What is a Business System Anyway?

Jul 14, 2015, Written by Sue Miley

Business systems, policies and procedures sound so boring…and time consuming…and limiting…and, did I say boring?  What exactly is a business system anyway?

I only have a few people in my office and we need to get things done.  We don’t have time to set up an actual process for everything.  Can’t we all just use a little common sense and get stuff done efficiently?

Honestly, this is me on any given week.  Of course, these are my thoughts between the coaching meetings I am having with other entrepreneurs telling them exactly why it is so important.  “Am I a hypocrite?” I wonder silently to God.

God never tells us we will like everything He wants us to do, tells us to do, or does on our behalf.  He just does what He knows is best for us.  And, I guess there is not always a correlation between what is best for us and it being pleasant.

Self Disclosure:  Maintaining Systems Is Boring

I don’t like to maintain systems and processes myself.  I know part of it is my personality (ENFP) and that I am an entrepreneur and a small business owner.  Which, as you know, means I am wearing many hats and have a lot to do.  Plus, I am attracted to the shiny, new things, not the old, boring routine things.

Does that sound familiar?

If you are an entrepreneur, you are probably similar.  You are focused on getting things done for the client.  You are putting attention on revenue-generating activities.  Once the revenue is in, you are moving on to the next sales opportunity.

Systems and Processes Do Make You Money

We sometimes miss the fact that systems, processes, and policies can and will make us money and help us to increase revenues.  Here are the facts:

  • If we do tasks consistently, we end up doing them faster, others know what to anticipate, other team members can do them the same way so the speed and quality is maintained.
  • If we have a process or system for getting something done, we can delegate this process to a less experienced team member as they have the process laid out to follow.
  • By having consistent processes, people know what to do and don’t have to ask you as many questions, or worse, wait on you for an answer and you become a bottleneck.
  • Policies provide guidelines for actions and decision making that can improve customer service, response times, and reduce management time as employees are empowered to do their job and the policies properly created can provide guidelines and boundaries for the team to work in.
  • We can get information more easily and accurately when we have good, consistent systems in place.  For example, if we have a system that we file all client work in Dropbox under clients, client name, functional task, then when anyone is trying to find anything for a client, they will know right where to look.  You don’t have to wait on someone to find a document and forward it to you.

A CrossRoads Case Study

I can give you a current example that is happening in my business right now.  As we have added CrossRoads team members, we have brought more marketing projects in-house.  However, we were still capturing our hours the way we did when there were only two of us total.  At that time, we billed everything under a Client General project.  Most of the time, only one of us would work with a specific client.  Now our team supports each client and we work on many different projects, especially in the marketing arena.

As I was billing for this past month, it took me a lot of time because I was trying to look at notes and see how many hours went towards each project.  I do this to make sure we are billing accurately and to ensure profitability on each project.

It took way too much time and there were time posts with multiple tasks across projects.  The process we started with is outdated.

It doesn’t work anymore.

The “system” has the ability to set up as many projects as we want for each client.  If there is a separate project opened for the different projects we are working on for a client, the exact hours can be tracked under that project.

At the end of the month, I can easily see how many hours per project.  I can provide better breakdown and detail for our client, quickly.  I can assess the profit margins and make decisions and take action if there is a problem.

Changing this process will save us time, improve accuracy, and provide information.

So, why did it take 6 months of struggling before I made the change??

Wise Business Owners Systematize Their Business

I can make a bunch of excuses, but in the end, because it is in my nature, I flock to the “people part” of my job.  I start new things all of the time.  Working on an old process or creating processes in general, for us, not our clients, is not fun to me.

However, this is where we have to be wise business managers.  We have to fight against our nature.  We have to put in the proper and needed systems, processes and policies or we will get stuck.  Our business will plateau.  It won’t be able to grow past what we can touch and make happen.

For the health of your business,
For the empowerment of your team,
For the sake of your sanity…
Embrace systematizing your business, in order to build a solid foundation for growth (on rock, not sand)!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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