Systems are one of five strategic pillars of any small business. Without good systems, so many of the key activities of the business, and its interactions with others, would be slower and less consistent. Without good systems business owners are left to handle work they find enervating, lack of systems detracts from our joy of running a business, and poor systems may kill our joy completely. It is so important to design systems, which are specific to your business.
The dictionary defines a “system” as “a set of principles and procedures according to which something is done; an organised scheme or method” – Business systems are no different, the organised scheme must be to get something done for a strategic business outcome.
Good systems don’t just help the business to run; they also support the other strategic pillars. Effective systems help make sure your strategy is not only consistent but consistently reliable.
Whenever we settle down to our desks, or open our calendars, or email, or pick up a pen, or a phone to talk to a client we are using some form of system. Perhaps the simplest of these is the notebook and pen. I have a morning routine. Let me share an example. Each day when I first sit down at my desk I open my calendar. I’m looking for the shape of my day, then I scan my todo lists and allocate time for the important things. Then I step away and make a coffee, which gives me space to assimilate, process, and mentally prepare for what needs to be done. Then I settle back at my desk and get on with it. It is my “getting going” system. It’s just the first of many systems I’ll access through the day. Your set of systems will be different, and they should be.
All good systems generally are designed to do one of a few things, I think these are the most important:
- Creating the time for you to focus on what you love;
- Making more money, by reducing costs.
- Unlocking sustainable profits;
- Reducing risks and uncertainty; and
- Unleashing scalability.
I don’t mention in the lists anything about technology, software, hardware, nor the mechanics of the system. All of those things help to support how a system is implemented, but none of them can design the system, nor define its purpose.
Your systems start with ‘You’ – They should free you to be you. To do anything well your systems need to be designed to do exactly what you want them to do. I’ll come back to how to design an effective system in a blog shortly.
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