Systems. The engine to any successful business. Every business needs good reliable, sustainable systems for themselves and employees to work to. Having systems in place will help your business run smoothly and efficiently, bringing control to your business, which in turn will lead to better profitability. Sounds good doesn’t it. Often when systems are mentioned to start-up businesses, you see fear come over their faces.
Like a lot of things in life, some people over think and over complicate things they have never experienced before. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a business. A successful business can take 10 years to be an ‘overnight’ success.
The activities we do in creating and scaling that business will determine how much of a success it’ll be. Like anything, the aim is to get started. Start with an easy system that can be put in place and is going to be used often, so you can quickly see the benefit of having taken the time to create it in the first place. This will then give you the motivation you need to have them in all areas of your business as it grows.
Here we’re going to look at 2 different types of systems.
These are systems and processes and online software systems.
Systems and processes. All systems and processes are easy to follow instructions of how to execute a task within a business. These can either be written instructions or if preferred, video content.
The instructions should be a step by step guide of how to do a particular task. The written instructions should be that easy to follow that anybody could come in off the street and execute a particular task within your business without asking you or anybody else for help.
As a start-up business, you won’t have any systems in place, but the trick is to start writing down or recording the tasks you are carrying out, so when you have employees in the near future, these tasks can be delegated to them.
It’s important to write the systems and processes from the start, because in the long run it’ll save you a huge amount of time and energy every time you take on a new staff member. As the instructions for them will have already been written, tested and proven to work. The aim is to create an operation manual for the business where all systems and processes can be found.
This becomes very handy if the person delegated, to let’s say, booking couriers to pick deliveries that need to be sent out to customers, is off sick. With the operation manual, any other member of staff can follow the process and book the delivery to cover for their colleague.
As you scale the business and the staff members increase, so do the activities within the business. Don’t be afraid to let employees write/document the activity to create the system.
Once each new system and process is written, test this by letting someone else follow the instructions created, to prove it works. Once each system is created, you can then add this to your operation manual.
A successful business can take 10 years to be an ‘overnight’ success
Here’s an example of a system wrote for one of my companies.
This shows you how basic simple instructions written down can create an easy to follow process. This is a process of how to book in and arrange a collection by our courier service for a product that has to be delivered to a customer.
Working Procedure: Book a Delivery with Courier: –
Log in to TNT account: www.tnt.com
Enter user ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enter Password: xxxxxxxxxx
1. Create Shipment.
2. To make things easy, have the postcode of delivery destination. Input this into postcode and TNT will automatically find address. Select the correct address.
3. Input details and phone number of the receiver.
4. Enter description of goods.
5. Add shipment value.
6. Select package type you are sending.
7. Input quantity, weight, length, width and height.
8. Press ‘Continue’.
9. Selections. Select pick up time and latest pick up time. If you don’t want the driver there in between certain hours select “Not between “ hours.
10. Choose price.
11. Select email address you want the documents to be sent to.
12. Press ‘Continue’.
13. Print off documents. On standard order there should be 3 documents. 1 bar code to stick on the box/item being delivered. The 2 other documents are for the TNT driver to sign on collection. 1 copy for Concept Pools and 1 for the TNT driver.
14. All done.
As you can see this document is very simple and self-explanatory but very effective. So easy, that even I’ve used it when I needed an urgent delivery to be sent out on a Friday evening when everyone had gone home for the weekend.
It was the first time I’d ever booked in a delivery, and I’m glad to say it all worked out. The delivery was picked up and delivered to the customer.
Online software Systems: There are some very good cost effective software programmes on the market to help us manage and control our business at a click of a button, and also remotely from anywhere in the world. As a minimum, for a start-up business you should be investing in Xero, an accounting software package, Pipedrive, a sales software package, Ontraport a CRM software package for marketing, and Team Up Calendar, a calendar to help control staff movements. All of these systems can be paid for by monthly subscription, so will help with the cash flow. In this day and age, we have to use technology to our advantage. Here we’re going to look at the Xero accounting software package for an example. I don’t want to sound like a salesman for Xero, but when integrated into our business, it was a revelation and helped me personally to see in real time, our key financial information. Some of the key benefits of the Xero system are:
Invoicing: Keep your cash flow healthy by sending online invoices with online payment options
Dashboard: See how cash is tracking with a quick glance at your customisable Xero dashboard
Pay bills: Pay the bills on time, reduce office admin and improve your cash flow
VAT online: Make life easy for your small business with online VAT processing in Xero
Business performance dashboard: Get the full up-to-date picture of how your business is performing
This accounting software has been designed for small businesses and will benefit you and your business in many different ways. It’s imperative to understand the numbers in your business and having systems like this will help you understand your financial position and help making important decision a lot easier and simpler. It’s user friendly and you don’t have to be a qualified accountant to use and understand it.
There will be many more systems that you’ll need to add in to the business as you scale but if you start by getting the important fundamental ones in place at the start, then it’ll give you a good solid foundation for the future and an understanding of how important systems are to a successful business.