How many systems does your business need to be successful?
Well, Business Owner – that is a tricky question. Because it’s not as simple as picking a number out of thin air, or looking at a table of contents in a generic operations manual.
The answer depends on your definition of success. There are many definitions of success, but to keep it simple, we’ll focus on these 3 – Stability, Growth and Profitability.
If you define success from a place of stability, your systems documentation will focus on getting everyone on the same page, producing predictable results in how you treat clients, manage and lead staff and balance resources.
If you define success as growth, your systems documentation will focus on finding ways to expand to new locations, adding additional profit centers, and creating a solid sales team and adding more products and services.
If you define success as profitability, your systems documentation will focus on pricing, operational activities, and keeping overhead in check as you evaluate and innovate the effectiveness of your infrastructure.
So, have you added it up yet?
How many systems does YOUR business need to be successful?
Before you spit out a number (zero to 1000, somewhere in between?) remember a few important ideas about systems:
- If you are open for business, you have systems. They may not be documented, they may not be replicable. But you do have a way to get results. We call that starting with “internal best practices” – and if we could find a way to get those best practices out of your head and onto paper, you would be on your way to ‘documented’ systems.
- A documented system takes many forms. It can be handwritten, a word document, excel template, audio or video recording, a checklist, or even a series of photo cards – as long as someone other than you can view it, and use it and without input from you, follow steps to get the result you want.
- Systems are meant to be innovated. “But that’s the way we’ve always done it” can be a blessing and a curse in some small businesses. It’s important to have best practices, but as the business grows, you may outgrow your systems. Knowing how to spot a need for innovation will keep your systems successful.
Based on your definition of success, how many systems does your business need to be successful?
We can’t tell you that. But we can offer this thought: As a guideline start with 5-10 core systems in each area of your business.
If you had 5-10 systems documented in each of the following areas, you would be well on your way to being a successful business by all definitions:
- Leadership e.g. (communication systems, promises, time management)
- Sales and Marketing e.g. (updating websites, follow up with prospects, payments)
- Finance e.g. (banking, saving, A/R reporting)
- Operations e.g. (work flows , technology, facility maintenance)
- Your Teame.g. (reviews, rewards, agreements)
So, in order for your business to be successful, by most definitions, you will probably find you need to document 25-50 core systems. Maybe a few more, possibly a few less.
The successful approach would be to just start!
– Coach Remy