blocks that spell both success and process

Invest in systems

I am a big believer in systems and processes.

I don’t mean buying the latest and greatest CRM or multi-function tool.

I mean sitting down as a business owner and thinking about how your business does run and how you want it to run and then working out how to get from point A to point B.

That tends to get treated as something that just means documenting what you’re doing now and being done with it.  That’s a great start – knowing where you are is the first step in developing and refining your processes, but that’s all it is—a start.

I recommend that owners set aside time, scheduled in their calendars, to work on their business. It is as simple as setting aside an hour a week to look at some portion of your business and tease it apart and confirm that it is how you want it to be, or if it’s not, figuring out what is missing or needs to be changed.

Once you’ve spent the time to review your process yourself, take another look at it:

  • If you’re a person who works better when you talk, find a trusted confidant and talk them through your process. Have them poke holes if they can and test your assumptions. If it is good, it will hold up. If not, you know it can stand some refinement
  • If you work better with visuals, graph it out. Microsoft Visio, Google Drawings, or even just pen and paper. Look for where the assumptions lie and decide if you’re happy with them or not. Refine as needed.
  • If you work with a team, review it with them. Take advantage of the institutional knowledge you have in your people and involve them in the process. When they’re part of the development, they’ll be more invested in it.

When it comes down to it, investing in the systems that run your business is some of the most important work you’ll do, because it will make your company run smoother, you’ll have the foundation to grow, and when the time comes, you’ll have that as yet another asset in the company that makes it that much more valuable.

One last thought – this is not a “one and done” exercise. You’re going to need to adapt as you grow and to be able to adjust as the world changes around us.  Having the habit of examining your processes and systems and doing it deliberately means that you will be able to not simply stick with codifying what is already being done, but to proactively adapt and develop. It means you can choose your path, not simply react to what happens.