A new year brings with it new goals of what you want to achieve in your business. You’ll know by now that I am very passionate about the importance of understanding where you are on your business journey, so that you can then use this to reverse-engineer goals and focus on the correct priorities. But sometimes, this seems harder than it needs to be – and here’s why.
If you’re looking at your business as one big mass, it is going to be almost impossible to differentiate what you should be focusing on, and when.
Every business should be structured in three parts – The ‘who/what’; the ‘how’; and the ‘systems’.
When I started out on my business journey, this is something that took me ages to realise - that I was mushing these three ‘parts’ into one big mass, and utterly confusing myself in the process. Once I realised what I was doing and changed my thinking, it was like I had deciphered a code, and everything was so much clearer.
Here is what I mean.
This is where you define who your target market is, and identify your ideal client. What problem you are solving for them, and what your product or service looks like.
This is where you look at how you will find your clients, deliver to them, retain them and make it a ‘wow’ experience for them.
This is where processes come into the equation, defining each stage of the client experience and breaking it down into steps that can be delivered with ease and efficiency.
Finally, this is where you consider how you can operationalise and create systems so that your business not only runs efficiently, but critically, can run without you.
This article is focused on part 3 – the systems.
Why – because you can have a great idea, a clearly defined target market – even a fantastic client experience, but without systems in place – a way to operationalise your business, then you will be a slave to your business rather than creating the freedom – both financial and time – that you set out to create.
So the question I pose to you is: “Do you have an idea or a business?”
To take an initial idea and turn it into something that makes money, is no small feat – so if you have achieved that – no matter how small a profit so far – then you deserve a massive congratulations!
To go anywhere, an idea needs focus and implementation – but what happens then? Most entrepreneurs that I work with have passion, determination and drive. They have successfully taken an initial idea and turned it into a profitable business – the issue when they come to me, is that they are exhausted and totally trapped in the success they have created. They are time poor and can’t figure out how to take it to the next level.
Usually this situation has come about because the founder has been focused solely on how to grow – their brand, their client base and their revenue – without giving due thought to how they will put systems in place to create a business that isn’t dependent on them.
If this sounds like you, then you can definitely turn it around. Here are some tips on how to take the first steps to creating a business that can run without you:
1. Create a working system that runs without you.
• The first step here is to examine where you spend your time, where you are the ‘bottle neck’ or the key dependency, and how many times you do the same thing over and over again.
• Once you have gone through this process, map out where you could create systems and processes that become self -sufficient and remove dependencies from you – this could be via automation or delegation to team members, contractors or other experts.
• Never underestimate the quality of the team around you. Set your team up with the best people you can find in areas of expertise that you need. If you invest in the right people, they will find the right solutions and create the right systems for you – you don’t (shouldn’t) do it all yourself.
2. Run your business like you intend to sell it.
• Even if you think you have no intention of selling your business, this mindset is GOLD. The minute you start looking at your business through the eyes of an investor or purchaser, you will gain a totally different perspective. What would you look for in a business that you were going to buy? What would put you off? What are the risks you would identify?
• One of the key things that will deter any investor or purchaser is ‘key person risk’ – this is where the owner/founder is so entrenched and involved in the day to day running (including client relationships) that anyone else coming in will find it nearly impossible to replace them – particularly in the minds of clients. Look at your business through these eyes, and identify where you are the key person risk – then do something about it.
• A great metaphor for this is someone intending to sell their house. They have lived with an untended garden, a million unfinished jobs for years, yet throw themselves into fixing the place up for sale. I often wonder why they didn’t do it earlier, and enjoy the end result themselves rather than put all that time and effort in just as they are moving out.
3. Run your business with the end in mind.
• Whilst this is related to point 2, it is also slightly different. This is about having absolute clarity on what you want from your business – what does success look like? I am yet to meet a business owner that says they want to create a business that is a rod for their own back, that they can’t step away from, and is a 24/7 incursion on their time – and yet I would hazard a guess that 8 out of 10 business owners I work with have created just that. Why? Because they haven’t defined their north star vision, or reverse engineered a plan to achieve that vision. In the absence of that clarity, they are at the mercy of conflicting priorities, short term tactics and mindless activity – as opposed to deliberate activity with an end goal in mind.
• Think about where you want to be – what your version of success looks like. Now critically examine your business and assess whether it will achieve your vision for success. If you discover that it won’t – then take this as a great wake up call to restructure what you are doing.
4. Examine where you spend your time.
• Think about where you spend your time. Contrary to what many business owners believe, the value they add is not in the doing – and this is also where you become the road block and the key person dependency. Examine where you spend your time and effort, and whether you should be changing your focus.
As the founder and owner, in my opinion you should be spending roughly 70% of your time on relationship building, strategic thinking and ideas for value creation – not DOING. The other 30% should be divided between marketing and running your business by the numbers.
• Set up your business as if you are going to sell it. Don’t be part of the wheel.
• 70% of your time should be on relationships and marketing – not doing.
• If you want something done right, hire the right team to do it for you.
• Your aim should be for your business to run without you for 3 months. When you can do this, then use that freedom to grow your next idea, and maybe, your next business.
• Rather than trying to do it all yourself, find the ‘architect’ of someone who has already done it e.g. someone who has already developed an A-grade team. Discover what their system is - how did they do it? Get them to do it for you.
Need help? I’ve got your back!
Analysing where you are the key dependency;
Running your business like you are about to sell it; and
Not being just another 'cog in the wheel' -
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