What are Systems and why do you need them?
A system is a written down process for a particular task within your business. When collected together, the systems form the Operations Manual for your business.
Now, I can hear you saying, “Why would I need one? I work for myself/at home/sole trader.” Why? Because having up to date and easy to follow Systems keep work flowing smoothly, prevents overwhelm because you know what you’re doing and where you’re up to. They allow you bring in staff members and train them, they add value to the business when/if you ever decide to sell it and they allow you to hand over tasks to other people – such as family members – so they can help you. Systems save you time and money.
You already have systems for most tasks within your business; you just haven’t vocalised or written them down. Often the systems don’t actually work that well, because they’ve evolved over time, rather than been designed for maximum efficiency and ease of use.
- When you answer the phone, do you have a particular way of answering and a set of words that you use to answer? That’s a system.
- Do you have a procedure for registering new clients and recording their information? That’s a system.
- Do you have a routine for packing orders, checking them and posting them out? That’s a system.
- Do you have a process for receiving, distributing and answering emails? That’s a system.
Heck, we have systems for our housework, for our kids, for gardening. We just don’t recognise them and label them as such.
How often have you looked at some work for a client and had to figure out where you were up to with it? What had already been done and what still needed to be done? What if you had a written down checklist that began with the new client and followed their work through to completion and was then filed? How much time would you save, how much more work could you take on? How much more profit could you make?
How often has someone offered to come in and help you with some aspect of your business when you were overbooked and stressed beyond belief, and you said no because it was easier to do it yourself than to teach them how to do it? What if you could hand them a folder, walk them through it once, show them where everything is that they need and then leave them to it?
Are you one of those business people who talks of getting a VA one day “but just has to catch up with my emails/bookkeeping/orders first”. Imagine how much easier it would be if you could email your VA a document that tells them exactly how you want the work handled, complete with examples and text templates.
When are you planning to bring order and structure to your business systems?
Coming up in Part 2 – How and Where to start building your business systems.
Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started the site to share her learnings to help other Work At Home Mums become more independent and able to spend time with their families