I won’t make you beg for the answer: Systems and processes. This is how you scale your online business.
Systems and processes are essentially just checklists that you use to run every aspect of your business.
Here’s the main lesson I’ve learned: Put these systems in to place before you get busy, otherwise you will have to work reactively instead of proactively. For example, when I started the Web design business I only had a client or two, so shooting from the hip was really easy to do. I would just work on things as they came up.
As I started to get busier, though, this became impossible to do. Very quickly did I become overwhelmed, and this is because I wasn’t following a set system.
After making the switch to being more organized, I was able to handle my business exploding and the unprecedented volume of clients that came with it.
Do you have systems in your business: step by step instructions for every single thing that you do, including how you manage a client relationship from first point of contact all the way through fulfillment of whatever you promised them and beyond?
If not…you are at an extreme disadvantage.
The Simple Systems that Built an Empire
To come to an example that Dan Kennedy uses frequently, McDonalds would not have become the most successful restaurant in history had it not been for easy-to-follow, step-by-step systems that anyone, including, “pimply-faced, hormones-raging, attention-deficit-disordered teenagers” could understand.
You should have written out systems for everything you do in your business down to even the simplest things like “how to edit the Website,” for one reason: If you wanted to quit today would you be able to hand the keys to your business over to someone else and have them run it just as efficiently as you?
Now you might be thinking, “I’m never going to leave my business!” But don’t be so sure…What happens if you get in an accident? Or you get sick? Or you just want to take a break? Having systems in your business allows you this freedom.
If you do not have systems in place in your business, you do not own a business — you own a job.
Because you have to be there every day, every week, every month, in order for it to run.
Not only does having systems allow you the freedom to step away when you so desire, but it allows you to do better work. Because of the systems I put in place, I’m now able to more clearly explain what I do to my clients and how I work best. I’m able to better handle the workload because I know where every one of my clients is in the processes I have set up. My business is stronger because of the systems I have put in place.
By the way, when people are looking to buy a company, systems are one of the biggest things they look for. Regardless of whether you think you will ever sell or not, you wouldn’t be a prudent owner if you didn’t at least have an “end-game,” right?
How to Create a System for Your Own Business
Like I said, you should have a written-out system for every single thing you do in your business, no matter how simple. Let’s start with one of the most important, though: Your client system.
This can range from very simple to very complicated, depending on your business, but the idea of putting a client system together is to have a road-map for the work that you do for every single client.
For example, here is my system for Web Design:
- Strategy: I discuss with them over a series of phone calls the strategy for their Website and give helpful marketing suggestions.
- Content-Creation: I tell them what content I will need from them for the site, or they hire one of my copywriters to do it for them. This is when I collect all text, photos, and video that will be on the site.
- Design: First I draw layouts out on paper, and then I find a WordPress theme that most closely represents what we are looking for. I install WordPress on their server, install the theme, and import all content.
- Revisions: They send me a single list with all revisions that they want to make on the site. After I have made these revisions I send the site over one more time and they can send me another list if there’s anything left to change.
- Payment, launch, teaching: After I have received payment we launch the site. I also teach them personally in a 60 minute class how to make basic edits.
This is my system that every client moving forward understands and abides by.
For my magician business, my system looked like this:
- Initial contact: I determined if I was right for their event based on criteria that they filled out in an online survey.
- Schedule Meeting: We would schedule an in-person meeting I would send them a Shock and Awe package with my books, testimonials, etc.
- Have Meeting: I present their options to them. If I’m a good fit, they book me.
- Send thank-you card. Put into “upsell” autoresponder process that automatically offers additional services.
- Follow up a week before the event to confirm.
- Perform at the event.
- Schedule a “debriefing” meeting where they will take a look at the Reactions Photos that we captured and fill out a survey.
- Edit photos and upload them to the site.
- Make a note to follow up with them around the same time next year for repeat business.
So, you see, you can get really detailed with this.
Give it a shot. Having systems is so important if you want more freedom in your business and to do things your way. Sit down and write out the exact process that all of your clients currently go through, and then ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I like to work best? Is this process conducive to me doing business on my terms?
- Is this efficient? Are there any unnecessary steps that I am taking that I could get rid of, delegate, or automate?
- How can I more clearly explain these systems to new clients so that they abide by my “rules”?
Thanks for reading!