A lot of business owners make a critical mistake: they don’t pay enough attention to systems inside their business.
When that happens, they wind up doing a ton of extra work and using up valuable time and money.
Here’s what a lack of solid systems looks like in a business:
- “Reinventing the wheel” — doing recurring tasks manually and inconsistently when they could be done automatically
- Not having a set process to complete recurring tasks — so everyone is doing things their own way, often not the most efficiently, and there aren’t set guidelines
- Hiring too many people to do unnecessary jobs — which results in bloated payroll expenses and financial stress
- A sense of chaos and overwhelm, too many things to think about and keep track of, and always playing catch-up and putting out fires
If this is where you’re at, and you want to know more about why systems matter so much and how you can start streamlining your business so you can get out of overwhelm and into abundance — read on for some simple tips!
How one simple system can make a huge difference
To understand how getting one good system in place can move the needle for your biz, let’s use a very basic example that every business needs — schedule management.
It’s not unusual for a business owner to assume she needs to hire a personal assistant to manage all her scheduling. And there are certainly specific situations where a personal touch might be needed to make a contact or do a follow-up.
BUT, the vast majority of scheduling can be done automatically with an online calendaring system. This means paying maybe $20/month for software that is synced to your personal calendar; tracks open times; displays times for anyone who wants to book a phone call, Zoom meeting, or in-person meeting; allows people to schedule and confirm a meeting with you; adds that meeting to both your calendar and the other person’s; and sends a reminder with all pertinent info at the right time.
So an assistant is perhaps making a friendly initial contact via phone or email and then is sending a link — and the online scheduling system does the rest.
What this does is free up hours and hours each week for a VA or personal assistant to be working on high-touch tasks that either can’t be automated or shouldn’t be.
There are so many areas of a business like this that can be automated, made more efficient, and appropriately managed with AI. And there are many robust platforms today that can handle more than one of these areas quite seamlessly.
Here are just a few examples of areas of a typical small business that can become partially or totally automated systems:
- Password tracking
- Social media posting
- Sales funnels
- Financial and accounting processes
- Customer service and support
- New Team Member Onboarding
- Supply chain and logistics
- IT and technology
- Quality control and compliance
Of course, it’s important to discern where it makes good business sense to automate and where it doesn’t.
You could opt to have a complicated phone tree system, for example, instead of hiring someone to answer and direct calls — if your call volume requires that — but if that system is clunky, impersonal, and annoying, you might wind up losing frustrated would-be customers.
So how do you know which systems you need to work on, where you should be looking at tech/AI solutions, and where you should stay high-touch?
Where to start: SOPs
Every business needs SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures.
An SOP is a written guide for all the tasks and processes that are routinely done inside the business. It includes step-by-step instructions that anyone who performs that task or process is expected to follow.
How do you create great SOPs?
Start by having your team do a 2-week Time Study where everyone documents everything they do and how long it takes.
This is often a very eye-opening activity that every business should do at least once a year.
You’ll find that there are things being done in your business that take quite a bit of team time but deliver very little or no results for the business.
Eliminate these things! Think of the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This is the idea that 20% of what you do results in 80% of your outcomes — and, conversely, there are things you’re spending a great deal of time on that aren’t doing anything meaningful for your biz.
Doing a 2-week time study will show you what your “20%” activities are that are having the greatest positive impact on your business. Focus on those and let go of time-wasters.
Once you’ve done your elimination, then it’s time to create efficiencies through SOPs and leveraging technology and AI to automate processes.
Have everyone on your team (including you) document every repeatable process they do. What are the things you do on a regular basis (as opposed to one-off tasks)? There are probably a lot more than you think!
When you know what the recurring tasks are, have the person who is responsible for that task write down each step of it. Have all team members take responsibility for keeping SOPs up to date — and that means updating them if you discover a way to make a process more streamlined. It’s everyone’s responsibility.
Keep all your SOPs in a shared and well-marked place in your company drive. Platforms like Notion are great places to store SOPs.
A huge benefit of creating reliable SOPs comes at hiring and onboarding time: a new person coming into a role already has a guide for how best to perform critical functions of their job. It takes out a bunch of guesswork and keeps everyone on the same page.
Why and when AI is a great asset to your business
There are some things that AI is certainly not very well suited for at this time: visioning, highly creative tasks, anything that requires “soul” and uniquely human subtleties or variety.
But for many daily tasks, especially those that need to be done in the exact same way over and over again — in many cases, AI can do a better job and deliver better results.
Marketing is a great example of this, especially when it comes to data analysis. There are many marketing processes where you can use AI to get you more ideal clients than what your team can get you following manual processes.
Your next steps:
- Do a time-study
- Asses the time-study
- Eliminate the time wasters, things that are generating little to no results
- Create documentation for every process in your business (an SOP) and have the team keep the SOP’s up to date (Notion is a great place to create and house your SOP’s)
- As you create SOP’s look for ways to leverage technology and AI to save time and generate better results
One system every business needs is a hiring & onboarding system – it’s the only way to have a winning team that leads to a bigger bottom line.
We can help.
We help entrepreneurs and business owners, just like you, build a winning team and increase your profit margin.
Check out our proven Alchemized Teams system now HERE.
To Your Success,
Heidi and Anny