Small Business Systems

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I was running a training course the other week with a group of self-employed, small business owners who all had either none, or only one or two employees.

We got onto the subject of systems, as we always do, because in Slow Selling we strongly suggest that systems are the key to making things happen consistently, and to help you ensure that you’re continually improving.

And, of course, that consistency and continual improvement is the key to customer reputation, loyalty and referrals.

Anyway, in this course I started talking about systems and the question arose.

‘I work on my own. I’m in charge of everything. I know what I’m doing, and I just do it each day. Why on earth do I need systems?’

So, the reason I decided to write this blog was to answer that question.

If I have a small business, or I work on my own, why do I need systems? I’m so close to it anyway, surely having systems in place is unnecessary?

I think there are three answers to that.

The first answer is that you already have a system if things are working for you, because the fact that things are working means that you have a system that’s making them work.

For example:

  • If you have a good personal time management system, you will be a reliable and productive person who other people trust.
  • If you have a good project planning system, you will have a high success rate of projects and a low failure rate.

So, people don’t necessarily recognise the systems they already have.

The second area to consider the need for systems is in the area of customer reputation, and loyalty – (which is of course the absolute key to any small business, because you can’t outdo your competition in marketing, advertising and promotions)

The only way you can ensure that you have better customer reputation, loyalty and referrals than your competition is through systems.

Blindingly obvious common sense you may think?

So often, when I’m talking with a business owner, I ask them:

‘What is your customer reputation like? What is your customer loyalty like?’

The answer they almost always give is:

‘Well, we hope it’s pretty good.’

So, I then reply: ‘Well, what do you mean by ‘hope?’

The trouble is: Hope is not a strategy, nor is it a system.

If it’s important to your business, then you need to know how it’s going, whether it’s getting better or worse and what you need to do in order to improve it.

This is the second area that any business, no matter how small, needs systems.

The key to consistency and continual improvement in customer reputation, loyalty and referrals, is systems to make this work. No matter whether you’re a one man band or an international conglomerate: the customer experience can ONLY be consistent and continually improving through effective systems.

This is an area where almost all businesses, large and small, fail dismally, because it’s not been an area that’s covered in traditional business schools. It’s certainly not an area that accountants spend any time on because there’s usually no black and white figures very often to show progress.

But it is, of course, the key area for start-ups, small businesses and growing businesses to focus on, in order to thrive and survive in today’s hyper-competitive customer empowered world.

So, in order to make things happen here consistently, and to ensure that you are continually improving, you need systems.

And, yes, I know systems sound really boring, but Slow Selling is a methodology and set of systems that helps you thrive and absolutely nail it in this area.

The third area is that if you are a growing business and you don’t have systems, you’re entirely reliant on luck.

This is an area where so many small businesses fail.

They start up as a one-man or one-woman band, and they do pretty well because the one man or woman is good at what they do.

They’re well organised, they’re enthusiastic, they’re customer focused, etc, etc, and then they start to get too busy, and they have to start employing somebody to help them in some way.

It doesn’t matter whether that person is customer facing or not; they need somebody to help them cope with the increased business, and to grow it further.

That’s when things start to go wrong.

You may be great at looking after your customers, you may be great at delivering your service, you may be great at doing things brilliantly as a sole trader, but being great at what you do, and running a business doing what you do are totally different skills.

I repeat: and this is crucial: being great at what you do, and running a business doing what you do are totally different skills.

The key to running a business, delivering consistency and continual improvement in the area of customer experience, and therefore customer reputation, loyalty and referrals, is of course, as we mentioned, systems.

So you do need systems in place before you start to employ people so that you can then train them on the systems and hold them accountable to the lead measures of the systems so that they actually deliver what you want them to deliver.

And you can continue to grow through consistency and continual improvement in customer experience, without cock-ups, as your business and team grows!

You don’t have to rely on luck in finding the right person, or luck in the person doing the right thing at the time.

So those are the 3 reasons why systems are absolutely essential, no matter how small your business is.

Now, moving on, most people – when I start talking about a system – start yawning and falling asleep. But systems don’t have to be boring!

They don’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to have an MBA in order to know what systems to put in place.

At Slow Selling the first two systems we teach are very, very simple, and from those all other systems flow.

The first system to put in place is a weekly improvement system, a ‘go the extra inch’ system. You can see our other blogs and other material about that.

The second system to put in place is a customer feedback system that actually works. You can see our other material on this or contact us to download a copy of our e-book we’ve written on this exact subject: ‘How to Build a Feedback System that Actually Works.’

So, in a nutshell, systems are vitally important.

Without systems, you’re just going to be running around, chasing your tail in ever less productive circles.

So, start committing to systems by the inch and putting them in place little by little.

The best place to go to find out what systems to put in place and how to put them in place is the Slow Selling methodology and the Slow Selling material.

So keep in touch with us and keep asking us for our free e-books and start learning about how to put in place the Slow Selling systems and methodology.

Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders of independent businesses.

It is a methodology to help you slow down, set up systems for long term success, and use these to grow sales and profits through reputation, attraction, recommendation and referral.

Without wasting time, money and stress on unnecessary marketing and promotions.

To find out more, please click here

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