There is, and has been for some time, a lot of talk about systems and processes in business.
Stories of Henry Ford, JIT and McDonalds have filled countless pages, documentaries and movies, but it can still be hard to make the link between that and your business.
If you are not already running a global giant, it is not always clear how to link these principles and ideas back to your own, comparatively small business.
One of the big stumbling blocks I see a lot when working with businesses is they get stuck trying to work out where to start.
And as it is with anything in life, if you don’t start, you won’t make any progress.
In some respects it doesn’t really matter where you start, as long as you get started. Once you create a few small processes or automations in your business, you’’l see the benefits right away.
This will spark a shift in your thinking, which in turn will allow you to see opportunities for improvements in operational efficiency.
At the same time, you’ll start noticing points in your business where automation can speed things up, and also make your business more reliable, for you and your customer.
To help get clear on where you could start, and how this will help you, let me highlight just three ways in which a focussed approach to operational efficiency and automation will help you build a stronger business and achieve your goals.
1. You’ll be able to focus on growing your business
With no discernable systems or processes in place, every day is a first day for your business. Neither you, your staff nor your customers will be sure how the day is going to go, and how things will be done.
The real-world effect of this is more time spent fire-fighting, managing mistakes from your team and inbound customer service queries.
By creating clear systems and processes in your business, you are able to create a minimum level of service and and undercurrent of activities which are there all day, every day.
This means you only need to get involved when there is an anomaly, which will be another opportunity to improve your processes and systems.
2. Look at the horizon, not your feet
When everything in your business is manual and ‘on the hoof’, it is near impossible for you to do any planning or ‘big thinking’.
All your time is taken up by dealing with ‘now’ and ‘now’ never ends. This means you are just treading water and trying to stay afloat, making no forward progress.
What clearly thought-out and developed systems and automation gives you is the ability to look up, focus on the future, and actually make progress getting there.
You’ll be in a position to create a business that ‘works’. A business that works for you, and produces results, with much less demand on your actual input and time.
What do you do with this extra time? You plan for the future, because it won’t be like today.
As Keith Cunningham states in his book, ‘The Road Less Stupid’: “You need to run the business that is generating income today, whilst at the same time building the business that will generate income in the future.”
If you spend all day fire-fighting, this is impossible.
3. New team members become assets to your business
In most businesses, and remember that most businesses are not successful, when a new team member starts, it usually goes something like this…
John, meet Sally, she’s been with us for a couple of years now.
Sally, John is just starting, you can show him the ropes right?
And that is it.
Now John’s only insight into how things are done in your business is what Sally tells him or shows him.
John will have no real focus on what is expected of him, because he spends his time trying to get to grips with a couple of different pieces of software. There is nothing to guide John on what he is meant to do when he shows up for work on a Monday morning, so he just focuses on the ‘can that rattles the most’.
Before you know it, it is Friday, and John has still not learnt all that much about how he is helping to grow and build the business. Leaving it to John to figure out, means it can take up to six months before he is a profitable member of the team.
With the right systems and processes in place, and some automation, John will know exactly what to focus on next, and be able to tell important from urgent.
If you weren’t fire-fighting today, what would you actually do and achieve in your business?
If you could spend an entire day focussed on what the business will be in 90-days, a year, two years, how would you spend that day? How about being able to have that in your sights every day?
How much better would your business be, for your customers, your team and you, if everyone knew exactly what they were supposed to do, and when?
Give it some thought, and use your answers as the motivation to create systems and processes in your business.
Author: Pieter De Villiers
Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Blue Peg Group and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.