When you’re just starting out, it’s pretty easy to keep up with the day to day tasks in your business. But at some point, that gets more difficult and it’s time to start thinking about implementing systems in your business. It’s hard to grow and scale if you are reinventing the wheel anytime you do something. I don’t think it’s ever too soon to start thinking about systems in your business, just know that they will change and evolve over time.
Why you need systems in your business
Systems in your business are really just processes and checklists for things you do frequently. Whether you are a solopreneur or have a small team, having the right systems in your business has many benefits.
- Makes it easy to know everything that needs to be done for a specific project so you don’t forget anything.
- Makes running your business less stressful, because you aren’t constantly worrying about what fell through the cracks.
- It’s easier to bring on team members when you already have a system in place they only have to learn.
How to create systems in your business
Creating systems in your business requires you to take a step back and look at what you do in your business. I like to start with either the thing I do the most frequently or the thing that having a system would make the most difference for. For example, there are certain types of legal cases I get more often than others. It makes sense for me to start creating systems for those so when I get one of those cases I can manage it as efficiently as possible and I can make sure I don’t miss a critical step.
Once you know what task or project you’re going to create a system for, I like to start by just observing & making notes as I do that task. If you need to create a system that you aren’t doing any time soon, that’s okay, it’s a bit easier to create it as you go. Either way, make a note of every step of the process. You are sure to miss something the first time through, but know you can update your systems at any time.
I like to write my systems down so I have them available when I’m doing that task or project. For example, for the legal case example I used earlier, I have a word document laying out all the steps in the case. When I start a new one, I simply print out the document, put it in the file, and mark things off as I go. If I notice something needs to be changed, I make a note of it and go back to open the original.
If you prefer creating your systems on a digital platform, there are many available.
what systems do you need in your business
Every business is going to be different for many of the systems it needs, but here are 6 systems I think every business would benefit from:
1. strategic planning
Before you can get where you’re going, you need to know where you want to go. It’s a good idea to periodically make strategic planning part of your routine. This should be done at a minimum every year, but even better if you can do it every quarter or every six months. This is where you think about things like what you want your business & life to look like, what things you enjoy/don’t enjoy doing, what is going well, what needs to change, what goals you have, etc. You can include details like revenue, size, employees, etc. or you can just think about your business more generally. It does help to have a list of the different areas you want to consider when you’re doing your strategic planning so you don’t get lost in your thoughts.
Love it or hate it, finances are a critical part of your business. You need a system to keep track of your income & expenses for tax purposes and also to see how your business is doing. I used to use Quickbooks, but recently switched to a simple spreadsheet and it has been working well enough for me. The key is regularly tracking your finances so you don’t get a backlog and have to sift through months of receipts (not that I’ve ever done that). Once a week is ideal, but even once a month is better than once every few months or once a year.
Your business can’t be successful if no one knows about it. There are so many ways you can market, but if you have systems in place you can make sure you’re making the most of your marketing time & money. You want systems for each type of marketing, but you also want to include reviewing your marketing efforts so you can track what is working and what needs to be tweaked.
4. client management
Obviously if you don’t work with clients you won’t need a system for managing them, but you may want to think about a ‘client’ in broader terms. For example, if you are a blogger that regularly works with brands, you may want a system for how you work with them.
If you do work with clients, having client management systems can change your life. This is essentially a workflow that outlines all the elements of working with someone. What contracts do you need in place? What does your initial meeting look like? What information do they need to know? What steps need to be completed to fulfill the work? How do you know if a client is a good fit?
This is similar to client management systems but it’s for the more task management. Some examples of workflows include creating content, researching keywords, creating pins, creating paid products, hosting a webinar. I’ve found the best way to create these workflows is to keep track of all the tasks as you’re doing them, then review & tweak as necessary.
6. ongoing education
No matter what type of business you have, there is probably some kind of ongoing education you need to keep you up to speed in your industry. Depending on your needs, this could be making time every week to learn & implement something new or maybe you only do it a few times a year.
Running a business can be hard, but creating & implementing systems in your business is something you can do to make it somewhat easier.