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A complete guide to getting started with systems

So you want to get started with systems – YASSSSS!

I’m truly stoked to hear that and cannot wait to help you along the way! Just a few years ago, I was in your place, I would bulldoze my way through tasks, complete them just in time. My day was a complex jumble of happenings. All my energy was spent just trying to not fall off. My body and mind were stretched to the breaking point. I was hustling away in my job, feeling like I needed to be everywhere at once.

I’m happy to report, that the time invested has paid off 10x and thanks to the systems that I now have in place, I’m able to focus completely on scaling my business and serving my clients. 

At the end of each day, I’m looking back on an accomplished to do list, knowing that I spent my hours immersed in creative projects rather than killing fires that are the direct result of unmanaged systems.

My favorite thing to do these days is to help others build systems in their business, so they can experience the freedom and joy of running a business with ease. 

If you’re an online business owner, ready to quit the 24/7 hustle by cleaning up + streamlining your business processes so that you can work less and make more, then you’re in exactly the right place!

What I’m sharing with you today is both what I’ve found to work in my own business and the businesses of my clients too.

 

Okay, enough chit chat. Let’s talk #allthethings systems!

 

The 5 vital steps to getting started with systems

These are the vital 5 steps, basically the bits you REALLY need to make sure you hit.

I’m going to go MUCH more in depth in each step below, but first I want to give you a high level overview.

  • Develop a system mindset
  • Debunk common system myths
  • Create a business mind map
  • Capture your systems
  • Optimize & maintain your systems

 

It’s important that you start with Step No #1, because when you start seeing the systems in your business, creating them will come almost naturally to you!

 

In order to help you follow through on these steps, and keep all your notes in one place, I created a free workbook that will ensure you have everything ready before you jump into creating your first system!System Guide Download

Step 1: Develop A System Mindset

Do you see your business as a tapestry of processes or a complex mass of discordant happenings?

The truth is, it’s hard to create systems in your business if you haven’t developed a system mindset yet.

The good news is that once you start to think in processes, there’s no way back. You’ll start to see systems everywhere, not only in your business but also in life. And once you’re aware of the systems, creating them will come naturally.⠀

The concept of the system mindset is originally taken from Sam Carpenter’s book “Work The System” and it’s a biggie, you really won’t get far without it. It’s so crucial that you develop a system mindset, meaning you see your business (and life) from an elevated perspective and understand that fixing each individual system results in making your primary system work well.

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Here are a few tips that may help you develop a system mindset:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

👉🏼 RECOGNIZE REPETITIVE TASKS: There are many tasks on your To Do list that you do on a recurring basis and you already know the exact sequence of steps to take in order to complete the task. Because you created your own system! Start becoming aware of those repetitive tasks. Have you already created your own process for completing it? What are the sequential steps you are taking? Maybe you’ve already documented parts of the process in your Project Management tool?

👉🏼  ZOOM OUT: When you complete a certain task, zoom out and try to identify the bigger system the task belongs to. Creating graphics for Instagram is not only a task on your To Do list, it’s part of your content management system. Being aware of how tasks are connected with each other and how they may overlap will help you to develop a more efficient way of completing them as you, for example, will be able to batch tasks.

👉🏼 IDENTIFY PROBLEMS & EMERGENCIES: Ever ran into a problem, fixed it and moved on only to run into the same problem again after a few months? Start creating awareness for the problems and emergencies in your business and think how they could have prevented. For example, maybe you forgot to backup your website and you’ve lost all of your content due to a virus, could have a system to regularly backup your website prevented the problem?

 

Trust me when I say that thinking in systems is easier than you anticipate. Flexing your systems muscle regularly will pay off in the very near future and you realize pretty quickly that once you developed a system mindset, you’ll start to see systems everywhere.

 

Step 2: Debunk common system myths

 

“I need to create systems from scratch!”⠀

This is a sentence I hear business owners say all the time. Just thinking about creating systems in their business gives them a feeling of stress and overwhelm.

But the truth is: You don’t have to create systems from scratch. Actually you already have every single system in your business! For every task that you do day by day, you follow a certain process, a system YOU CREATED.

Sending out an invoice: You have your own process ✔️

Creating a newsletter for your list: You know how to do that ✔️

On-boarding a new client: You’ve done this multiple times ✔️

 

The question is not about how you can create systems in your business but how can you CAPTURE the systems that you already have (see Step 4).

 

“I’m not good at systems!”

I noticed a common misconception among business owners that they “have to be good at systems” to create them. That they are not “analytical” enough to get their processes systemized.

I just mentioned the fact that you already have every single system in your business. This is exactly the reason why you don’t have to be “good at systems”. You already have “your systems”. As in any other area of business (and life) we often get caught up in the shiny object syndrome when it comes to creating systems. We try to find the best system to create our own systems! We follow industry experts, talk to other business owners and download dozens of templates we never use.

Here’s the only thing you need to know:

YOUR SYSTEMS HAVE TO WORK FOR YOU.

So when you start documenting a process to systemize it, do it in a way that works for you. You prefer a video walkthrough over a written out step-by-step manual? Great! Download loom and start recording how you send out an invoice. Label the file, add a checklist to it and save it an a hub where YOU will find it again/be able to access it any time you need it.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong.

 

“I don’t have time for systems!”

When it comes to creating systems for their business, many online business owners often tell me that they simply don’t have time for it.⠀⠀⠀⠀

There are 349721 things on your To Do List and you feel you just never get on top of everything.

I hear you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I see you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I am you.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

But here’s the thing, when it comes to anything in business (or life) that you *don’t have time for*: YOU MAKE TIME FOR IT.

That goes for systems as well: you just make it a priority.

But here’s the good news: For every system you create today, you’ll make 10x back the time invested in the very near future. Systems are here to help you scale, to do less, while making more $$$.

We’ll deep dive in the following steps how you can create your systems with a minimal investment of time.⠀⠀

 

Now that we’ve debunked all the system myths, there shouldn’t be anything holding you back from creating systems and turn your business into a well-oiled machine!

 

Step 3: Create a business mind map

“You can’t be in a system, while at the same time understanding the system you’re in.”

Before you can start systemizing your business and get it operating like a well oiled machine, you need to create a business mind map to fully understand what’s going on in your business.

Your business mind map is a list of all the processes and tasks that occur in your business on a regular basis. We are normally so buried in the day-to-day scramble that with a business mind map you will be able to take a high-level view on your business.

Think of your business mind map as some sort of organizational chart. 

An example could be: 

📁 ADMIN

  • Planning Processes
  • Backup Procedures
  • Calendar Management

 

📁 FINANCE

  • Bookkeeping
  • Invoicing
  • Tax returns

 

📁 HR

  • Hiring Process
  • Team member on-boarding process
  • Off-boarding Process
  • Team Review

 

📁 MARKETING

  • Branding
  • Blogging
  • Social Media Management
  • Website

 

📁 PRODUCTS & SERVICES

  • Group Programs
  • 1:1 Coaching
  • Digital Products

 

📁 SALES

  • Lead Capturing Process
  • Discovery Call Process
  • Lead Follow up

 

Tip: I usually recommend that you document your tasks for one week or month to get a better picture of what’s going on in your business as there are many nano tasks we complete each day by default without being aware of it.

 

Step 4: Capture your systems

Now that you know what is going on in your business, you can start working through the list and systemize all your processes so your business runs like clockwork.

Notice that the step is to “Capture your systems” vs “Create your systems”?

A common misconception I see, is that many entrepreneurs think that they have to create systems from scratch. The truth is, that you already have every single system in your business, and you just made a list of them! Your only job now is to capture and document them.

Frist you need to decide who is going to document your system. Usually, the person who is accountable for a certain task takes charge of documenting it. If your Virtual Assistant is creating and scheduling blog posts for you, they will be the one who is responsible for the blogging system. So, if you’re running a business with a big team, you might not have to document a lot but you (or your Online Business Manager) will be in charge of overseeing the process of systemizing your business. 

 

Once you have decided which system will be created first and who will be in charge, you have to consider the best format to document it.

This could be any, or a combination of:

  • Written step-by-step format
  • Screenshots
  • Video 

 

For each one of the format, I recommend to standardize the format so that when you onboard a new team member they are used to the layout.

 

Next time you (or your team member) completes the task, simply document what you are doing, for example: 

  • Write out each step as you do it
  • Record the process while you perform the task with a screen-recording software such as loom
  • Take screenshots of the key elements of the process

 

Be sure to include the following elements for each system:

  • The tools/software used
  • The process (step-by-step instructions)
  • The people (who implement the steps)

 

Tip: Don’t document every nitty-gritty detail of each process. This is overkill. The biggest issue related to processes is that people are skipping steps. Make sure you include the basic steps of each process in sequential order. If necessary, add additional steps/procedures as bullets under each step. 

Tip: There is nothing wrong with using video as a format to document your processes. However, make sure to include a written step-by-step checklist to your video as especially experienced staff won’t need detailed instructions to follow but just a checklist to make sure they have completed each step of the process. If you just use video, you’ll risk that your team members (or you) won’t follow the system at all, as they don’t have the time to watch a full video instruction. 

Moreover, written texts are by far the easiest system to update, as you can swap in and out sections without having to re-do the whole procedure.

Tip: Don’t document how certain tools or software is used or set up. Each software has its own SOP directory that has instructional videos or written manuals on how to use each element of the tool (usually under the “Help” or “Support” menu item).

 

Step 5: Optimize & maintain your systems

Once you started documenting and systemizing your processes, you will start to uncover some hidden bones. Maybe your processes are too complex, some steps are in place that don’t have to be, or there is a better way to organize the sequential order of the different steps in the process.

 

DELETE ⠀⠀

Take this as an opportunity to improve and optimize your current systems. Streamline your processes by eliminating redundant steps or condensing steps.

 

AUTOMATE

Simplify your processes by identifying areas where technology can be applied to connect different core processes or to enhance parts of the process or the whole process.

 

DELEGATE

Now that you have created systems for all of your processes, you are able to delegate them to team members as they will be able to follow your exact system, making sure to deliver a consistent outcome. Maybe parts of the process still require you doing the job but there will always be options to outsource. Since you have broken down your processes into the different steps, take a closer look at the individual components and identify areas that could be delegated to team members or outsourced to contractors.

 

MAINTAIN

It’s important to keep your systems up-to-date. Whether it be a new link to a document you are referring to, a changing order of steps or the use of a new tool, if a step of a task in your system changes, make sure to update it.

Tip: Create a system for updating your processes!

 

You’re all done! Congratulations! *Pops champagne* 

 

Get help

If you’re ready to get your business fully systemized by an expert, you’re in the right place! I’m happy to support you in creating the systems you need in order to delegate work to your team. Let’s chat over a free call. 

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