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3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Simple Systems

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3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Simple Systems

There are three main reasons why businesses don’t invest the time and money when building simple systems.

Shhh, Don’t mention the ‘S’ word.

Mention the words ‘policy’ or ‘procedures’ and most people either cringe or roll their eyes. 

Mention ‘systems’ to a business owner and these are the predictable responses:

  • ‘I need them but …’
  • ‘I wish I had them but …’
  • ‘Yes, I know I need them, but …’

Then the ‘but’ is followed by:

  • ‘… I’m too busy.’
  • ‘… I don’t have time.’
  • ‘… we’ve got them, and they don’t work.’
  • ‘… we’ve got them, and no one uses them.’

Why is it that most small business owners know they need systems to have a profitable, productive, scalable and saleable business but few have actually taken the next step to implement this (or implement it fully)?

There are three main reasons why small business owners don’t invest the time and money to build simple systems:

  1. They believe they (and their staff) can and should be doing it themselves (even though they don’t have the time or possibly the skill).
  2. They don’t know how to build simple systems (not really).
  3. And they don’t know where to start (and still keep bringing in the cash).

They’re probably also suffering from decision fatigue. All of these reasons are valid and true so which one resonates best with you? 

So why are building simple systems the key to success?

Let’s consider one of the best systemised businesses ever developed.

McDonald’s is a business run by fifteen-year-olds, and it operates like clockwork because every task and customer service script is documented so it can be easily learned and followed. But do you really think McDonald’s built their systems themselves? 

Everyone needs help to get things done, in life and in business. Why? Because we can’t be good at everything or know everything, and when it comes to developing systems, we’re all too close to what we do.

Help is needed to tease out the steps we take through habit and instinct and turn this information into simple, user-friendly systems.  Even as a business systems specialist, I give my work to others; not only to check for typos but also to ensure it’s simple and easy to follow. 

In my book, The Five Little Business Pigs, I outline seven common mistakes to avoid when building your Systems Roadmap so to help you determine where you’re at, here’s the Top 3.

Mistake #1: Waiting until your business is slow before you start.

Not having documented policies and procedures is costing you time and money right now. 

There is never a good time to start building your systems. But the longer you wait, the higher the risk this knowledge will walk out the door.  So get over it and start documenting today.  

I tell my audiences and clients – start with 15 minutes a day because if you can’t find this time to start working on your business instead of in it, you have more problems than what you think.

Mistake #2: Building systems around people and not positions.

It’s great when people start documenting what they do and how they do it. 

However, unless the process is aligned to a key position within the business, chances are you will only get their perspective (which may include their bad habits) on how they do it rather than how you believe it should be done.

Mistake #3: Forgetting that Systems equal Change.

Tony Robbins said, ‘Change is inevitable; progress is optional.’  

You can write the best systems and procedures in the world and think the job is done. However, if you don’t address past implementation issues and build change management, ownership and training into your systems implementation strategy; it’s bound to fail. 

Most people want clarity and structure in their work because once they have this; freedom, initiative and creativity flow. 

Why? Because continuous improvement and new ideas are encouraged as they become embedded in the culture. And when you see these signs of change, you’ll know the business can operate without you and your team being available 24/7.

So are you building simple systems as your roadmap for a profitable business you actually love?  

If not, which of the common mistakes do you need to address to start building your solid business foundations?

Remember, most businesses are not scaleable or saleable because of the knowledge of how things work remains in people’s heads.  

So please be the minority small business owner who embraces the ‘S’ word and starts building their simple systems roadmap for success today because as Michael Gerber reminds us, ‘People come and go, but the systems remain’.

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