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.


September 27, 2011

Open Letter to Millions of Small Business Owners

Is Your Mindset Growing As Quickly As Your Business?

Dear Business Owners –

Congratulations on your business success!  You’re doing things right.  Maybe it hasn’t been as easy as you thought it would be when you were just dreaming of owning your own business, but you’ve overcome the obstacles to get to where you are.

Has your mindset grown as quickly as your business, or is your entrepreneur mindset one of the obstacles that you still need to overcome?  My clients benefit from changing their outlook.  Let me explain –

>  When you first began your business you were probably personally involved in every aspect of the business, every decision that was made, and every dollar that was spent.  As your business has grown, are there areas of the business that you are still reluctant to delegate to anyone else?  Make a list of these.

>  You probably have line items in your financial systems that help identify what you are spending.  Do you have budgets set for those line items or are you just keeping track throughout the year?  Can you describe guidelines for expenditures in some of these areas?

>  Look at your personal physical location in your business.  Is your area positioned so that you are always working “in” your business when you are there, or have you moved away from the center of the activity to a location where you have the ability to work “on” the business as well?

I challenge my clients to try on a new mindset – the mindset that a corporate Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would have. In a corporate setting the CEO has delegated work to others, provided guidelines and budgets so that others can be responsible and held accountable for making good decisions in their areas of expertise.  The corporate CEO keeps a pulse on the business but works in an environment where they can work on strategic planning and growth plans to take the business to the next level.

Try on the CEO mindset today.  Look at your business as a corporate CEO would.  What would you change?  If you can’t make the changes today, define the steps that you can begin to take to get to where you need to be.

I promise the time you spend will be well worth it.



P.S.  The next time you print business cards, think about whether you have become the CEO of your organization!

Blog readers – what do you think?  Where has your mindset held you back?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Blog at