5 Steps to Creating Systems That Work
When I first learned about creating systems, a few years ago, I was in awe at my wonderful discovery. And if you’ve never heard of it before, grab on to your seat because this is going to blow your mind.
Creating systems is a small business owner’s best business partner.
“What is she talking about?” and “Why haven’t I heard of this before?” is passing thru your mind this instant. Right?
Creating a system is outlining your process for getting something done. It’s actually outlined well enough that someone else could possible help you with it. It’s outlining the steps it takes to get a task completed… like a checklist, a recipe, a plan.
There are different types of systems as well. You need to understand your goal and how best to accomplish it in order to determine which is the right system for your business.
One task that a client was doing over and over again and was very time consuming was creating a quote. He would spend a lot of time on the phone getting the information needed in order to then, sit down, research and create the quote.
One system that helped him tremendously was having a form on his website.
So, when a client hit the ‘Request a Quote’ button, he was taken to a form to be completed online. With this information in hand, the client was able to have the information needed BEFORE calling the client. This one form reduced the time he spent on quotes significantly.
Another example is my own. Creating proposals is time-consuming. But not any more. Now that I have a system in place, I can create a proposal in no time.
I created a template with a standard proposal template. I even created the email templates to accompany the proposal. The proposal template contains all the services I provide and my price ranges.
When I create the proposal, I remove the services that are not being quoted, change the price range to the set price based on my potential client’s requirements, copy the email (from my email templates), tweak, and within an hour or less of having spoken with the potential client, s/he has a proposal in their inbox.
Large companies have been using systems for a long time. Think about the hiring process. There is a checklist of everything that needs to happen to bring a new employee on board. Whether I’m new in the HR Department or not, I can follow this checklist to make sure I’m bringing the new hire on board according to my company’s guidelines.
Systems can also be used to automate processes. For example, let’s say someone signed up for your newsletter. You can create a series of emails and automate their delivery every time someone signs up. You don’t have to send these emails manually.
Small business owners can benefit greatly from creating systems. Once created, systems can be handed off to an employee or team member to do freeing you up to do other things, including taking a vacation. No more closing shop while you go on vacation.
Here are the five steps to consider when creating systems that work.
Identify repetitive tasks.
What tasks do you find yourself repeating? What tasks are easily performed by someone else if they had a defined process to follow? What tasks can be automated?
In my business, creating proposals was a time-consuming task. A task that I could easily hand off to one of my designers is performing a website audit. Sending an email series out to people who download my 47-Point Homepage Checklist can be an automated process. (To download it, CLICK HERE.)
Think about your business and what tasks you would like to create a system for.
Outline your current process.
Pick one of the tasks you identified above. What steps do you perform to complete that task?
Write those steps down. Remember to include any research that needs to happen, how you research. What about follow-up? Do you typically follow-up with a phone call? Who’s involved in this task? Do you need to coordinate it with anyone?
Brainstorm areas of improvement.
Review the process you just wrote. What can you improve? How?
Can you automate something? Can you delegate this process to someone else? Is there a better way of capturing the information you need?
Adjust your documented process with these improvements.
Not all systems are created equal. Not all tasks can follow the same system. What would be the best way to tackle each one of the tasks you identified in the above step. Remember, nothing is written in stone.
Implement your system.
Now it’s time to put your new system to work. If your new system requires the use of a new online form, create it, upload and make it available to the users. If your new system will be delegated to someone on your team, explain it, answer questions and hand it over to them.
Keep a watchful eye on things in the beginning. These new systems will require tweaking. Plan on making adjustments as you go until your system is working they way you expect.
Tweaking and Re-evaluating.
Once a system has been created, it can be used on and on. This saves you time and money because you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you are performing the task.
But things do change. New technology. New ways. New team members with different experiences. Keep an eye out for ways to keep improving your systems and adjust.
Creating systems takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. As you continue to use your newly created system, you will find areas of improvement. Make the changes and keep working it.
As your business grows, you may find that some of these systems can be handed off to team members to do. That would be awesome! Imagine being a new employee and having everything that needs to happen for a specific task outlined step by step for you.
Eventually, I’d love to have my business run smoothly enough to not have to close shop when I’m taking a day off. That is my goal. Automate and delegate these systems moving forward.
Any questions on how to create systems? Post them in the comments. I’m not an expert in the field, but I can certainly share what has worked for me and others.