Do We Need Systems In Our Small Businesses?

Ray Stewart Business, General, Online Business Leave a Comment



I seem to spend loads of time every day explaining to people why systems in their business are so important.  However, it seems as if the message only sinks in about 30% of the time.  Everyone appreciates the value of good, solid systems in even the most tiny business – but when it comes to actually putting systems in place all kinds of “problems” surface which delay setting systems up – sometimes for ever.

What is a System Then?

A system is a series of steps that someone has to follow in order to achieve a predetermined outcome.

This sounds really awkward but if I was to tell you that every time you do anything in your business – you are operating an informal system.  All I am asking is that you accept the need to actually think through every task you do and set it down in writing so that others coming into the business can be shown how you want the task doing – exactly.  A simple system is how you greet your customers to your business premises.  Do you get out of your chair and extend your arm with a huge smile and shake hands?  Or do you find a certain form of words work brilliantly when a customer approaches your stand?  If so – write down what you do and say – and you have a system.  Any new member of staff can then be shown your customer greeting system and they start greeting your customers exactly how you want them greeted – exactly how you have found works best.

I am not a lover of exact scripts and formats but you can see, in general terms, how easy it is to formulate a system to ensure consistency time and time and time again.

Why Are Systems Essential For A Small Business?

A small business benefits from systems because they are essentially a brain dump of the business owner – everything they do time and again, without thinking, to ensure the business runs smoothly and is successful.  So, if the business owner goes on holiday, unexpectedly has an accident, falls ill, or worse, dies, then the business has a chance of carrying on if the owner has put systems into place.  Someone can step in who doesn’t necessarily know the business.  They can follow the systems laid down for each aspect of the business and make a good attempt at keeping the business running until the owner returns/recovers.  If the owner dies, then their family has a much better chance of selling the business on if it is clear what steps are needed in each situation to (hopefully) ensure a successful outcome each time a customer approaches.

What Areas Need Systems

Every area of your business will benefit from systems.  Initially, focus on:-

  • Leadership
  • People
  • Administration
  • Customers
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Who Writes These Systems?

There is no special art to writing a formal system.  Anyone can write down a series of steps and then pad each step out with an explanation and maybe a video or two.  They don’t need to be fancy but begin to imagine how much easier it will be to take on an assistant, point them to where the systems are kept, and each time you ask them to do a task, they go to the system, follow the steps and videos, and achieve a good outcome as expected.  You don’t have to keep showing people what to do, just refer them to each system and they very quickly pick up your way of doing things.

There are many brilliant computer programs now that make systems simple to use.  Anyone who has a contact form on their website has a simple system that the website uses over and over to make sure each and every form completed is correctly processed each time someone hits send.  I use dozens of systems here to help my business run smoothly but there is always work to do.  We use a thing which we have co-funded with other accountants to help our particular style of business work and it runs in the cloud called, imaginatively, “system builder”.  Other industries have similar things (if not there is a business opportunity on a plate!).  There are many whole of business software programs that come bursting with inbuilt systems waiting for you to tweak and amend to your circumstances.

What Next?

You are probably using some systems already within your business but please take a little time to look at everything you do on a day to day basis and see if you can’t document more and more of it so that someone (cheaper) else could take on more of your work gradually leaving you free to focus on growing your business without being bogged down by mundane, repetitive tasks.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss this important issue more.  I will also be happy to send you a couple of sample systems that we use to help you get started.



Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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