Too many founders think their business comes ‘alive’ when they make their first dollar. It’s a big moment to celebrate for sure, but your business isn’t alive yet, you’ve just created a puppet. At this stage, you’re pulling all the strings. You’re making all the decisions, meeting all the sales and delivering the products. After that you probably have to go home and night and do the invoicing, stock ordering and be prepared to do it all again tomorrow. This type of business isn’t alive, it has no pulse, can’t make any independent progress or do anything at all unless the owner generates that activity. Without systems you don’t have a business, you are the business.
Systemising and process development is the first step in getting ready to breath life into your business. Capturing the excellence in what you do every day and locking it down into a detailed process allows you to deliver with simplicity and consistency. When you get to a defined moment in the customer journey (website enquiry, product delivery etc) you don’t want to have to think of what to do next? It should be based on the experience in what works the best in that situation and drives conversion and retention. It sounds like common sense, but it’s extraordinary that when the pressure is on and life gets complex that we revert to short cuts which don’t deliver us the results we need.
Simplicity is the king and consistency is the queen. System and process development should take the simplest path which delivers the quality the client cares about. Life is complex enough with the multitude of human interactions with clients, staff, suppliers, contractors, let alone your personal life. Keep your business systems simple and effective to ensure you have the capacity to manage the human complexities as they arise. Once you and your team start following your defined processes, your business is now starting to show the signs of life. A slow pulse starts beating as the activities start to be dictated from within the business itself rather than purely by the owner.
Technology and software platforms have given us the ability to liberate ourselves from being slaves to our own business through automation. Once you have defined the sequence of your systems and processes , the automations should deliver the required tasking to the right person. This is achieved by developing clear pipeline stages across the lines of operations of the business which require distinct action to progress the customer on their journey with the business. These pipeline stages also provide the framework a unique message for the client as the mature in interest and engagement with your business.
There are a multitude of Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) platforms which allow the ability to not only capture data, run reports and set automated tasks based on events.
Once automations are set to drive activity, the level of ‘independent life’ in the business is starting to grow. At this stage, the owner no longer has to make every decision, but let’s the CRM drive progression through the task automation. The owner still manages to maintain control because the system is built through their experience and should deliver their standards.
This initial level of automation is not the end but the beginning. The constant quest for improvement and learning is continually delivered through refining and tweaking the systems. Now the business owner has been liberated out of the weeds of low value operational activities, they should be looking to monitor the health and performance of the system using data and reporting mechanisms from the CRM.
The reality is systems development and process improvement is all about time. It’s about ensuring that business owners and managers have the capacity to focus on the most important activities to grow the business rather than being consumed in the administration of the day to day.