The Secret Sauce for a Successful Business

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on May 27, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Project Management


I’m not a big believer in the “magic bullet” theory of business. I’ve never believed that a particular business model or the perfect product will turn a business from a mediocre business into a super-success. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that if you work hard and provide value and do good in the world, you’ll enjoy some business success. But IF ever there was a secret to success, I think a good set of systems is a contender to be nominated as one.

Systems are the processes that we develop for our business. It’s a preplanned structure; an outline; a pre-determined way of doing something. Sometimes the idea of systems is one of automation but I don’t think that’s always accurate (and I’ll show you why in a moment).

Systems make your day easier and they save time. When those two things happen, you can do more in less time. And when you can do more in less time, you can make and sell more and your business will grow.

So, what kind of systems am I talking about? I would recommend a system for everything you can make a system for:

  • Create a checklist to make sure that every email you send out contains specific pieces of information that your clients usually ask for.
  • Create an easy way to write a blog so you take less time thinking up a topic and writing about it.
  • Create a workflow system so that every incoming project ends up in one central location and is scheduled appropriately.
  • Implement a CRM system so that every prospect and customer gets treated right and doesn’t fall through the cracks.
  • Create a bookkeeping workflow so that every income or expense item gets passed to your assistant on the day it is received and logged within one day in the right spot.
  • Create a flowchart for common “mini-disasters” you face in the day, such as an irate client or a customer service issue.
  • Create a social media checklist to make sure that you are engaging appropriately each day without wasting time by starting at a Twitter stream without a clear idea of what you need to do.
  • Create a checklist of the 10 things you need to do each day to market your business.

See what I’m doing? I’m listing the most common tasks that you (and every other business owner) go through and I’m recommending a type of system to be developed. Systems don’t have to be technologically automated. They just need to have an established process in place. It could be as simple as a checklist or a flow chart. (By the way, one of my clients has exactly this: a 12 point checklist posted on his wall right in front of his computer. As long as he goes through each point each and every day, he earns six figures a year. Having the list, he says, has helped to free up his time).

Systems ensure that you don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Systems ensure that you do what needs to be done and you don’t miss something. Systems simplify your work by freeing you from having to remember what to do each day. Systems make work predictable so you can spend your energy on the value-adding efforts for your clients.

Want the secret sauce recipe for your business? It starts with a system of the things you do every day.

Let’s go make some sauce!

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