Being a hands-on entrepreneur is thrilling (if not a little overwhelming) at first. As you get your business off the ground, you become used to doing everything yourself.
Even when you start outsourcing to freelance individuals, you sometimes keep a tight leash on them to the point that you’re continuing to waste valuable time you could spend elsewhere.
When you’re too directly involved with the microscopic tasks of your business as it grows, your growth slows to a halt. Plus, you’re unable to free yourself from the day-to-day operations of the company, which means no sick time, no vacations – and no reward for your efforts!
As you grow your business, there will be tasks that it no longer pays for you to do yourself. You’ll end up losing money by trying to handle everything on your own. There is a great way to continually build a business if you systemize as much of it as you can.
What You Gain from Systemizing Your Business
It might cost you some money up front when you set your system in place. But you end up gaining a lot more than you spend. Implement the systemized process as early on as possible, so that you’re free to work on more profitable areas of your business.
The responsibility of making sure that the entire business runs smoothly is taken off your shoulders with systemization. Rather than losing money, a system can actually help keep your expenses lower and more manageable.
This will make a difference in your end result financially. One way that a lot of businesses lose money is by having overly capable people doing tasks that someone else can do at a lower cost.
For example, if you have a guy who makes $25 an hour do a task that someone else could do for $15 an hour, you will have lost $10 per hour for every hour the higher paid person works on the task.
If you’re the one that’s handling a task that someone else could easily do, then you’re losing profit by being hands-on in that area. You want results with your business, but you should find the cheapest, most efficient way to accomplish these results.
How do you know if you should systemize your business? That’s easy. Ask yourself this question. Am I feeling overwhelmed with menial tasks that take me away from more important areas?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start analyzing the automation potential your company has – as well as seeing what can be outsourced to other professionals. Don’t look at it as, “I don’t want to pay someone to do something I can do myself.”
Instead, think of it like, “I’ll pay someone to do this because I know I can increase profits if I’m freed up to focus on marketing and product creation.” Is the cost of what you’re outsourcing going to be worth the return you get? If not, then it might be something that should remain in-house.
How to Decide If You Should Systemize Your Business
Every area of your business has the potential to be systemized, depending on what the tasks are. The more often you do a task in your business, the greater the need for systemization.
Can you imagine a popular chip company that filled each bag of chips by hand? No conveyor belts, no machines to seal the bags or move them off the belt. The cost of running the business would skyrocket. You’d have to double the amount of manpower you had on the floor.
Take a look around your business to see what areas have a lot of tasks that have to be completed every day. These are usually some pretty mundane things that don’t require a lot of thinking.
For example, you might have a high volume of people who need help downloading the product they just bought. That’s a task that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.
Or you might think of the time you’d need to spend learning how to set up an affiliate system and decide that paying the company to do it for you is worth it, since you could be focused on other money making projects while that’s being done.
By systemizing, you give yourself back time and money. Your business will tend to have fewer glitches during operation and you can improve the way that your business interacts with people.
Maybe you manually deliver every product to your customers online. Using a shopping cart systemizes your business, automatically delivering download links, capturing the customer’s name and email address, and adding them to your email autoresponder.
If you systemize, you can relax knowing that you don’t have to be there every single second of the day to ensure that everything is being done properly. Sometimes, business owners decide to systemize based on the complexity of the task versus how often it needs to be done.
Systems are a means of taking your place when you’re not there or are otherwise busy. Most business owners don’t realize that systemizing does more than free up time and make things run more efficiently.
It also makes your business more valuable. Think about it. If you have to be there in order for it to run, that means that once you need to do anything outside of work, everything will grind to a halt.
The business will become worthless if it’s not functional. You want to set it up in a way so that you can walk out the door, take some time off – and everything can run as usual.
Another reason to systemize is if you’re starting to notice that you’re letting your customers down. If you can’t handle the influx of customer service emails, then do your customers a favor and outsource it to a ticket system or a virtual assistant who can prioritize and handle that for you.
Once you’ve made the decision to systemize, you’ll want to decide which particular parts of your business you’re going to do that with. Some business owners choose to systemize only small portions while others choose to systemize anything that they possibly can.
Deciding whether or not this is right for you will depend on the system that you choose. Some of the systems are fairly simple and easy to implement. The simpler the system is, the less costly it will be.
However, you might be better off paying more for a high grade system – even if it costs more – because usually the more the system costs, the more benefits it offers a company to use it.
The System You Currently Use
There are a lot of businesses that do things a certain way because it’s been handed down from generation to generation. Nothing has changed or updated in the many years of doing business – even if it takes more time and effort.
Then there are businesses that had to start on a shoestring budget, so they had to keep the costs to a bare minimum. The owner had to devise a system that could work on the limited budget that was available.
Here’s the good news. Some of those limited budget plans and ways of running your business are good just the way they are. If something is working okay for you and getting the job done and you have good client satisfaction, then you don’t have to make any changes just for the sake of change.
Remember that systemizing a business is always done for a purpose. Some of these reasons could be for improving operations, offering better customer service, making an increased profit, following new guidelines and creating more productivity.
If what you have can’t be markedly improved on in any of those areas, then you should leave it alone. Take some time and pay attention to how each of your systems operates.
Write down how each area of your business performs and how it’s possible that it might be better handled. For example, if you have a business with hundreds of incoming emails every day, but only one person responding to them, you can bet that your business can improve its customer service if you add a more efficient system.
Once you have an overall picture of how your systems are operating, you’ll be able to see which ones could be changed to make your business more efficient. Even if you can’t make all of the changes that you’d like to make at once, start by making the changes that you can.
Choose which area of your business should be systemized first based on the burden it’s causing or the profit potential it has, and go with that one. Establishing a system that works right for your business might involve some trial and error – but the improvements will be worth it in the long run.
The Main Parts of Your Business to Focus Systemization On
Ordering and inventory is a good place to check for potential automation. If you have tangible products, then you’ll be handling orders as well as inventory at some point.
This can take a lot of time – unless you have automated delivery systems in place and automated inventory checkers. This allows your computer systems to do the time consuming tasks that can really add to your hours.
You save money by having a system that can handle anything you need to keep in stock. When you make a sale, you need to make sure that your business is systemized.
For example, if you have an online business and you sell information products, every time you make a sale, you have to send it out. If you’re only selling one or two of these a day, then it’s not a big deal.
But as your business grows, you could get hundreds of orders every day. To take the time to manually send out each order would not only keep you chained to your computer, but it wouldn’t be a very efficient way of doing business.
Plus, you have to take into account how the customer feels. If you might not answer the order for a digital product for 2-3 hours, your customer will feel frustrated that you don’t have an automated system in place to send them the product instantly.
Handling the money is another area of automation to consider. By systemizing your business, you can set it up so that when a customer orders, the system takes the payment and sends the product.
This frees you up to continue to make other items or to work on different tasks. You have to have a way to keep track of all kinds of payment options. You need to know what amounts come in and what amounts go out.
If you can’t find the record of someone who says they bought your product, but now they want a refund, you could lose money by being forced to trust that customer’s word if they don’t have proof of purchase. Or you could risk damaging your business reputation by refusing.
When you systemize, every order is documented, as are the refunds. Having a system in place can keep up with payroll, with the deposits you make for the company, petty cash and with the company expenses that you have to pay and more.
Keeping up with invoices and making sure that your employees are paid correctly falls under a system that handles the money. So you want to make sure that whatever you use for that is systemized.
Customer service is an area that you really do need to make sure you systemize. Without happy customers, your business will suffer. You want to make sure that from the moment a customer contacts your company, they experience a convenient and easy way to get their needs met.
This won’t happen if you have a ticket system that alerts you to high priority situations, or a virtual assistant who handles incoming customer communication as it occurs.
With systemization, you can have a cordial, professional greeting that your customers receive on autopilot, letting them know you received their inquiry.
You always want to make sure that you’re continuing to generate interest and income for your business. This means that you have to keep those leads coming in for future profits.
You can’t do that unless you’re reaching out. If you’re trying to do everything yourself or you’re having others do it manually, you could miss out on reaching more potential customers.
You have to bring in customers to keep your business thriving. By systemizing the lead generation process, you can be acquiring new business while you work on other things.
Even when your business is closed for the day, and you’ve taken off to recover from an illness or to have a day out with your family, a systemized tool such as an autoresponder opt in form paired with an online ad campaign can let your business keep working automatically for you.
You can systemize in other areas of how you brand yourself and connect to your audience, too. There are tools that help you schedule content, run ads, and launch new deals to your customers – without you having to be there helping it all unfold.
Implementing the System
Change can be a difficult thing for people to embrace. Whether it’s you struggling with the new and improved system, or your customers having to get used to a new way of interacting with you, be aware that there may be an adjustment period.
Make sure that when you systemize your business, you let your audience know how it works. Take the time to explain the changes and why it will be beneficial for everyone if it’s done this way.
When you set up or arrange to have your system in place, pick a day of the week and a season that you’re not scrambling to complete a project. You don’t want to add any unnecessary stress if you can help it.
Everyone who needs to use the system needs to understand how to operate it. Confusion can cause a lot of setbacks and you don’t want that. It might take you or your outsourcers a few days or weeks to get the hang of a new system.
Allow time for this. Don’t implement something the day before a brand new launch – where you and your customers will experience a lot of frustration if there are glitches or confusion happening.
Once your system is set up and operational, you’ll want to do periodic spot checks to make sure that it’s working the way that you want it work. If it’s causing more time and hassle because it’s too complicated, then obviously, the system isn’t working for you.
Systemizing a business is intended to make life easier for you as you run your company. If it doesn’t do that, then it needs to be tweaked or changed. Sometimes there’s a simple fix, and other times, you have to chalk it up to a loss and find a replacement.
The goal with systemizing your business is ultimately increased profits. Every change you make, you should analyze the return you expect to get from the new way of doing things.
For instance, if you hire a virtual assistant part time and pay her $20,000 a year, then you should expect to see your profits shoot up more than $20,000 per year because she’s now handling the drudge work and you’re able to focus on money making efforts.
Sometimes, an entire area of your business can’t be automated. But a portion of it can. You need to map out the entire process of each area of your business and see if there’s anything you can plug in to automate a portion of that task.
For example, with blogging – you may want daily content for your blog because the traffic it generates leads to more opt in subscribers, and ultimately, higher profit margins when you have products to sell to your list.
You might use two areas of automation for this one task. First, you outsource the writing to a freelance ghostwriter. And second, you use the built in scheduler tool on WordPress to post the blog for you. There are even tools that can add the blog link and message to social media accounts for you.
Not all of the blogging process is automated. You still do the brainstorming, add your unique personalization to the content, and upload the item to your blog. But even those can eventually be automated if you find your own talents to be more profitable if you focus on product creation and let a virtual assistant handle the daily blog tasks.
Don’t be afraid to let go of control of your business. It’s a necessary part of the growth process. Find people and tools that you can trust – and don’t be afraid to replace them if you find they’re not working for you.