knowing your processes like the back of your hand are too much to ignore. Take a look at some of the benefits that businesses report to have experienced once they figured out their operations to successfully get from point A to B.
- Consistency: Have everyone on the same page, doing things in the same way so if there ever is an issue that arises ( and they always do,) you know exactly where to start your troubleshooting and what went wrong. I learned many years ago about the ISO 9000 and how they help companies systemize their processes. So, that crappy McDonald’s coffee that we all complain about, it will always be the same. Yeah, for better or worse, it remains consistent.
- Business Growth: These days you cannot glance at a business blog without seeing the word “scalable,” which is a fancy way of saying being able to replicate your products or services on a large scale. Now, whether you want to be the next Jeff Bezos (Amazon Owner) or you just want to have a few family members on your pay roster, you can only go from self-employed to a successful business owner if the business can run without you. Having clearly defined steps for everything you do makes it easy to step away for a bit and let Uncle Jerry take a shot at the old business boss life, without getting sued. Additionally, it also makes training Uncle Jerry and Grandma Barb much easier and faster.
- Focused Improvement: Running a business takes a lot of focus and requires that you and your team be on the same page. Knowing the requirements, a smart business owner will ensure there are established steps and methods to keep everyone aware of what is expected of them. As systems are designated and tested, over time, steps can be taken to improve and refine key procedures to make tasks easier, more affordable, efficient, and accessible to the newer team members while keeping the veterans apprised of updates and improvements.
- Impressive Customer Experience: As I mentioned before, nobody likes having to jump through hoops to access your products or services. Making the sales process as seamless as possible will likely encourage people to take your brand seriously and return to fill another need. Having to search and wait for information dissuades people from continuing to do business with you and causes you to lose money and loyalty. Having a system in place means that majority of the time, customers will be met with the same service, instructions, and directions to get them to their solution faster and with ease, and who doesn’t want that?
- Stay Organized: Many entrepreneurs and creators are busy being fabulous parents, amazing friends, speakers, authors, and coaches. With those many things happening all at once, organizing your tasks and thoughts sometimes becomes overwhelming. Having a system, that is clearly defined, well laid out and consistent offers stability and organization that reduces stress( ever sent someone to a landing page that no longer worked and you have no idea what the heck happened or how to fix it?) Yeah, not pretty. Keep your hair from being ripped out in a stress-induced panic by sitting down and documenting what you do and how you do it and then putting them together in categories that form the engine of your business.
How to get started with your own business systems
- Bearing in mind that a process is simply a list of steps, the best approach is to figure out where you want the steps to take you. Start with your end goal in mind, what are you trying to achieve with these steps? What does success look like? Who will benefit from it and why would they use your program or process?
- Determine the role the process plays in your overall business goals. Let’s be clear, even if you are the most spiritual person, you seek compensation for your efforts. Define what that compensation is and how the tasks in the process add to the overall engine of getting you to the goal. So, if you are creating content, you would start with the overall marketing goal(system) and then think about your content strategy and then finally what steps you take to create the content that supports that strategy.
- Plan your process by creating a roadmap that describes all the strategies needed to get from problem to solution at every stage. Remember, always keep the overall goal and smaller objectives in mind and brain dump, then map everything that is involved in the achievement of these goals. When first starting out research what the veterans do, write down how you do it and then test out which combination of steps gets you there quickly and confidently. If you have a team, this is the time to determine who does what and create a table or document to keep track of that information.
- Create documents that definitively outline the steps you take at each level and then test, correct and update your steps. Be sure to include tools needed and timeframes and any relevant information that may have otherwise been overlooked. For example, my keyword research process took me months to pin down as I did many variations of the search and tested various tools before deciding on what actions gave me the best results and what tools were most effective.
- Use the notes you created to determine what templates, checklists, and documents to create to support your systems. As you are documenting your process, there will be documents or resources you need to create or purchase to aid your success. Use the time after creating your roadmap to create the documents or procure the tools necessary ( I have found it efficient to create these right away as my brain is already focused on the roadmap and it becomes easier to just do a rough draft in Google docs.)
- Now that you have the steps and the documents and tools, it is time to find a guinea pig to test out your process and find the gaps and redundant steps. Just like when you integrate Mailchimp with Paypal you go in and make a payment to yourself, you want to do the same for your processes. Go through each one and have someone else try it out to see if it works. Who knows, you may even help a friend and get a testimonial in the process( See what I did there? 😉
- Since these processes are ultimately going to impact your business growth strategy, monitor the results you get by documenting the process efficiency and patterns. Did your appointment system work? Was the email sent automatically? Were your payments being collected seamlessly? Remember course correction is always a part of your job as a business owner, so don’t worry when things don’t work (ok, worry a little but don’t freak out too much.) You have the power to choose another platform, software or payment system and it’s always better to know sooner than later.
- Once the goal is being achieved and there are few to no hiccups, repeat the process. Make sure you combine all the processes into a working system that can be replicated by you and others on your team. Customers want to do business with companies that make their lives easier and consistently solves their problems. So use the processes that work and dispose of the ones that take too much time, effort, and resources. And make sure that the steps are distinctly outlined, documented and shared with those with whom you work and serve, so they know what to expect at any time.
Final Thoughts on Business Management Systems
If you are able to sit down and map the strategies and procedures for your business management, marketing, and customer fulfillment, then not only will you enjoy an improved work environment, but you will also be able to offer your customers and employees a better experience with your company. Customers are savvy and know that they can spend their time and money wherever they choose, so ensure your business gives them the feeling of luxury, ease, and professionalism from start to finish. You really never know where a single referral might take your business in the future.
Need help getting started on defining your processes? Get in touch with us and we will offer you the guidance to get it done or book a free consultation to plan, organize or implement a brand content strategy by clicking on the button below.