Don’t mention the ’S’ word: 3 mistakes business owners make when building systems

, | By: Tamara Simon | Tags: management, business systems, policies, procedures

Mention the words ‘policy’ or ‘procedures’ and most people either cringe or roll their eyes. Mention ‘systems’ to a business owner and the predictable responses are: “I wish I had them but …” or “I know I need them but …”. And then the ‘but’ is followed by something similar to “… I’m too busy” or “… I don’t have time” or “… we’ve got them and no one uses them”.

Why is it that most business owners know they need systems to have a profitable, productive, scalable and saleable business but few have taken the next step to implement them?

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There are three main reasons why businesses don’t invest the time and money to build simple systems:

1. They believe that they and their staff can and should be doing it themselves even if they don’t have the time or skill
2. They don’t know how to build simple systems
3. They don’t know where to start

All of these reasons are valid and true so which one resonates best with you?

Consider one of the best systemised businesses ever developed, McDonald’s. It’s a business run by fifteen year olds and it operates like clockwork because every task and customer service script is documented so it can be easily learned and followed. Do you really think McDonald’s built their systems themselves?

Everyone needs help to get things done, in life and in business because we’re all too close to what we do. For most of us, help is needed to tease out the steps we take through habit and instinct and turn this information into simple user-friendly systems. Even as a business systems specialist, I give my work to others, not only to check for typos but also to ensure it’s simple and easy to follow.

Here are the most common mistakes made by business owners while building systems for their business:

Mistake #1: Waiting until your business is slow before you start
Not having documented policies and procedures is costing you time and money now. There is never a good time to start building your systems. But the longer you wait, the higher the risk will be that this knowledge will walk out the door. Get over it and start documenting today.

Mistake #2: Building systems around people and not positions
It’s great when people start documenting what they do. However, unless the process is aligned to a key position within the business, chances are you will only get their perspective (which may include their bad habits) on how they do it rather than how you believe it should be done.

Mistake #3: Systems equal change
Tony Robbins said, “Change is inevitable, progress is optional.” You can write the best systems and procedures in the world and think the job is done. However, if you don’t address past implementation issues and build change management, ownership and training into your systems implementation strategy; it’s bound to fail.

Most people want clarity and structure in their work because once they have them, freedom, initiative and creativity flow. Why? Continuous improvement and new ideas are encouraged and therefore become embedded in the culture. When you see these signs of change, you’ll know the business can operate without you and your team being available 24/7.

Have you built your systems and procedures for a simple, profitable business you love? If not, which of these mistakes do you need to address to start building your solid business foundations?

Remember, most businesses are not scaleable or saleable because the knowledge of how things work remains in people’s heads. So be the minority business owner who embraces the ‘S’ word and starts building their systems roadmap for success today because as Michael Gerber reminds us, “People come and go but the systems remain”.

Do your business systems include induction proceduresrisk management procedures, or position descriptions?

Get policies and checklists to improve your business from $8.80 at CCIQ's template store.


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