Five essential systems every business needs

GearsIs your business rocking? Maybe it’s moving so fast it’s making your head spin. Or maybe things have quieted down for you giving you time and space to rethink how you do things.

In either case, I’ll bet this thought has crossed your mind more than once: I need to change the way my business works!

Like any successful business owner you always keep a close eye on your business. You can feel when things aren’t running the way they should. Your gut tells you when you’re wasting time recreating the wheel or doing things inefficiently. You can smell a lost document a mile away, you just can’t see it!

If you want your business to thrive, it’s important to build a solid foundation of systems to support it. I call this your Business Ecosystem. It’s what happens behind the scenes – things that are integral to how your business is organized and how it functions.

Without a healthy and balanced Business Ecosystem, you may start to see your business as “hard.” You’ll feel overstretched, overcommitted and overwhelmed.

Back to basics

While there are many systems to create, this too will make your head spin. The key is to keep it simple and start with the basics.

Here are 5 essential systems you can implement in your business right now to create a solid foundation for growth.

1. Building client relationships
Your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Their information is precious. The best place to store details about the people associated with your business is in the cloud so you (and your team) can access it from wherever you are using any device. A solid client relationship management system starts with a centralized and accessible contact database … also known as a CRM.  Your CRM is more than just the names and addresses of the key people with whom you associate, it also includes important dates (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries), notes about your conversations and the ability to group contacts into categories (e.g. clients, prospects, vendors).

2. Organizing marketing messages

The goal of marketing is to attract and retain clients. Your marketing system breaks down all your strategies and accompanying tactics into a step-by-step process that can be repeated easily and effortlessly. It’s likely you’ll have more than one marketing system, so begin with the most effective strategy you currently use, then branch out to the other areas (e.g. social media, blogging, newsletter).

3. Streamlining workflow

Keeping things moving in your business helps you maintain control of your workload.  As you look around your workspace or on your computer desktop, you’ll quickly realize the prime culprit for congesting workflow is information. Whether it comes in paper or digital formats, without a workflow system in place you’ll soon feel like your drowning in it.  Map out the journey these random bits and pieces take from entry to completion. Doing so will keep things flowing freely and in the right direction. (Get started by using the CORD Productivity Model from the book How to be a Productivity Ninja.)

4. Managing projects

Your project management system keeps you on top of the tasks, milestones and deadlines for all your projects. While this can be mapped out on a spreadsheet or whiteboard, I believe the best way is to use a computer application, especially if you have a team working on the project. By using a computer-based project management tool you’ll save time communicating project details, adding tasks and updating timelines.

5. Sending invoices

Having secure and efficient money systems makes your business easier to manage. Start by creating a system for the most important financial task you need to accomplish: getting paid. Creating an invoicing process not only enables you to see how much money is coming in to your business, it helps identify and address outstanding invoices. Cha ching!

Your next step:

Do a quick check to see if you have these five essential systems in place for your business. If not, begin creating your system for the one that is causing you the most frustration. Be sure to leave your comments below. Let me know what systems are working and not working in your business.

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