When you’re building your business, there are so many things that need to be done — and that includes tasks that we don’t like, don’t want to do or simply find challenging. These tasks are often in the form of creating various business systems and processes that are all too easy to put on the back burner.
However, if you want to build a business that’s sustainable, getting over these mindset hurdles and tackling some of these tasks that don’t seem all that exciting or important is crucial.
As an online business manager, one of things I often focus on with my clients are their systems and processes. And it’s not uncommon for my clients to ask me why these are so important — especially if nobody else outside their business is going to “see” them.
The short answer: business systems and processes are the foundation of your business. They can save you time, money, energy, and even your sanity.
Tackling a complete overhaul of all your business systems and processes can seem like a pretty daunting task, but like anything else, breaking it down into smaller steps will make it manageable and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed.
Let’s take a look at why business processes and systems matter and some areas you can get started.
Your Team Needs a Strong Foundation
One of the common challenges I hear about from clients is that their team sucks up all their time. Whether it’s answering questions, looking for statuses and deliverables, or spending time fixing or redoing things, supporting your team can suck up a lot of time each day.
That’s exactly why businesses processes and systems are needed.
By documenting expectations, you’re making things crystal clear for everyone. When you outline repeatable tasks and frequently asked questions, your team has something to refer to before they start asking you.
As a leader, part of your role is keeping track of what is going on. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find things and wasting time trying to track down what is going on. To stop this from happening, I recommend using a project management system — because then everyone is organizing and tracking projects in the same way, once again saving time and frustration.
Another area to consider documenting are your systems or processes specific to reviews and quality control. Efficiency can be impacted when you’re having to constantly edit and change work that has been done after the fact. Having a process in place for ensuring your team runs some basic checks before things gets to you — like spellcheck, grammar check, and a link check — can greatly reduce what you need to update when it comes to review time.
On a final note, if you don’t currently have a team, there’s still great value in documenting these types of business processes and systems. As your business grows, it’s likely your team will as well, so having all this information available at the time you onboard them will make the experience that much better for both of you.
Find the Bottleneck
Bottlenecks are a common thing that can happen in business, especially as you grow and scale. Commonly, the biggest bottleneck in a business is often the person running the show. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but often it’s the result of multiple factors.
Now, I can hear you thinking, “But Tressa, how can I be the bottleneck? Not me, not in MY business!”.
A few examples of you being the bottleneck might include:
- Your team can’t function without you.
- Your team is constantly waiting on you for follow-up.
- You end up doing all the things because no one else can.
- There’s too much information that lives only in your head.
- You need to approve every single thing before it goes out — even when you probably don’t need to.
Being aware of these bottlenecks is helpful because it can help you get to the point where you can quickly identify when it’s happening and address the issue.
Having business systems and processes in place can help address these challenges. Start by looking at:
- What are the areas of your business where things normally get slowed down?
- What steps can you take to address these?
- What sort of process could help these scenarios be avoided?
By figuring out the barriers and creating and implementing business processes and systems you’ll be able to increase efficiency for everyone.
Uplevel Your Ability to Prioritize
You may be wondering how prioritization fits into the bucket of business systems and processes, but hear me out.
While it may be easy to assume that you prioritize based on upcoming deadlines, an essential factor here is whether or not you should be the one actually doing certain tasks at all. This is about prioritizing how you best use your time across all areas of your business.
The strategies that helped you create your business are not often the same ones that will help you continue to grow your business. This is why learning how to prioritize tasks strategically is an important skill to master. By having the right business systems and processes in place, you can focus on the tasks that need the most attention.
To create a process for prioritization, you need to start with understanding where your time is going each day. Having time tracking data available will help you analyze key things like capacity, productivity, and profitability.
Once you have a good picture of how you spend your time, then you can move on to using the $10, $100, $1000 matrix. This method gives you a process to follow to assess whether you should actually be doing certain things.
For example, many administrative tasks fall into the $10 bucket. These are tasks that need to be done but are relatively easy to hand off to someone else. A $100 task is something that requires greater skill, like writing content, and is often harder to systematize — meaning you may or may not be able to hand it off completely. However, just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.
The $1000 tasks are likely to be the ones only you can do, whether it’s lead generation or consultation calls. These tasks are high value to your business, but can be neglected when you’re focused on lower value tasks.
By creating a process that looks at all your tasks, you then have a better ability to create a strategy that meets your business goals and allows you the time you need to focus on the bigger picture.
Changing Your Business Systems and Processes Mindset
One thing I’ve heard from business owners, particularly those in the creative space, is that focusing on or worrying about business systems and processes kills their creativity.
Listen, I totally get it. Systems and processes aren’t always the most exciting thing, and documenting and creating manuals doesn’t spark joy for many of us. For those that don’t enjoy structure, systems and processes can feel restrictive.
Here’s what you may not realize. Your systems can be whatever you want them to be. In fact, business systems and processes should be set up in a way that works for you and your team. And if that means it’s a little “outside the box” then that’s totally fine!
For those of you who consider yourselves to be a little more the rebellious side, there are still ways you can integrate business systems and processes into your day-to-day without stifling yourself. Processes and systems can be straightforward and easy-to-follow, and you don’t have to have them for every little thing. The purpose is to simplify, not drain you or make you feel stifled.
Setting up systems for your business is worth the effort, but setting them up just for the sake of saying you did is a waste of your time. As you work through this, know that your business systems and processes are an evolution. They can change over time.
When you find things aren’t working, there’s nothing stopping you from changing things up. That’s why I often recommend having a timeframe (like quarterly or twice a year) to revisit and reevaluate how everything is working.
Plus, decision fatigue is a real issue that business owners face. When you’re the one always saying yes or no to everything, it can be exhausting. Using business processes and systems can be a great way to get rid of some of those decisions — because you’re making the decision ONE time and then the process is all laid out for everyone (including you) to follow.
Documenting business systems and processes also allows for you to be more intentional. Yes, we all have to make decisions on the fly from time-to-time, but decisions we make in the spur of the moment can often be less than ideal. When you take the time to write things out, you’re giving yourself the space to really think about the what and the why of how you’re doing things.
Getting Started onYour Business Processes and Systems
By adding in business systems and processes where it makes sense, you’re actually going to free up the space that all those details eat up so you can actually get to focusing on more strategic activities.
Not only can doing this increase your business efficiency, but remember, you’re also doing a kindness to yourself and your team. When everyone is on the same page, things run more smoothly and stress levels can be reduced, making all of you able to work at your full potential.
Plan to start slow — make it a goal to document one thing a week or month. As time goes on, you’ll slowly compile your very own library of business processes and systems that can be used to complete tasks.