The word “systems” is used in the business world a lot.
But it means different things to different people.
If you’re an agency or service business owner in the $20k+ per month range, here’s what business systems should mean to you so that you can work less, make more and have your team manage the business instead of you.
What Are Business Systems?
Business systems are a set of parts that work together to achieve a particular result in a business — usually more profits, more customers, or time saved.
They are a combination of people, technology (apps) and processes.
Business Systems Online
The confusion often comes from business systems being poorly defined and marketed in the online world.
If you go to Google, LinkedIn, Twitter or even Instagram and search for “systems expert”, you’ll come across a wide range of people.
There will be some with large followings (100k+).
These are usually business coaches/gurus or marketing consultants.
And what they teach are sales and lead generation systems because that is the widest net to cast in business — 80% of people want more customers, because they think that is the only way to grow their business.
I like to think of these experts as the Taylor Swifts or Blackpinks of the systems world.
The second set of systems experts that you’ll find specialise in launches, funnels, or email marketing.
Because sequencing email pathways, VSLs and webinars is also systems work.
The last set of systems experts you’ll come across are those who work on your core, infrastructure systems.
These systems don’t get too much attention, until you realise that you have too many new potential clients and don’t have the time or capacity to service them.
These experts (like me) work on process reengineering, project management, team communications and client management processes.
And because we tend to work with a smaller set of already-established business owners, there are fewer of us.
These systems experts are often called operations consultants, OBMs, remote systems integrators or fractional COOs.
As we have seen, systems cover everything from:
- Marketing systems.
- Funnels and emails.
- Project management.
- Team management.
- And more.
What Are Some More of These Core, Infrastructure Systems?
Core infrastructure systems are the systems that help already-successful business owners remove themselves from their business.
Think of it as automating 50% of your manual processes, and making sure that those that remain can be completed by a team, rather than yourself.
Let’s look at some examples.
Project management systems
Project management is the obvious example. A good project management system should:
- Take incoming work, identify it and prioritise it.
- Get it out to the right team members fast and efficiently.
- Let the team know exactly what to do, in what order, and when it needs to be done by.
- Help you (the business owner) find the information that you need, fast.
Team management systems
Team management is optimising your recruiting practices and team onboarding practices.
And then using a meeting rhythm to keep the team aligned and running like clockwork.
It is about implementing effective delegation procedures, objectives, OKRs, and KPIs.
It is also about making sure that qualitative and quantitative market data makes its way back to you so that you can make better business decisions.
Client management processes
Client management is about automating and streamlining client onboarding, management and offboarding.
Most businesses have overly manual processes around these that usually involve copying-and-pasting emails, working out what to send the client next, and really wasting hours of time before even starting to work with clients.
Effective client management processes automate all this into clicking a button.
Strategic thinking and execution planning
This is the system that sits at the very top of your business and helps you work out who you are as a company and where you are headed.
Popular implementations are EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) or the OPSP (One-Page Strategic Plan).
It is about having a structured way to identify and maintain the important things at the $250k+/year level:
Knowledge bases and SOPs
It pains me how many businesses don’t use a knowledge base to house their SOPs.
(Google Docs, seriously?)
SOPs are the formalisation of experience and willpower into knowledge.
And knowledge can be written down, trained and passed onto other people.
This means as a business owner, you can take everything you know, write it down, and delegate it to other people on the team, thus removing yourself from the day-to-day operations of the business.
That’s the power of knowledge bases and SOPs.
Technology has become an integral part of how we do business today.
Whether it’s cloud storage, single login management or team communications via Slack and Zoom, technology shows up in almost every other system on this list and really shouldn’t be thought of as a separate “system” any more.
The Cost of Not Having Systems in Your Business
There is a cost to not having systems in your business, especially if you are past the startup phase.
These costs include:
- Working 6-7 days a week just to keep up.
- Your team messaging you every time there’s an issue, on Slack, on WhatsApp, on even your personal Facebook Messenger.
- Waking up to a stack of Slack messages.
- Having to deal with everything that doesn’t fall into someone else’s “job duties” — like tax forms, offer letters, “move this task here”, teaching staff about OKRs, setting up logins and more.
- When someone on the team drops the ball, it becomes your responsibility to clean it up — that might mean apologising to clients, figuring out why receivables weren’t collected last month, and then scrambling to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
- Going away on vacation and having to take your laptop with you. Or not being able to go on vacation at all.
- Handling team member disagreements and drama.
- Hiring an assistant — then spending more time managing them and helping them get their work done, than them actually helping you out.
- Revenue capping at around $250k/year because there’s just too much to do.
- Spending all your time putting out fires, and little time actually working ON your business.
- Having no time to work on the things you enjoy in the business.
- And having no time for the things you started the business for in the first place – your partner, hobbies, social life, health, and sleep.
The Benefits of Having Systems
When you implement the right systems in your business however, everything looks dramatically different.
Things. Just. Work.
You don’t spend all day putting out fires.
You regain control over your time and freedom.
This means that you can choose to focus on what you love in your business.
For some business owners, this is sales. For others, it is thought leadership. And for others, it is product creation.
Everything else in the business is systemised and delegated and just happens on its own, like magic.
You go from a business that is effectively just you, to a business that runs without you.
You can go away for a week, a month, or even a year and come back — and have the business still running, and also more profitable.
You get to enjoy the money and lifestyle afforded by being a true business owner, without actually having to run the business any more.
And that’s part of why you started a business in the first place, isn’t it?
How to Implement Systems in Your Business
If you’re at that $250k+/year mark in your business, you don’t really have a choice when it comes to systems.
Because at this point almost every business owner becomes tired of running their business.
You’re maxed out personally and professionally, and simply can’t handle any more business.
It’s not that you’re incapable or don’t love your business — it’s just a function of doing the same thing day-in-day-out for a long time.
One of two things usually happens.
The first is that you never discover or implement systems.
And the business starts to naturally shrink back down to a manageable $100-200k/year level so that you can handle it all without burning out.
If you’ve built a team — it shrinks back down to that 2-4 person size.
You still have to work hard, but you mentally resign yourself to accepting that that’s just how it’s going to be.
The second is that you go in search of a solution.
And you discover one like my Systems VIP Days.
And with some help, you put in place the systems that you need to keep your level of business, remain profitable, delegate out the work and even scale if you want to.
If you’re at that stage in your business where you need to make a decision — book a call with me here and let’s talk. We’ll go over what systems you need to reclaim your time and freedom in your business, and how we can implement them as quickly as possible.
If you’ve found this short guide to business systems valuable, feel free to share it so that more business owners can find out how systems can help them make more whilst working less.