Charles Gaudet

Charles Gaudet

Your Business Needs Systems – Part 2: Building Your Own

The idea of “business system” building sounds scary to most owners…. And there’s a reason:

Most entrepreneurs are like this baby elephant… 

It grows up with chain around its foot and tied to a stake. 

As it gets older and matures, the chain still keeps elephant in place.  

Why?  

Because the elephant doesn’t know how easy it is to break. 

This is what happens to most business owners and entrepreneurs. They get stuck thinking, just because it’s the way they’ve always run the business, that it’s the right way. 

It isn’t…

To truly systemize your business and build something that isn’t completely and utterly dependent on you, you’ll rely on:

1) Checklists

2) Flowcharts

3) Manuals

4) Tools (like Infusionsoft)

Everyone asks me: 

“How detailed does a business system need to be?”

My response is: make it detailed enough so that anyone with a baseline level of skill can produce the same results time after time.

Some of our systems include a step-by-step process, where we not only include a text explanation, we also include an image and – in some cases – a video where someone can watch the process being performed. This makes the process easy to follow with little chance for mistakes or variation.

As you build your system, consider the analogy of baking a cake. There are things that need to be put in place for it to be successful.

  1. The ingredients (and the order of the ingredients)
  2. The different procedures – how to break the eggs, beat the eggs, mix the cake, bake it in the oven, etc.
  3. Then the process of putting the cake together 

You can make this process as simple or as complex as you want – as long as it’s enough to produce consistent results. That’s why, especially with complex systems, having a checklist is great to make sure nothing gets missed.

I had a mentor of mine years ago tell me: 

“Variation is the enemy of excellence.”

Think about McDonald’s.  

Whether you’re eating in Boston or Sacramento, you’ll get the same experience and the same food. Very little variation. A great system produces consistent and predictable results each time it’s executed.

McDonald’s is one of the most successful companies in the world – but not because they have the best tasting food or make the best burgers. It’s because (at the foundation of their business) they have highly developed systems that produce consistent results.

Systems are at the heart of a truly excellent and profitable business.

Here are 5 rules of systems:

  1.  The systems must be designed so anyone with a base level of skill can successfully complete the task (you shouldn’t need to be an expert)
  2. If your system is difficult to follow, something is wrong. Think about it: McDonald’s is a business largely staffed by teenage employees. You might have a bus full of tourists pull in at the same time, 20 people rushing to fill orders – and not a single person misses a beat.
  3. It’s not a system if it’s not written down.
  4. Deliver predictable and consistent results every time. No variation.
  5. Use automation wherever possible. With software like Infusionsoft and tools like Zapier, we truly live in an age where automation has become so sophisticated, you’re only limited by your imagination for what’s possible.

Here are a few examples of what you can systemize and automate:

And here’s something else that many of you might not have considered…

Would you like to sell your business one day? 

Maybe sell it for a few million… Or a hundred times that?  

You might love what you’re doing so much that you think you’ll never want to sell… But that’s today. Maybe you’ll want to pass the business on to your kids… 

If you’re the holder of the core expertise, if you’re the only one that knows how to close the business, if you are the core of the business… Your business has a limited value.

And when you do eventually sell your business, you’ll have a contract in place that keeps you working in the business until the new owners figure out how to run it without you! 

If you completely systemize your business – and all the buyers have to do is turn the crank faster or harder than you do – the business is worth more (and you don’t sell yourself into slavery along with the business).

With a completely systematized business, your business is going to make you a lot more money a lot sooner. If you know you want to sell your business one day, that means you need to start thinking systematically now.

Every repeatable action to undertake, start documenting the process.

One of the things entrepreneurs tell me all the time is:  

“I don’t have the time to build a system.”

I get it. I run a business too – and I’m running the market strategies for many clients as well. I understand.

Here’s the key: you don’t have to build all the systems yourself.

How would you like your employees and subcontractors create the systems for you?

In my company, anyone I hire can take unlimited vacation time and work whatever hours they want – and it’s a great company culture.

I get away with this because I have a rule in my company that makes system building a condition of employment.

Employee Rule #1: You can’t give me or anyone else on the team a headache.

And I’m serious about this rule.  

I tell my team: if they want to leave early, take the day off, or go on vacation, the company must be able to operate without a blip. The only way that can happen is if the team creates and documents systems for everything they do – so the company isn’t reliant on any one person.

And they store all their company systems and processes online in a company wiki for the entire team to access.

Even when I ask my virtual assistant to perform a task – if it’s a task we’ll do again – I’ll also ask them to document the process at the same time it’s getting done, so that it could be easily repeatable by anyone in the future (should he quit or simply go away on vacation).  

Now, think of the implications of this…

With systems, the company is not dependent on any one person or skill, and because everything is documented and stored online… The company operates more efficiently and can be scaled quickly.  

And the best part… I’m not the only one responsible for creating all of our own systems!  

When you do this right, when you hire a new employee, you can simply point them to the system. As long as the person can follow the checklist, it’s done.

Think about it – how many of your competitors have processes like this in their business?  

Not many.

This is an example of getting more done with less time. A MASSIVE competitive advantage.

Most of your competitors have to set aside several hours to train a new sales or marketing person, and you can bet that the results are very inconsistent (and vary from person to person).  

But because you will have a documented system in place, it’s as simple as handing the system to the employee – and it’s done!

Then you simply monitor and track to make sure the system is being followed and the metrics meet your expectations.

We’ve created a culture of constantly building systems. Constantly.

That’s why I have a small company with a handful of employees – and do the work of a company better than twice our size. 

VERY IMPORTANT GROWTH TIP: build a culture of building systems.

The ultimate dream is being able to take off whenever you want, knowing that the company is predictably bringing in leads everyday… 

…That your salespeople are predictably following up when they should… 

…That clients are being supported…

…That social media is being managed…

…That articles are being posted…

…Emails are going out, etc.  

All of it.  

Systems allow you to build an entire company that runs itself.

That’s why it’s so critical to build systemizing into your culture.

And when your team members have suggestions for improving the system, listen. Encourage it! 

This is the stuff your competition isn’t doing, and just one more way you can establish a sustainable competitive advantage. Nobody will be able to touch you.

Seriously, just imagine a year from today… You have automated systems running in your business. Like clockwork, your leads are being followed up and converted into sales, your operations is running like a fine-tuned machine, and when you go on vacation, your business will actually be better than when you left it! So here’s what you need to do next:

Step 1: Decide what to systemize first.

Looks for things that:

a) Take the most time

b) Require the most skill

c) Have the biggest impact

Step 2: Put your system into action

Step 3: Track and improve your system

Bonus Step: create a culture of building systems

That’s it.

The habit of building a business system must start now. Once you change your mindset from systems building as a “some day” activity to a “must have now” activity, your life, your business, and your income will change dramatically.

More to explore