When running a startup, getting bogged down in the details is easy. There are a million things to do, and it can be tough to prioritise what’s most important. But if you want to be successful, it’s essential to focus on the things that will impact your business the most. In the early stages of a startup, that might be building your product. In the later stages, that might be focusing on strategy.
As businesses grow, they often become more complex. This can lead to several problems, such as:
- difficulties in replicating the business model
- higher stress levels for the owners and employees, and
- increased risk of failure.
One way to overcome these problems and focus on what matters most is to systematise the business.
Systematising a business
Systematising a business means creating systems, procedures, or processes (systems) that employees can follow to replicate the business’s success. For example, documenting the steps needed to complete a task, creating templates for tasks that are often repeated, and creating checklists to ensure that all necessary steps are completed.
Creating systems can help to improve efficiency, quality, and consistency. It can also help reduce the reliance on you (or key employees). This is because other employees can follow the systems in place even if you are unavailable.
Systematising a business can be time-consuming, but it is typically worth investing time and resources.
Would your business benefit from being systematised?
You could save yourself time, effort and money. Systematised businesses are not only less complicated and stressful to run, but they are also generally more valuable. They have a greater likelihood of success and require less specialised skills to operate due to their systems. Therefore, the lower risk is always more valuable.
When and how should you systematise your business?
Creating systems is something that is best done as you go along. But it’s never too late to develop systems. Don’t be daunted by the process and put it off.
Start by identifying the different areas of your business (refer to the examples below). For each area, ask yourself what needs to happen and when for things to run smoothly. Write down these tasks and timeframes (you could also add them to a calendar or scheduling app), so you can see exactly what needs to be done and when.
When you understand the tasks that need to be completed (and by when), think about how to streamline them. Can any of the tasks be automated? Is there anything that can be delegated to someone else? Are there any systems you can implement to make things easier? The more time you spend thinking about this, the more you will streamline your business.
Following this step, you should document these systems in an easy-to-follow and understand way. It’s essential to keep them as simple as possible to ensure they can be followed by anyone, regardless of their skill level or experience.
The key areas of your business that need systems
There are many areas of your business that need systems to run smoothly. Here are some key areas that you should focus on:
Your business operations need to be planned and organised to be efficient. A straightforward process for your operations will help you avoid errors and keep your business running smoothly.
Have a human resources plan in place so you can effectively manage your employees. This includes things like hiring, training, and managing employee performance.
Make sure your books are in order, and you have access to the financial information you need to make sound decisions for your business.
Your sales process should be clearly defined and documented, and this will ensure that your sales team knows what they need to do to close deals and hit their targets.
Your marketing efforts should be carefully planned and structured to attract customers and grow your business. This includes activities like advertising, public relations, and market research. A well-designed marketing process will help you reach your target audience and achieve your marketing goals.
Good customer service is essential for any business. Your customer service process should be designed to deliver the best possible experience to your customers.
Create systems that scale
As your business grows, you will inevitably need to scale your operations to accommodate increased demand. However, you will also need to adapt your systems to accommodate your growing business. This is perfectly normal, as you will likely find that some of your systems no longer work as well as they did when you were a small company.
But how do you know which systems to scale and which to leave as-is?
There are a few key areas where you will likely need to make changes to your processes as you scale. For example:
As you add more employees, you will need to revisit your hiring, onboarding, and training processes.
As you get more customers, you will need to update your support process to ensure every customer has a great experience.
Sales and marketing
As you generate more leads, you will need to create a process for efficiently converting them into customers.
However, scaling your business operations and systems is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding which systems to scale.
First, you’ll want to identify which systems are most critical to your business and which can be handled with less staffing. Next, you’ll want to consider which systems are most likely to experience an increase in demand and which can be automated or outsourced. Finally, you’ll want to decide which systems will give you the most significant return on investment.
Changing your systems can be daunting, but it is essential for maintaining a viable (and valuable) business. By carefully considering the above factors, you can ensure you’re scaling the correct systems for your business.
Why are systematised businesses more valuable?
Not only do systems make a business simpler to run, but they also make it more valuable. This is because organised businesses tend to perform better and don’t require as much specialised skill to run, making them lower risk.
A systematised, documented business will show potential buyers or investors that your business is well-organised and has systems that anyone can follow. This will make selling or financing your business easier and could help you get a better price.
So, suppose you’re considering selling your business or seeking investment. In that case, a systematised, documented approach may be worth considering. It could make your business more valuable and lower your risk of people underestimating what is involved. It can also help to maintain control whilst raising investment and growing the business.
But no matter what stage your startup is in, one of the most important things you can do is to systematise and document your business. That is, build systems that scale. This will help you to improve the efficiency of your business and make it easier to train new staff members. It will also make it easier to raise capital or sell your business should you ever decide to do so.
If you don’t have systems for every aspect of your business, now is the time to create them. This will free up your time to focus on the things that matter most.