Having the Right Systems in Place

This month we’re writing about the opportunity for business owners to step away from their business…again.  Yes, if you are a frequent reader of our newsletter, you’ll recognize this theme.  The reason we keep bringing it up is that many of our clients are telling us, directly or through their behaviors, that they continue to struggle with feeling as “slaves to the business,” bringing to mind a well-known quote by business author Michael E. Gerber: “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

Michael Gerber is author of one of the best-selling books on entrepreneurialism and small business ownership, The E-Myth: Revisited. You’ve probably read it or heard about it, and if not…here is a link. As a theme from the book, once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work on your business, rather than in it. This month and next, let’s dive into two areas that you might need to work ON – systems and talent – which we think could have an immediate impact on any business. As usual, we attempt to put a new spin on a common topic.

Systems? No, systems of Systems!
Working on your business means putting in as many systems as required, which will provide for the business to work, whether you’re there or not, or people leave, or you hire new ones.  Systems provide standardization of processes, such that the business owner can step out, and any other employee could step up to fulfill that role. Here are a few categories of systems to think about:

  1. Hard systems – equipment, production process or order process
  2. Soft systems – customer service policies, telephone scripts or the dress code of employees
  3. Management systems – training materials and manuals, data you collect, or operational metrics

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • How can you get your business to work without you?
  • How can you make your people independent from you?
  • How can you build a business you can replicate a hundred times (even if you don’t actually)?
  • How can you set your time to do what you love instead of what you have to?

If you continue to weave the idea of systems as a constant thread in your business, you’ll end up with a system of systems, which seamlessly work together to eventually set you free as the business owner.

Next month, we’ll continue this discussion, but from the point of view of talent, and how important it is to be able to replace yourself in your business.  For now, take a closer look at your systems.  Do you need to strengthen your systems? What needs to be standardized? What interferences are preventing you from stepping back to work on the business?  Let us know your insights and the actions you decide to take.