Why do so few entrepreneurs put a proper set of systems in place? Most entrepreneurs progress far in an intuitive and practical manner. In the course of building their companies, many install two or more excellent systems. However, this is often done piecemeal and not as part of a greater scheme of things.
Very often crucial soft systems are not in place e.g. planning and execution systems.
The result is that many owners experience serious strain each day. As owner you might consider expanding your already successful company, products and services but balk at doing as you are afraid that the load which you personally carry will increase.
The problem is that you are the system. All operations run through you. You experience unhealthy strain and overwhelm. Any change or expansion will only increase your personal load.
Most entrepreneurs tend to learn and grow by solving problems as they turn up. And most entrepreneurs work intuitively which mean they do not really think systems. I recommend installing easy-to-use interrelated systems from the strategic level downward.
How many of these systems do you have in place?
A strategic planning system with which you annually generate a brief, meaningful strategic plan (8 major goals) covering 12 months. Small companies are able to involve all their team members in developing their strategic plan. You would focus on you industry, on trends, your competition, and on your strengths. I use a wide-ranging conversation. Thereafter I take my clients through a second round which obliges them to think outside the box/their industry.
Do you have an operational plan? What do you visualise putting into place each month? Have you expressed this? I use a no-frills Balanced Scorecard (BSC) format. My clients track progress by means of milestones and measures. You need to measure progress – or the lack thereof.
Are you getting your message out? There’s no point in having strategic direction, doing well operationally and delivering real value to clients if too few people in your market know about you.
Many companies, including very successful ones, do not understand marketing as a system and especially as a process. Owners often think tactically (website, brochure, blog, etc.) and not strategically. The thinking that goes into their strategic and operational plans is not reflected in their marketing e.g. in their websites.
Marketing is a learnable topic. Do you approach marketing consciously as a system and process and ensure that you attract all the clients that you need, when you need them and at an income that you want?
Successful companies carefully install a system of execution consisting of a set series of annual, monthly, weekly and daily meetings centred around implementing brief plans. Owners often regard execution as simply “doing what is necessary” or “doing one’s work”. This is a mistake.
You need to drive the achievement of goals on your Monthly Plan with a thorough review and planning meeting once per month.
Institute a Weekly Meeting where your review and discuss issues and problems and learn from each other.
The most important planning and execution span is a week – as people are able to think through five days.
A Weekly Plan is extremely simple: One Wildly Important Goal and its sub-goals. This small plan ensures that you each day focus sharply on one important goal. Set aside 60 undisturbed minutes and focus deeply.
Keep a separate to-do list. Most individuals tend to focus on urgent, busy tasks to the exclusion of important goals (which build the business). How much time do you give each week to strategic, important goals?
Kaplan and Norton of Balanced Scorecard fame stated having a formal strategy execution system made success two to three times more likely than not having a system.
How you handle your relations, firstly, with your team and, secondly, with your external clients will determine whether you will achieve success or not.
Install a “Team First” system. Your team members are truly your most important assets. Make a concerted effort at understanding your workplace conditions as experienced by your employees. I use a system of measuring and reviewing 12 internal company elements. Transform your company over time into “a best company to work for”. Focusing on your team will create the foundation of a superb service for your clients. Team work requires a basic understanding of a few important factors. Teams are not simply a given. Many are dysfunctional.
Next install a Client system. Define your ideal client and install and thoroughly use a Client Management System. Ensure that you consciously use client management processes to deepen your relations and deliver superior results to your clients.
6. Mindsets and Blockages
We all operate from our own mindsets or paradigms. Some mindsets serve us well and some don’t. It is amazing how one can procrastinate or avoid action or live in denial simply because of ingrained beliefs that constrain us. It’s also amazing how easy it is to turn these beliefs around. Address blockages in a systematic manner. I use a simple, proven exercise on paper which is easy to learn.
What results could you derive from a systems approach?
You will be able to focus on more of the things that reflect your strengths and passion as you will not be the centre of day-to-day operations. You will have more time available. Overwhelm and negative stress will not dominate.
Your team will be totally involved. Each individual will have a clear understanding of his or her contribution and the purpose of these contributions.
Systems provide structure. Systems are learnable. Your team will provide superior products and services. You and your team members will feel and be in charge. The company’s profits of a confident in-charge team usually show an upwards trend.
Your company will gain. Your clients will gain.
Intuition is extremely important. But it’s not enough.