My clients tell me of a love/hate relationship with systems. The love part comes because systems make things easier. The results are predictable, you know what you need to do and know where all the things you need to do it are. The hate part comes because there is a belief (which I disagree with) that systems lock you in and don't leave room for creativity.
So let me ask you a question...do you really want to be creative with the paperwork, agreements or whatever you use when you bring in a new client in or would you rather just celebrate? Yeah, I thought so.
I don't think that everything you do needs to be regulated 100% by systems but I bet you'd be surprised that by adding a system to ensure that creative time happened that you actually got more creative.
I recommend that you create systems for the things you do all the time and the things that you wish you did all the time, but never seems to get to. I believe the following SEVEN systems are vital for any business:
1. Client intake procedure: What paperwork do you need new clients to complete? Think about other things that you do with every new client. The easier it is to bring in new clients the more clients you will bring in.
2. Payment processing: Do you have to run to the bank each time someone hands you a check? If you handle cash do you have to worry about making change? Are credit card payments easily managed and does all of it get tracked? The easier it is to bring in revenue the more revenue you will bring in.
3. Bill payment system: Money in, money out. You must pay for the services that you are using just like your clients pay for your service. Like your payment processing system all payments and expenses need to be tracked so that you know where you stand financially and tax time doesn't kill you.
4. Work "on your business" time: What can you do to systematize regular creative time for you to create new programs, market your business and expand your reach? The only way to grow your business is by being proactive and reaching out to others.
5. Admin time: There are a lot of things you can delegate to others (yup, that's a system!). However, there are still some things that you must handle. What type of system can you create to make sure these things don't back up.
6. Time management system: This means a calendar and to-do list that you keep up to date and refer to regularly.
7. Self care: Unless you take care of you, you won't be able to take care of your business. What can you do to make sure that taking care of yourself happens consistently? How can you ensure you get enough sleep, eat well and exercise? Confession time: the only reason I go to the gym regularly is because it shows up as a recurring event on my calendar and I don't double book that time.
Look around your business. What systems are you missing? What system do you have but isn't effective? What can you do to make your systems work better for you today?
Carrie Greene is a speaker, trainer, coach and author of Chaos to Cash. She helps entrepreneurs cut through the confusion and chaos surrounding them so they make decisions, stop spinning and procrastinating and make more money. Free resources at http://www.CarrieThru.com and http://www.chaostocashbook.com/excerpt