The Importance of Systems to Stop the Pain

How many times have you said to yourself, I need to find someone to do that for me? I just don’t have the time!

Especially now that all of your efforts are starting to pay off and your business is growing.

Have you ever received an email with another inquiry about hiring you through a referral and you cringed? Ouch, that hurt…

Not that you can’t use the money, but because you really cannot take on more work…or your current clients may suffer.

Doing it Solo Ain’t Easy

The most common problems that solopreneurs face includes: capital, time management, lack of business processes and procedures, just to name a few.

Many of these issues can be solved through the development of business processes that ensure smooth operations.

It sets the tone and expectations of anyone that joins your team.

Before you venture out and start looking, take time to look at how efficient and productive you are.  Do you have procedures in place?

It IS important to have some sort of system in place so that any additional support you decide to work with is very clear and in sync when it comes to your business needs, your brand, and your expectations of the service or products that you provide to your clients.

Planning Saves Time

Having worked with business owners who have no plan to others with not only a plan but documented rich processes…I have gained a new appreciation for having systems in place.

Yes, I always knew that was important, but it wasn’t until I started working with a client that has the majority of her business operations documented that I began to actually “feel” the benefits.

Sure, I worked in corporate america for many years and we always had standards and procedures to follow, (it was forced down our throats) but I think my innate subconscious fight against the system caused me to not embrace the importance of it. After all, that’s something else I can work on later..right?

When a detailed plan is in place, and your team members understand what is needed, your time can now be spent on other things.

Systems Sets Boundaries

When I initially spoke to this client, she mentioned that:

  • She use to do all of the tasks she was asking for assistance with herself and she no longer wanted to spend her time on it.
  • She currently had an assistant, but she was moving on to a new career.
  • She was very detailed oriented.

My first thought was great, I am sure this will work out and she is gonna love me! Let’s get this party started.

I received a pdf of processes and procedures and I was blown away.  For a minute, I had to stop and question if I was “really” ready for this!

Of course I was…I love a challenge!

Not only were there explicit details as to steps to be followed, there were detailed letters/emails that needed to be utilized for various situations.  I literally had to print it, get a cup of coffee and digest the information.  It was great.

EVERYTHING I needed to know was right there!

One of the BEST results of having such a system in place is that it has allowed my client to execute healthy “boundaries”.

She is able to create time to work ON her business and have quality time for herself.

She is very specific about her boundaries with her clients as well…we are ALL in sync with how she wants things to be handled and there is not one ounce of confusion.

Just Get Started

The first step is to just get started. It’s always nice to know where we start to celebrate our achievements!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Create a Plan. How do you know where you are going if you don’t take that vision and make it concrete?  Take a step back, consider where you were, where you are so you know where you will be. Here is one tool that is helpful 60 Minute Strategic Plan
  • How are you communicating?   For a solopreneur to be successful, a good communication system i.e. email, paging, Short message service (SMS) e.t.c. must exist to ensure that all necessary communication is clear, fast and reliable within and outside the business.
  • Incorporating time management systems: To be effective for a solopreneur, there has to be a time management system in place. A time management system will help identify where you are possibly wasting time and where you may be able to gain some valuable time back.  If you are online all the time, you may want to start with Rescue Time (thanks Nicole). Or try one of the free time tracking software to measure yourself.
  • Build a team:  Build a reliable and efficient team to ensure that your business can still run smoothly without your presence. Having business management/time management systems alone is not enough to tackle common problems faced by solopreneurs when running small businesses. This is because the systems on their own are useless if you do not have an efficient team that knows how to exploit them fully. A good efficient team is therefore important to ensure that you eliminate most if not all common business problems faced.

One of the 1st business books I read, that I highly recommend is “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber.  I cannot get the ultimate message out of my head:  I have been operating as a technician and not the owner.

I spend too much time working IN my business than ON my business.

I am creating a system so that I can grow even more and step to the next level…what about you?

This post is part of the this months Word Carnival with a group of fabulous bloggers where we are discussing “How to Solve Small Biz Problems: The Art and the Science” Please visit and comment on the other valuable posts!

  • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    This is a great introduction into the topic of systems, Michelle. I think you could expand on this and write an entire book, if you wanted. Glad to see you’re back on the blog!

  • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    This is a great introduction into the topic of systems, Michelle. I think you could expand on this and write an entire book, if you wanted. Glad to see you’re back on the blog!

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Tea…I agree..this is something I have been toying with since I began my business and it was suggested to add that as a service….maybe this spark with push me there.  

  • Sharon Hurley Hall

    You’re not the only one, Michelle. I’ve been fighting my way out of that pigeonhole for a while – thanks for sharing these lessons.

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Sharon!

  • Sandi Amorim

    It is a great reminder that systems work, and we need to review systems now and then to make sure they keep working. As @teasilvestre:disqus suggested I’d love to see an ebook or workbook on this! 

    • Michelle Church

      Yep…review the systems to make sure they KEEP working..inspect what we expect!  Thanks!

  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    I’m so with you on this one: “planning saves time”. Planning doesn’t have to be only for the big things, either. A simple plan for the next hour of your day can really help you stay on target and not wander off into “I just have to check my Facebook page” land. I track my time using Harvest and what an eye-opener. Things take a lot longer than I think they do! 

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Carol…It amazes me how many people have no plans…I am truly not the best at it, but I will take a moment..even if it’s just handwritten..there something powerful about having a plan..Appreciate your comment…

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks for the comment Carol..I am gonna check Harvest out.  I need a new system for tracking and invoicing…

  • Nicole Fende

    Yes!  A few other benefits to systems and documented processes.  You can’t help but evaluate if this is really something worth continuing to do at all.  Documenting also gives you a chance to consider the workfow and efficiency.

    One last tip – give your process document to someone “blind” and see if they can successfully complete the task.

    • Michelle Church

      Love that tip Nicole…Thanks..

  • Annie Sisk

    “I have been operating as a technician and not the owner.” – YES, Michelle, this is the thing I’ve noticed with a LOT of clients. We get seduced into technician or as I call it “lineworker” stuff because it seems simpler (key word there: SEEMS) than spending the time to first create a vision, and then institute the systems to achieve that vision, leaving the line work to actually USE the systems. 

    • Michelle Church

      Hey Annie..We work hard don’t we?  One of my goals for 2013 is NOT to so much of the technician for sure..there’s a change a comin’.  Thanks Annie

  • SandyMcD

    Systems create boundaries.  That is a line to remember Michelle.  Especially on the internet where we live in boundary free territory and can be absorbed in wanderlust for hours before we realise that we just lost that productive time.  As a soloproneur, creating routine systems to work on our business is hard work, because like you most of us our soloproneurs because we found it so hard to live within boundaries.  But when you realise that systems also create freedom, because you are productive and effective and so you have more time, than you not only embrace them, you learn to love them!  Thanks for giving me that little hook: Systems Create Boundaries to remind me going forward!

  • Nick Armstrong

    Michelle, I love the thought of creating systems to offload the tasks that I just don’t want to do, but I often fail miserably because I either exceed the scope of the task I was assigned, I uncover existing problems that can’t be systemized, or I have to take such a unique approach to each project that a truly systemized process is next to impossible because it would be incredibly long and detailed.

    What that says to me is that I should get incredibly clear on the things I enjoy doing in my business and the things I don’t, and refine my scope and offerings to more narrowly conform to the things I enjoy.

    Great post!

  • Personal Injury

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