Systems Make Your Business Work Better

Over the past two months I have had the privilege to attend some great workshops and seminars.  I love learning new things and finding new ways of accomplishing results faster.  Each time I attend an event I walk away with at least one great tip I can share with my clients.

I know I have written about systems before, but I couldn’t resist sharing some new insights on why I stand behind the strong belief that systems make your business work better.

What do I mean by systems?  

A system is the process you take to complete a task to obtain the right result, consistently and efficiently.   A good system identifies the steps you take, the resources (time, money, equipment, skill) you need and the outcome desired.Tea break time at work

As a business owner or manager, it is important to clearly establish the systems that are needed so that the actions taken by yourself or your team are consistently moving your business toward its strategic and operational goals.  In addition the steps you take must reflect the needs of your customers,  fit your team’s skill, and effectively utilize your team’s skill, the time available and the company’s money or other resources.

Three steps to creating good systems.

1.  Record as you go

One of the easiest and fastest ways to create a system is to record the steps you take as you complete different tasks.  These procedures will allow you to repeat the same steps time after time.  They will also allow you to delegate these tasks to others and speed up training.

If trying to write it all down is too time consuming, consider taping yourself as you go through the steps and having an assistant type it up for you.   I have also asked employees to assist me in recording the steps for their own job.  Who better to ensure its right than the person who does that task every day!

2.  Can technology save time, money or improve  outcomes?

 One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is leaving manual systems in place too long, or failing to consider technological options that are on the market today.    Cost of purchasing, training and a lack of knowledge of how software will really make a difference are the most common reasons but they could be costing you and your business profits!

One company I worked with had a very old, yet (in their mind) functional computer.  Three times in the  prior six months it experienced down time.  These breakdowns caused a loss of data (which had to be reentered by staff), slowed response time to customers (staff didn’t have access to the information they needed nor did they have access to the database which allowed them to process customer payments.  On top of the down time, a computer specialist to retrieve lost data and troubleshoot the problems.  All of this was inconvenient, not good for productivity, customer service or for cash flow!  In my estimation Time Wasted _ clock in bin 9491623_sthey lost almost twice as much as the cost of a new computer.

Identifying new technology options that will integrate with existing systems is vital, unless the data can be easily transitioned.  In small businesses, accounting software and integrated customer management/e-commerce systems are two priorities you should consider to save time, improve customer support and improve profits.  The monthly outlay can be quickly recouped.

3.  Review Regularly

 Embracing continuous quality improvement is an imperative when you want to be a leader.  Every good system must integrate a review process on a regular basis.  A review allows you to determine if the process that is in place is still working, whether it is meeting the needs of the business and is efficient and productively aligns with your strategic and operational goals.

As part of the review process, obtain feedback from your coach, mentor, partner, employees or other sources to understand what options exist which would improve profitability, save time and other resources or achieve better outcomes.  External input is invaluable, as is basic observation!

Are you struggling with your business?  Are systems non-existent or ineffective?  I’d love to connect with you to delve deeper and explore options and how I could help you!

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Book Your complimentary Exploration Session today!

Gain the Competitive Edge

  “Your greatest and most powerful business survival strategy is going to be the speed at which you handle the speed of change. That speed of change is trend.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

 

If you work in the business field, I am sure you are familiar with the need to find your unique value in the market place.  Without this unique Finish Line 10797968_sattribute, your business becomes part of the masses.  It gets lost and goes un-noticed.

We all want to have a strong competitive advantage over the competition!

Standing out, offering unique value acts like a magnet to attract and retain customers.

 

Given that a competitive edge is a strong “must have” to be a successful business, why is that so many entrepreneurs (and even large organizations) fail to clearly communicate and demonstrate their unique value as a competitive edge?

Eban Pagan has coined value as the “universal human blindspot” — that attribute which costs businesses the most!  Failing to communicate and provide value to your customers is a huge drain on your revenues and profitability.

Knowing and understanding your value, and then establishing communication strategies to share your value with others is key.  How can you do this…. create a clear plan!  Planning frequently falls by the wayside in business endeavours even though it is so critical.

1.   An annual review is the first step.  

As a business leader, setting aside time to plan for your business.     Whether you take your team or a portion of your team on a retreat, create a strategy session with your board of advisors or your Coach, or create a solo-retreat it is important to focus solely on all aspects of your business.

During your retreat/strategy session, you want to exclude all external and day-to-day distractions.  Host this retreat away from your work place, away from the phone, emails and other distractions.  You want to use this focused time to identify where you are now and where you want to go, what’s working, what’s not, what would you like to change, what needs to be up-dated or eliminated.  HR, finances, marketing & promotion, operations and research are just some of the areas to investigate.   Don’t forget to evaluate your position in the marketplace, and where your competitors are too .  A SWOT analysis is a great tool to assist with this.

2.  Planning for the future is next on the agenda.   

I know, many of you either

  •  believe you don’t have time to plan
  • believe you plan but things don’t work as planned
  • or…  struggling to plan but sometimes just don’t know which direction to go.

Why Plan?

    • Planning provides competitive edge to the enterprise over the others which do not have effective planning. This is because of the fact that planning may involve changing in work methods, quality, quantity designs, extension of work, redefining of goals, etc.
    •  With the help of forecasting not only does the business secure its own future but at the same time it is able to estimate the future motives of it’s competitor which helps in facing future challenges.
    • Therefore, planning leads to best utilization of possible resources, improves quality of production and thus the competitive strength of the business is improved.

 

He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.

Victor Hugo

Let me Help

If you need help with your annual retreat (as a group or as a solo-preneur) I’d love to assist you.  With more than 20 years as a profitable entrepreneur, I have walked this path, and as a Coach I have helped others do the same.   Contact me so we can discuss how we can work together!
PS…. consider joining my Hit the Ignition Switch summer quickstart program… it’s a great way to start the process.  Bring a Friend Special ends June 9th, 2013 at midnight … so don’t delay!

Uncertainties Aside

In my March 30th post, I spoke about the top three excuses people use to avoid spending the time and energy necessary to plan for success.  In continuing on the planning theme, I will explore the benefits of planning and how they can push uncertainties to the sidelines.

I frequently make the analogy between a road map and the plans created in business.  Your vision is the destination and what will be achieved when the implementation plan (your business road map) is successfully executed.

Image:  Stuart Miles | www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles | www.freedigitalphotos.net

Execute

Failure to execute a project well can be a major obstacle for a business leader.  Failing to execute can result from a lack of clarity of what is to be done, lack of understanding on how to implement steps, or procrastination or even fear of failure.

Your business or project plan should outline in detail

  • the steps that need to be taken & how they will be accomplished,
  • who is accountable,
  • when that step should be started and end,
  • what resources are needed.

Your plan provides the clear direction that you and your team require to effectively and efficiently move a project forward.  It will also keep you focused on where you are at any point in time and able to celebrate the successes as you hit key milestones.

Mitigate Risk

Whenever you decide to implement a change, the decision is accompanied with some risk.  What happens if the changes are not successful?  What happens if… the cost savings are not realized? …or the profits aren’t increased? … or staff fail to be more productive?  Business leaders must learn to identify information quickly and effectively and make decisions with the information they have at hand.  Waiting too long can be costly in time, resources, and outcomes!  Making a decision too quickly can also be detrimental.

Planning reduces uncertainties by forcing you to look at what is on the horizon and anticipate these events.  You can then take steps to act, mitigate risk or change direction.  Part of the planning process should include a risk assessment.  What are known risks?  What are the limiting factors?  What steps would mitigate the risks?  How do the risks change when variables are modified?

Risk is further mitigated when you use any new information that becomes available to reevaluate your action plan and either stay the course, stop, or change direction.

Change Direction

Your plan is a working document but when you have taken the time to think through the risks and limiting factors associated with each stage, the need to make major changes should be all but eliminated.  Every change will have something pop up that was unexpected, or deemed to be a low or negligible risk.   As such, detours may be needed and the plan must be altered.

A change in direction can be viewed as a set-back or part of the change process.  It can also be viewed as an opportunity to make improvements or incorporate new options into the plan.

How will you react to the need to change direction?  With a strong plan, your ability to make informed decisions improves, which increases your   success rate.

 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

If you are ready to examine your business strategy,  plan a new project, review systems and processes to improve efficiencies  or implement changes to grow your business… contact me.   Let’s explore how my consulting, project management or coaching programs could help you.

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