Imagine that everything you do in your business today is streamlined and recorded. That every task is simple, logical and repeatable. Imagine that you recruit to your vision and values; your training systems enable your high-performing team. Your 'customer journey' is simplicity itself, not a hoop in sight. That the customer is at the heart of everything you do.
Now imagine for a moment that you’re going to open a replica of your business tomorrow. How simple will it be to achieve that essential of scaling – consistency? How seamless will it be that your customers don’t suffer at all, aren’t even aware that they have been dealt with through a different branch or office?
Now, take an honest look at your own business today and ask the same question, 'How simple would it be?'
If you have ambitions to scale you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems.
If you want to progress beyond startup mode you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems.
If you want to grow from solopreneur to entrepreneur you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems.
Why the repetition? Because until you accept that this is the key to scaling success, you may as well not start!
(By systems I mean a uniform and consistent way of doing everything in your business – the one right way – that you will achieve by having 'How-To' guides that make it clear what that one right way is.)
The most successful businesses, big and small, know their customers intimately, and have them at the centre of every decision, every service change, every new product. Companies like Virgin, Disney, Apple and more recently Metro Bank, were all founded on the belief that the customer’s experience is everything, and they do what they need to do to make that experience not only the best it can be, but special.
Every small business is well-intentioned but it’s too easy to get so tied up in the day to day of business survival, that you focus only on your side of the equation:
We really need to turn this right on its head and ask what our customers want from us:
'Work on your business, not in it' - Gerber
Building on lesson three you need to take yourself from micro-managing, fire-fighting and getting bogged down in the daily chores of your business. You need instead to be focussing on what will help you scale - strategising, learning about your customers, developing systems and your people. I can see the irony that the very thing that will free up your time – systems – is the very thing you need time to build. But until you call timeout and invest time as a business owner you’ll be forever in your Groundhog Day of being busy, working so hard and standing still.
If you are a solopreneur or a very small team that is stretched already, then this is no mean feat and we don’t ask this of you lightly.
Initially, you will need to be strict with yourself. Tighten up your routine. Highlight where you procrastinate.
Then ask yourself:
And most importantly – free up another slot for strategising. This is where the magic will happen. You have made this time for yourself, so you will not waste it.
If you have ambitions to scale you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems. If you want to progress beyond startup mode you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems. If you want to grow from solopreneur to entrepreneur you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems.
Once you establish what the customer wants and when and how and where you need to plot their journey through your business.
This is usually a lightbulb moment when we work with clients who are so drowning in the day to day that it may be the first time they’ve looked at their business with helicopter vision. Plotting the journey as it is, rather than how they wish it was, can be mind-blowing as they discover how the customer meanders illogically through the business, losing momentum and becoming disillusioned and confused as they go. Worse still when the customer has to regularly chase you, instead of you having a system that updates them with your progress. Blocks, deviations, gaps, over-complication, draft rules or policies that have sprung up over time like weeds all become apparent.
Step inside your customers’ shoes, into their thought process, and design your offer around them. And from this seeming chaos comes a new customer-friendly route. A breath of fresh air for you, your team AND your customers. Make sure that you review the customer’s position at least annually, if you’re to keep up with their changing needs.
The customer journey is the first step in systemising your business. It ensures that you then start to establish systems for the simple, streamlined, customer-centric business your clients (and team) will love.
Great systems give you consistent service excellence and put the customer at the heart of everything you do. Systems are essential if you are ever to build your high-performing team. By high-performing I mean a team that can consistently reach or exceed your high standards whilst working pretty much independently.
Recognising existing routines is a good place to start for any business looking to scale because from those routines you will develop your one right way and the 'How To' guide to achieve it. This, in turn, enables your independent and empowered team.
Systems become simply 'the way we do things round here' and that way should always be simple, logical (even to a 3rd party) and repeatable because you want it done in the same way, consistently, every time and by everyone.
And as your reputation and business grow, so your systems are in place to scale, franchise or sell.
Great systems will take care of the present and are the key to your successful future. So make that commitment to invest today.
Marianne Page has 27 years of senior management experience with McDonald’s under her belt, and a further ten working with successful small business owners, helping them to scale, grow and occasionally sell their business. To find out more about how she can help your small business go to her website or follow her @MariannePageLtd
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