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Many entrepreneurs start a business and end up having a job. The difference between owning your job and owning a business is the different systems used to run the business. These systems determine the functioning and structure of the company.
Many small business owners are content to own a job. They want independence. They want to be able to work for themselves. But others are trying to turn their business into a stand-alone entity, which gives them more freedom. They may be away from the business for months, but when they return, they find that their business is still running like clockwork.
Whether you stand out on your own because you want the freedom or scale to sell, the key to success is in the systems. These systems run the business. They determine the steps needed to create orders, sell products, deliver goods, and invoice customers. If you have consistent processes and procedures, your customers learn to trust you.
Customer trust is about giving them what they want and doing it so they can rely on you. But you can’t do that if you don’t have set procedures and you wake up every day trying to get by.
Here are 3 ways to think about your business systems to improve and grow it.
1. Begin to see patterns.
Models tell us about the underlying systems. What are the phases at each stage of product development? What do customers tend to write in their online reviews? What is the average duration of each step of your invoicing process?
Models are the first way to start thinking about your business systems. This will help you see that the sales process isn’t as random as you thought. It probably follows a similar pattern each time.
This is the basis of many sales training programs. They have better steps to get someone to buy your offer. They know they can teach you how to create a gap between what your customer currently has and what they want. The sales process highlights this gap with an easy bridge to what they want (buying your product).
Once you start seeing the patterns, you may start wondering what the steps are for each specific business function in your business, such as sales, billing, customer service, and product development.
Related: How to Scale Your Core Product
2. If you had to explain what you do at each step, how would you describe it?
If you were training a new person, how would you explain to them what you are doing, so they can replicate it? This will help you see that the steps you follow form a pattern and create your process.
If you don’t think about it, the process develops naturally. Organic processes are not as efficient and effective as well thought out procedures. A good way to know if you are following the most ideal steps is to ask “Why?”
If you ask why you are taking each step, you begin to see if it developed because you took it that way or if you have a solid reason for it. If the answer is “I don’t know, I’ve always done it this way”, then become more active in creating the procedures. Don’t assume the way you did it is best – most of the time it isn’t.
Related: 3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Struggle Building Business Systems
3. Your business processes and procedures are like habits in your life.
This habit perspective explores the nuances of human existence and realizes that we go through life repeating much more of our daily lives than we realize. We want to reflect every day and every decision is unique.
But psychologists see the way we live as much more systematic. These habits guide our thoughts and behaviors. They form patterns that can be helpful or harmful to us over time.
A company’s processes and procedures are like an individual’s habits. They tend to form by deciding once. Then, faced with a similar decision, we make a similar choice. When we do this repeatedly, we begin to form habits.
Most people don’t optimize their habits. But the most successful companies optimize their processes and procedures. They don’t take their success for granted or assume that an employee will do everything right without training or structure. Instead, they optimize processes and then help employees do what works best.
Large companies spend large sums of money to improve their business processes. They do not risk their success by flying away. They know the value of the process.
Even if you want to stay small and own your work, there’s great value in following a process. It will provide consistent value to your customers. Clients can learn to trust you because they know what they’re getting for working with you.
With processes, you know what to expect. Without process, you hope for the best.
Finding ways to think systematically about your business will help create the right steps that will lead to better processes. This leads to more success. However you see your business, make sure you know the systems to keep growing and improving.
Related: A Four-Step Approach That Will Make Your Business Profitable