The Business Edge Blog

December 6, 2012

#1 Critical Ingredient for Sustainable Growth

growing plantSustainable Growth

There is an almost magical component to sustainable business growth, but it’s not obvious, and most business owners are not spending the time on it to reap the greatest rewards.  The key word is “sustainable” – you can have growth without this component, but it won’t be easy.

When you think of business growth…what comes to mind?

Great marketing?   Really effective sales?  New products?  Super flashy advertising?  Signing a huge new client?

All of these contribute to business growth, but there’s a more fundamental attribute found in sustainable, successful businesses. It can make the difference when it comes to taking your business beyond the brute force stage (where you’re putting in a lot more than you’re getting out).

That secret ingredient is Systems!

What are Systems? Simply put, effective Systems are a combination of written processes, tools, automation and applications that allow you, the business owner, to get things done the right way without actually doing it yourself.  A successful business is made up of a whole series of systems that work together in a seamless way, generally without any direct input or oversight from the owner.

Want to get a quick read on how well you’re doing when it comes to Systems in your business?  Here’s a short quiz you can use to judge your progress in Systems.  Score yourself from 1 to 10 on each statement…10 if you are in alignment with the statement, 1 if you aren’t even close.

#1 – As the owner of the business, I fully understand that my primary role is to ensure that the business is run by systems (step-by-step processes and procedures).  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#2 – All of the functions necessary to successfully run my company have been clearly identified and documented in a company operations manual.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#3 – We regularly consider outsourcing options to reduce expenses and increase efficiencies.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#4 – We regularly review our systems to ensure they are as efficient and effective as practical in delivering the desired outcome.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#5 – I’m confident that my employees would know what to do if the leadership team or I were not present for an extended period of time.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

What’s your score?

How did you do?  This quick quiz certainly isn’t comprehensive, but it will give you a pretty good idea of where you and your business stand from a Systems perspective.  There are several key ideas represented here:

  • Do you view your primary role – where you spend the most time (as the business owner) as purposely building your business…and the systems that run your business?
  • Are you documenting everything down to a level that a new employee could jump right in?
  • Are you and your team consistently looking for ways to improve?

So how did you score?  If you scored above 40…then you’re in pretty good shape…keep up the good work!

If you scored between 30 and 40, then there are some things to work on, but at least you’re headed in the right direction.

If scored between 20 and 30, you at least understand it’s important, but you have some work to do.

If you scored less than 20, then it’s a good bet that you feel that you don’t have time to read this post and you are working really, really hard all the time…and your business is at risk!

When you’re ready to unleash some magic and start building systems into your business, the best bet is to carve out some time – schedule it – and identify the big components of your business (where your business comes from, how you close business, how you fulfill your sales, and how you collect business income from sales).  Once you’ve got this defined, in writing, then you can start digging into the details of each over time.

Make sure you get your employees involved…they probably know the details in a lot of areas better than you do and they’re going to have to live with whatever system or process is developed – so include them in the solution.

Get an outside perspective – consider hiring a business coach or joining some kind of advisory board like The Boardroom to help you focus and get some insight that might be hard to come by on your own.

What is your experience with developing business Systems?  I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment section below.

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November 8, 2011

Don’t Forget You’re Not Alone

 You can’t know it all!

Every once in a while I run across a business owner who feels badly about the things they don’t know.  But how would they know?  An attorney is taught about the law in law school.  Accountants are taught about the rules and regulations and GAAP in classes and studying for the CPA exam.  You are taught how to be a subject matter expert in your field.

One day you decide to start a business.  This is a whole new field of study.  You are still the subject matter expert in the business, but perhaps don’t know how to build or run a business.  How would you?  That’s a whole new field of study that you may not be an expert in!

You’re not alone.  Think of the people you do business with.  Your dentist, your doctor.  Do you want them to be experts in dentistry and medicine, or in running a business?  Where did they learn to run a business if they are out on their own?  Chances are they hired others along the way to help them in areas they were not experts.  Why should it be different for you?

You’re not alone.  A lot of business owners have questions along the way.  A strong business support team includes your attorney, your accountant, your business insurance agent, your business banker and a business coach.

Do you learn best in a group?  Consider joining a MasterMind or Boardroom group led by a business coach where business owners can ask their questions in a safe environment and share best practices with other business owners.

Do you work best one-on-one?  A business coach typically offers individual coaching also – one of the fastest ways to get direct answers to your questions.

Don’t forget you’re not alone.  There are other business owners out there with the same questions, facing the same issues that your face.  A business coach can help you find solutions.

You’re not alone.  What topics would you like feedback on?  Submit your comments and questions below.

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