Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
Create Systems for Your Small Business
If you answer your own email, listen to your own phone calls, issue your own refunds, handle your own customer service - you could be killing the growth of your business!
A friend once said to me "If you need to do something more than once, then create a system." What she meant was that any activity in a business, if it requires repeating, could and should be systemised so that anyone can do it.
If you plan to grow your business, you'll get to a point where explaining procedures verbally keeps you tied up doing just that, and not focusing on building the business.
Let me share an example with you of a system that is easy to implement.
Let's look at the job of answering the phones at your business. How are they answered? Is it predictable and the same, no matter who answers? Do your clients know what to expect when they call you?
After 12 years in business my business had more than 10 receptionists. Each time a new person started, I would find myself telling them, again, how to answer the phone. So after hiring a few new staff, it dawned on me what a waste of my time this was, and we wrote a procedure that outlined:
- What to say (and what not to say) when answering the phone
- How to take messages
- How to screen calls
- How to answer Frequently Asked Questions about services and products
Now, if the receptionist is off sick, anyone can step in and answer the phones professionally and with the same predictable results - just by following the system.
In The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber, he examines the plight of small business owners and then provides a solution for changing things.
Here is one of Gerber's examples. Whether you go into a McDonald's in Beijing or Buffalo you can expect the same thing. The restaurants are clean, affordable, and the food tastes the same wherever you go. Usually the stores are run by teenagers who are following strict systems.
McDonald's has systemised its entire business. To ensure that all franchises are run the same, the franchisees receive plans and systems to follow. When they follow the systems they get the same results.
How do you start to systemise your business?
Create a system
Imagine your business could exist without you having to be a part of its day-to-day operations. Whether you ever grow to that level or not is not important - what IS important is that you set up systems that free you from the day-to-day drudgery of doing everything yourself, or having others be ineffective because they keep re-creating the same old wheels.
The important thing to note is that Gerber says that you will know if the system you create works "if it works without you to work it."
Implement the system
Implementing new systems requires creating manuals and systems for people to learn, and then again noticing what works and what doesn't. Trial-and-error plays a part in helping you to perfect your system.
Over time, and as your business grows, you'll need new systems.
Today, you can start by identifying one system, and starting to work on that. For example:
Do you need a system for...
- Writing letters?
- Opening and closing the office?
- Or hiring staff?
Remember, any system that you create, no matter how small, will help free YOU up to take care of the important job of growing your business.
The Ultimate Test: Can you leave your business for any extended time and have it thrive without you?