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8 Areas You Need to Systemize to Sustainably Scale Your Small Business

June 29, 2022

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This is a guest post by Trainual Certified Consultant Adi Klevit with Business Success Consulting Group.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur that’s just starting out or a long-time business owner hoping to scale successfully, you need to systematize key areas of your business to support a ton of growth.

But why systematize your business? Well, growing your business and taking it to the next level can be done sustainably — or chaotically! 

If done chaotically, growth is unstable and doesn’t provide consistency, making for unhappy customers and employees. Often, a business that has grown without putting systems in place will be wildly inconsistent with their success — and that can be discouraging to everyone involved in the company. 

But if done sustainably (by systemizing your business for stable growth), it can provide long-lasting gains and continuous and consistent success. So, developing systems for your company is crucial to building a firm foundation for future, steady growth.

How to set up a business system

Before we jump into which areas of your business need systematizing, let’s break down the five steps you should follow to document and implement an effective system. 

1. Determine which process documentation platform to use.

Your business processes must be accessible to all, easy to understand, and simple to follow. This means you’ll need something more versatile and robust than a Word document, physical binder, or webinar to record your business’ processes. (Like Trainual… ahem.)

The best way to set up and store your business systems is to use a documentation platform. Here are the four things to look for in any process documentation platform:

1. Accessibility: Meaning, your entire team can use the platform.

2. Simplicity: Learning how to use the platform should take hours upon hours.

3. Supports all media types: You should be able to document processes using video, audio, written checklists, and even image files. Your chosen platform must support any necessary documentation format.

4. Permissions: Your team needs access to vital systems, but there may be additional documentation that is for certain “eyes only.” Your platform should allow you to determine which employees access what procedures and documentation.

2. Document existing systems.

Now that you have a place to store your systems, it’s time to document them. 

Determine the best format to use by documenting a few systems of your own and sharing the completed processes and procedures with your team. They can tell you what’s missing and help you determine the most appropriate documentation methods for your business. 

Then, make sure you delegate your documentation to the appropriate departments so they can capture the on-the-ground knowledge needed to get things done in a particular area. (Spoiler alert: you’ll find the most important departments in the next section.) 

3. Find holes that haven’t been systematized.

Run through the systems that you and your teams documented. Are there holes in your systems? Meaning, are there inconsistencies in any of these systems? Or, are there specific actions that each team member performs differently?

These are usually found in areas where your teams are having the most trouble — or where you consistently have to jump in to put out fires.

4. Build systems to fill any holes.

It can be tricky to document areas where one team member does things one way, and another performs completely different actions to solve the same problem.

In my years of experience as a business consultant, I've found the best way to determine the right business system for these types of actions. And that is: get every team member performing the work in one room and have them hash out the most effective process together.  

Here are some questions you can ask your team members:

  • What has worked best to handle this (job, issue, area)?
  • What was the result when you did it that way?
  • Why did that work?
  • Could it have been done in another way to get a more favorable outcome?

Once you’ve found the most successful actions from these questions, have the team document the process they've chosen. Then, have them run through it and see if their way works in practice. If it doesn’t, determine what steps are missing and add them in. After that, run through the system repeatedly until every aspect of the problem and/or job runs smoothly 

5. Perform a run-through.

Now that you have all areas in a department or business systematized, it’s time to test those systems. That starts with running through each process and procedure to ensure they work and are accessible. 

During a run-through, some systems will start another process in a separate department. These systems must trigger the processes you've set up in that separate department. For example, the end of the sales process will start the scheduling or fulfillment process. Business systems often interact with each other so that interaction also needs to be tested. 

Which areas must be systematized for a business to be scalable?

While it’s ideal to systematize your entire business, process documentation doesn’t need to hold you back. Here are eight areas that must be systematized to create a firm foundation for your scaling business.

1. Sales.

You can systematize almost every aspect of sales. For example, prospects should be put into customized sales funnels to ensure their questions are addressed, they’re qualified to purchase the goods or services on offer, and then sold the product or service. 

This type of systematization must be documented and connected to a CRM and any other systems used to ensure every step is tracked. The salesperson must have full access to prospect information to see where a potential customer is in the sales cycle. 

2. Human Resources. 

Hiring, managing employee complaints, firing, mediation, and any other actions that fall under human resources (HR) must be systematized. Not only do you need to guarantee that the same actions are taken for every employee to ensure fairness, but implementing systems in HR will enable your company to avoid legal trouble.

3. Customer Service.

Customer service can make or break a company. It’s vital that customer representatives know what to do with customer issues and that team members can help to improve customer experience consistently. Producing a fantastic customer experience — even when the interaction starts on negative footing — is the best way to build scalability into your company.

4. Accounting.

Accounting should never be inconsistent. That’s why there are so many automated systems available for accountants. But your accounting can’t be completely automated, either — and that’s where your business needs separate systems. 

For example, invoicing, billing, and refunds begin with a human interaction that must transition  to the accounting department for completion. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of systematizing this type of interaction, particularly when you plan to scale your business. I’ve seen companies that have simultaneously onboarded many new salespeople without proper system documentation. They had a flood of customer complaints simply because there wasn’t a written system for placing an order, getting billed, and then sending that completed payment receipt and order to the delivery area.

5. Product.

Whether your business provides a five-star hotel experience or sells promotional products, your system for delivering a product or service must be consistent. At the end of the day, the product you produce or service you supply is your entire business. So, make sure to systematize every aspect to give your customers the best experience possible. 

There are two areas where you can genuinely blow a customer away — one is customer service and the other is the product/service itself. Systematizing these areas is the best way to hone your product and service… and deliver it in the best way possible. 

6. Management. 

Management is one of the more difficult areas to systematize. But just like HR, there needs to be consistency and fairness integrated into any management system. Building management systems  can help establish a stable foundation for your company and give the business room to grow. 

Here are five management areas that need to be systematized: 

  • How and when meetings take place.
  • How you do your reporting.
  • How to create and follow strategies.
  • How to set up teams.
  • How to build accountability into the company culture.

7. Information Technology.

Information Technology (IT) is an area that’s often understaffed and underutilized.  Because of that, businesses are vulnerable to security breaches, data loss, and misuse of equipment. Make sure to systematize the vital IT actions that need to happen so that your team can remain connected, your business remains secure, and the infrastructure required to perform your duties continues to run smoothly. 

8. Marketing.

Systematizing marketing and promotion can be tricky. For example, what should you do if you run a clearance sale on an old product and drum up renewed interest in the merchandise — right as you run out of stock? Alternatively, if your yearly holiday sale doesn’t see the return that it does typically — yet nothing the marketing team did deviated from last year's sale — does that mean the system failed?

The best way to systematize marketing and promotion is to create processes and procedures for existing systems and build in necessary testing and changes. For example, a system can have a built-in trigger that says if only 100 units sell after three days, the team needs to do a, b, c to determine the next steps. 

You can build variables into a system to ensure the best results are always attainable.

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Article

8 Areas You Need to Systemize to Sustainably Scale Your Small Business

June 29, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is a guest post by Trainual Certified Consultant Adi Klevit with Business Success Consulting Group.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur that’s just starting out or a long-time business owner hoping to scale successfully, you need to systematize key areas of your business to support a ton of growth.

But why systematize your business? Well, growing your business and taking it to the next level can be done sustainably — or chaotically! 

If done chaotically, growth is unstable and doesn’t provide consistency, making for unhappy customers and employees. Often, a business that has grown without putting systems in place will be wildly inconsistent with their success — and that can be discouraging to everyone involved in the company. 

But if done sustainably (by systemizing your business for stable growth), it can provide long-lasting gains and continuous and consistent success. So, developing systems for your company is crucial to building a firm foundation for future, steady growth.

How to set up a business system

Before we jump into which areas of your business need systematizing, let’s break down the five steps you should follow to document and implement an effective system. 

1. Determine which process documentation platform to use.

Your business processes must be accessible to all, easy to understand, and simple to follow. This means you’ll need something more versatile and robust than a Word document, physical binder, or webinar to record your business’ processes. (Like Trainual… ahem.)

The best way to set up and store your business systems is to use a documentation platform. Here are the four things to look for in any process documentation platform:

1. Accessibility: Meaning, your entire team can use the platform.

2. Simplicity: Learning how to use the platform should take hours upon hours.

3. Supports all media types: You should be able to document processes using video, audio, written checklists, and even image files. Your chosen platform must support any necessary documentation format.

4. Permissions: Your team needs access to vital systems, but there may be additional documentation that is for certain “eyes only.” Your platform should allow you to determine which employees access what procedures and documentation.

2. Document existing systems.

Now that you have a place to store your systems, it’s time to document them. 

Determine the best format to use by documenting a few systems of your own and sharing the completed processes and procedures with your team. They can tell you what’s missing and help you determine the most appropriate documentation methods for your business. 

Then, make sure you delegate your documentation to the appropriate departments so they can capture the on-the-ground knowledge needed to get things done in a particular area. (Spoiler alert: you’ll find the most important departments in the next section.) 

3. Find holes that haven’t been systematized.

Run through the systems that you and your teams documented. Are there holes in your systems? Meaning, are there inconsistencies in any of these systems? Or, are there specific actions that each team member performs differently?

These are usually found in areas where your teams are having the most trouble — or where you consistently have to jump in to put out fires.

4. Build systems to fill any holes.

It can be tricky to document areas where one team member does things one way, and another performs completely different actions to solve the same problem.

In my years of experience as a business consultant, I've found the best way to determine the right business system for these types of actions. And that is: get every team member performing the work in one room and have them hash out the most effective process together.  

Here are some questions you can ask your team members:

  • What has worked best to handle this (job, issue, area)?
  • What was the result when you did it that way?
  • Why did that work?
  • Could it have been done in another way to get a more favorable outcome?

Once you’ve found the most successful actions from these questions, have the team document the process they've chosen. Then, have them run through it and see if their way works in practice. If it doesn’t, determine what steps are missing and add them in. After that, run through the system repeatedly until every aspect of the problem and/or job runs smoothly 

5. Perform a run-through.

Now that you have all areas in a department or business systematized, it’s time to test those systems. That starts with running through each process and procedure to ensure they work and are accessible. 

During a run-through, some systems will start another process in a separate department. These systems must trigger the processes you've set up in that separate department. For example, the end of the sales process will start the scheduling or fulfillment process. Business systems often interact with each other so that interaction also needs to be tested. 

Which areas must be systematized for a business to be scalable?

While it’s ideal to systematize your entire business, process documentation doesn’t need to hold you back. Here are eight areas that must be systematized to create a firm foundation for your scaling business.

1. Sales.

You can systematize almost every aspect of sales. For example, prospects should be put into customized sales funnels to ensure their questions are addressed, they’re qualified to purchase the goods or services on offer, and then sold the product or service. 

This type of systematization must be documented and connected to a CRM and any other systems used to ensure every step is tracked. The salesperson must have full access to prospect information to see where a potential customer is in the sales cycle. 

2. Human Resources. 

Hiring, managing employee complaints, firing, mediation, and any other actions that fall under human resources (HR) must be systematized. Not only do you need to guarantee that the same actions are taken for every employee to ensure fairness, but implementing systems in HR will enable your company to avoid legal trouble.

3. Customer Service.

Customer service can make or break a company. It’s vital that customer representatives know what to do with customer issues and that team members can help to improve customer experience consistently. Producing a fantastic customer experience — even when the interaction starts on negative footing — is the best way to build scalability into your company.

4. Accounting.

Accounting should never be inconsistent. That’s why there are so many automated systems available for accountants. But your accounting can’t be completely automated, either — and that’s where your business needs separate systems. 

For example, invoicing, billing, and refunds begin with a human interaction that must transition  to the accounting department for completion. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of systematizing this type of interaction, particularly when you plan to scale your business. I’ve seen companies that have simultaneously onboarded many new salespeople without proper system documentation. They had a flood of customer complaints simply because there wasn’t a written system for placing an order, getting billed, and then sending that completed payment receipt and order to the delivery area.

5. Product.

Whether your business provides a five-star hotel experience or sells promotional products, your system for delivering a product or service must be consistent. At the end of the day, the product you produce or service you supply is your entire business. So, make sure to systematize every aspect to give your customers the best experience possible. 

There are two areas where you can genuinely blow a customer away — one is customer service and the other is the product/service itself. Systematizing these areas is the best way to hone your product and service… and deliver it in the best way possible. 

6. Management. 

Management is one of the more difficult areas to systematize. But just like HR, there needs to be consistency and fairness integrated into any management system. Building management systems  can help establish a stable foundation for your company and give the business room to grow. 

Here are five management areas that need to be systematized: 

  • How and when meetings take place.
  • How you do your reporting.
  • How to create and follow strategies.
  • How to set up teams.
  • How to build accountability into the company culture.

7. Information Technology.

Information Technology (IT) is an area that’s often understaffed and underutilized.  Because of that, businesses are vulnerable to security breaches, data loss, and misuse of equipment. Make sure to systematize the vital IT actions that need to happen so that your team can remain connected, your business remains secure, and the infrastructure required to perform your duties continues to run smoothly. 

8. Marketing.

Systematizing marketing and promotion can be tricky. For example, what should you do if you run a clearance sale on an old product and drum up renewed interest in the merchandise — right as you run out of stock? Alternatively, if your yearly holiday sale doesn’t see the return that it does typically — yet nothing the marketing team did deviated from last year's sale — does that mean the system failed?

The best way to systematize marketing and promotion is to create processes and procedures for existing systems and build in necessary testing and changes. For example, a system can have a built-in trigger that says if only 100 units sell after three days, the team needs to do a, b, c to determine the next steps. 

You can build variables into a system to ensure the best results are always attainable.

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8 Areas You Need to Systemize to Sustainably Scale Your Small Business

June 29, 2022

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