Ahh, entrepreneurship. Having your own business is wonderful, isn’t it? Or is it?
You started your own business because you wanted the freedom that comes with being your own boss. Unfortunately, reality has set in, and you find that you are now busier than ever and can barely find the time to eat, let alone enjoy running your own company. If you’re weighed down with the daily tasks that aren’t utilizing your strengths, then it’s time for you to introduce systemization into your online business.
Here are five easy steps to help you start systemizing today.
Identify Repetitive Tasks
The first step to systemization is to identify all the daily tasks and processes that you have in place. This includes everything from checking your email to setting appointments to creating and sending out your invoices. Open a new spreadsheet with six columns labeled, Inventory, Automated, Manual, Hybrid, Time Saved, Status.
Categorize Your Systems
In the columns on your spreadsheet marked, Manual, Automated, and Hybrid, check the category that explains the kind of system you will use to complete those tasks. Any tasks that can be achieved automatically through technology will be marked in the Automated column. The Manual column will encompass everything that can’t be automated. Those tasks that can have a combination of both will be checked in the Hybrid column.
Establish a Priority
You want first to complete those tasks that are more likely to have the most significant impact on your company’s growth. Determine an approximate dollar amount that you believe the system will contribute to your business and add it to your spreadsheet in the Time Saved column. You can also establish priority by determining which repetitive tasks are taking up the most time.
Create a Process
This is the most critical step in systemizing your business. You need to create a detailed process for each task. This means listing out every step needed to accomplish the job from the first step until the last. This step needs to be as detailed as possible, so you can provide the information to anyone in the company and have them execute the process without any problems.
Track and Optimize
To know how well your systems are working, you need to have a way to track the results. If you identify any problems in the process, you can begin to tweak and optimize them so that you can gain greater efficiency, sales, and profits.
Now that you have the basics of systemizing your business down, it is time to document and test their effectiveness.
Document Your Business Systems
A business system, or standard operating procedure, is a guide that outlines the exact steps that need to be followed to complete a task. Seasoned team members already know how to complete the tasks, and may think that documented business systems are unnecessary. But when you hire new employees or outsourced workers, having the business systems documented will help them complete their job proficiently and achieve early success. Recording your systems can take some time but following some basic guidelines can help you find success.
Here are five tips for creating effective business systems.
- Be the Expert – It helps if you are intimately familiar with the task that you are documenting. Your personal experience completing the job can help but don’t be convinced that your way is the best way. Talk to your staff and take notes.
- Make it Clear and Concise – When writing down the steps of a procedure, you want to be sure to use simple, direct language. Your business systems need to be understandable to anyone who has a basic, working knowledge of the industry.
- Remember the Details – You want anyone reading these documents to be able to complete the task without having to ask questions. Be sure to include helpful hints to the steps involved. These could consist of specific locations of valves and switches or where needed supplies might be stored. When it comes to the position of valves and switches, consider making labels that you can refer to in the system documentation.
- Link Related Procedures – Whenever possible, you want to cross-reference related procedures. Most business systems require users to perform multiple associated tasks for them to complete their goals. For example, you should link a process for using the Print Preview function in your software to procedures for the Print function.
- Combine Small Steps – Usually, when documenting business systems, it is best to only write one instruction per numbered step. However, you can often combine smaller steps to keep the document from becoming too lengthy. For example, “click the save button” and “close the application,” can be combined into a single step, “click the save button and close the application.” You can combine multiple steps when the concepts are simple.
Well, thought out business systems and documenting your standard operating procedures will leave your people feeling comfortable and confident in their ability to complete the task without having to ask questions.
Systemizing your business will take a lot of hard work and effort up front but will be well worth it in the end when you have more time to enjoy not only your business but your personal life as well. If you haven’t read my previous article on the 5 common mistakes entrepreneurs make when systemizing their businesses, you can get that here.