Customized business systems. You need them if you want your business to operate in its zone of genius, where it creates the results that make it irresistible to clients.
Whether it’s customized workflows, project management tools, or any of the number of systematizing, automating solutions freeing up time and money for entrepreneurs, you need systems to scale-- and succeed.
However, for creative entrepreneurs, “systems” are still not sexy -- even though “genius” is and always will be. It’s time that entrepreneurs fully understood the connection between the two.
The case for systems
These are the objections I hear most frequently from agency owners who are drowning in emails when I raise the issue of creating customized business systems:
“My business is unique; it can’t be systemized.”
“We don’t need systems. We just do the stuff.”
"It's not that complicated. We just get it done."
First, your business is not so unique that it cannot be systemized. In fact, if you have a successful business that means you are running a system that lives in your head. It’s time to bring that system out into the light and get out of the swamp.
Secondly, if your team is “just doing the stuff”, that’s great. After all, do we really need systems for everything? We don’t want to be swimming in a sea of operation manuals, right? However, exclusively relying on people to “do the stuff” has major limitations.
Allow me to put it bluntly: What would happen if you or a key player on your team who holds the knowledge of how it all gets done got hit by a bus? Would your business continue to not only survive, but thrive?
If the answer is “no” then it’s time to explore what customized business systems could do for you.
Your zone of genius
Creative entrepreneurs struggle with systems and processes because of one simple misunderstanding. They tend to believe systems and project management tools will make their businesses too rigid and stifle innovation.
On the contrary, systems exist to protect your zone of genius, so you can consistently produce quality results and take that glorious vacation where you aren’t chained to your laptop.
What is the zone of genius? It’s the aspect of your business that drives exceptional outcomes, consistently bringing you more clients.
Again, for those of you afraid of drowning in processes, you don’t need systems for everything, especially if you're a team of 10 or less. The key question to ask before determining what systems you actually need is: “What is the zone of genius in our business?”
Here’s an example.
One of my clients-- for privacy reasons let’s call them GrowingFast --is a marketing company with 10 employees that provides digital marketing services to a portfolio of healthcare clients. You might think their zone of genius is the marketing strategy that guides their campaigns. But what actually brings their clients in is their quick implementation.
With quick implementation, they are able to test ideas, reiterate, and deliver on multiple tactics through a lean and efficient team. So to protect their capacity for quick implementation, we created 100% customized workflows in a project management system and built lean processes that didn’t make the team feel tied down to operations.
Clients see innovation and creativity when projects continue to be implemented quickly
The business is able to onboard more clients and maximize profits without sacrificing quality
They have a team that functions without constant oversight and can make autonomous decisions, collaborating exclusively with the project management tool Asana
Management can check the status of projects anytime
Best of all... the business owner was empowered to take his first-ever four week (yes, 30 day) holiday from his business
The 6 systems
There are six types of systems that every business needs to take into consideration.
Before we dive into them, here is a visual representation of how systems and processes work together.
Systems are collections of processes organized for a common purpose like “marketing” or “service delivery”. Processes are sequences of action steps. The step-by-step of a process is what we document in customized workflows.
There are six types of systems that small businesses should focus on. They are:
Marketing systems to attract clients or customers
Sales systems to convert prospects into clients. Sales is typically the final responsibility a creative entrepreneur hands over when building and scaling a business
Delivery systems identify how your services are implemented or how your product reaches the client in the most efficient manner
Support systems are administrative systems like the tools you use for meetings, project management and communication
Growth systems help you hire the right people and scale your team
Training systems reduce the friction for new hires so that they can get up to speed in less time
Whatever your zone of genius is should determine what mix of systems and processes you create.
Returning to the example of GrowingFast, our primary focus when developing their customized business systems was the “Service Delivery System”. That’s their zone of genius and that’s what we needed to protect to help them scale without sacrificing quality so that the business owner was freed to focus on business development.
It’s about innovation, not rigidity.
Afraid that project management tools or customized workflows will make your business too rigid for innovation?
Fear not; the opposite is true. The goal of customized business systems is to free the key people in your business to have more time to innovate.
If you’re building systems and processes without understanding what you are truly protecting then, yes, absolutely, you might end up drowning in systems.
But when you take the time to identify what your business’ zone of genius is, then you’ll create exactly the right mix of tools to help you scale and succeed. And maybe even take that month-long vacation!
How can systems and processes work for your business?
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