Processes and systems

If you’re a one-man-band or a small business, you may not place much value on formal systems and processes, but actually, they are incredibly important for enterprises of your size.

A system is the term that encompasses an entire operation, i.e. the act of going from A to B or before to after, i.e. the ‘what’. A process entails the steps you need to take to achieve this, i.e. the ‘how’.

What if?

Compare a business with 1000 employees to one that employs only one or two people. If something happened to a member of top management in the larger company, it would still continue to trade. There will be a whole host of practices and an infrastructure in place that help the business cope if the person/people at the helm aren’t there.

It would be a different story for a sole trader or one half of a partnership. No one knows what’s around the corner, and your plans could change in a heartbeat. This is where systems and processes come into their own…you could be laid up for a couple of months and need someone to step in and run your business. With clear directions, policies and operations in place, this could work. If these things are not present, however, it wouldn’t be possible.

It's not that sole traders/small business owners don’t have systems or processes, it’s just that most of them will likely be in their head—which, for the reason I’ve mentioned, is a bad idea. Even if you believe that only you would ever consult them, it’s imperative that you commit the details of even the most insignificant operations within your business onto paper (which is then duly digitised).

How do you know if you could be doing something better?

Without someone else’s opinion, you probably can’t. This is another reason why the defining and recording of your systems and processes is important. Doing something a certain way, just because you’ve always done it like that, is not reason enough to continue it. Things change: external pressures, markets and consumer behaviour, staffing and seasons…all of these could influence your operations and there could be ways of adapting to each variation that would benefit the business better. Just think: your way of doing things could actually be damaging your business rather than serving it.

As someone who has worked with businesses of all sizes and across numerous sectors, I will likely know of different solutions and methods you could adopt that will help your enterprise expand and grow. Streamlining is a common word in business; as I talked about in a previous blog, the economy is fragile at the moment and it’s likely that the UK will enter into an official recession during the coming months. Ensuring your enterprise is as lean as possible—a practice that is often underpinned by appropriate systems and processes—is something you should definitely be looking at right now.

Reduce the stress

If your business ran more smoothly, you would feel more confident about what you offer. If the systems and processes you apply free up some of your time, you could focus on productive tasks that could grow your business. Greater security and a business that’s scaling up rather than down will also be factors that could reduce your stress levels. Those two words—‘systems’ and ‘processes’—should not be something to fear…both should be working for you, making your life easier and less stressful. The more processes you have in place, the less time you’ll need to spend making decisions. There will be less confusion when dealing with third party suppliers or upon outsourcing work, and you will be able to scrutinise every single step of a process to ensure it’s appropriate and effective.

Automating something like your customer sales journey and/or your sales funnel will also reduce the elements you need to think about. If all you were tasked with is finding new leads, rather than the whole conversion of cold to hot prospect to buyer, you will get better at it, as you will be able to solely focus on it and give it your all. Automation will make your operations more efficient and consistent, which will present itself as greater professionalism to those on the outside.

Bigger picture viewing

When you lay out all your systems and processes, it’s so much easier to see where there are gaps and/or elements that may need tweaking, which is practically impossible if they’re stored in your head. Critical thinking is crucial if you wish to scale up.

Hopefully, you will now understand how important systems and processes are to businesses of all sizes—from the smallest to the largest. I can help you determine these—why not book a free chat with me to find out more?