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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Business Chat - All systems are go!

Someone recently asked me what I meant by the term "business system." I thought you might like to know a definition that works for me.
A system is a procedure, process, method or course of action designed to achieve a specific result. A good system will help you be consistent in your business practices. Consistency makes customers trust you. Happy customers are repeat customers. 
The bottom line is that a good business system means less wasted time and more time to build your business and increase sales. 
Systems and processes are the essential building blocks of your company. They will allow you to manage the important details of your business. They stop things from falling through the cracks. 
You might be thinking, “are you kidding? It’s just me, working in my dining room. Selling at 3 craft shows a year! I don’t need systems, I need sales!”
ANY business needs systems! In fact, the more part time you are the more important creating your systems and procedures are! If you are selling a lot online and sending 4 packages a day you know what to do every time. What if you are only sending out 2 packages a month? Do you remember what labels you have to print out? How you packaged your work last time? What you need is a list of steps detailed out. 
Imagine that you have hired an assistant and want them to take over shipping your online orders. In order for them to do this you have to tell them how to ship. This is a procedure that should be exactly the same every single time.  
Think of those 3 craft shows that you do. The first one was hard but you managed it. Now 6 months later you are preparing for the second one and you can’t remember what you did. Imagine if you had created a system the first time around. For the second show you could simply follow the instructions you had written for yourself. 
As a side note, even if you do something a LOT, like a LOT of shows (yours truly) you should still create a system. Then maybe you wouldn’t get to the show and realize that you forgot to bring any packaging. Not that that would happen to me. 
Good systems take waste and inefficiency out of your business and help you give customers what they want every single time. Instead of always trying to remember how to do something, you can refer to the notes you have made. 
A system can be as simple as a checklist. Here’s an example of my Post Show Work system. 
  1. do the bookkeeping
    1. expenses
    2. income
    3. bank deposit
  2. move tax money into tax account
  3. go over my show notes
  4. make a note of work i am running low on
  5. make a note of supplies i am running low on
  6. enter names onto mailing list
  7. custom orders
    1. send them a note telling them when to expect it
    2. schedule in making the work
  8. email people i networked with to say hi! 
  9. send a thank you to the show organizers
  10. facebook a “thanks everyone” post and photo from the event

This is a very simple system but it guarantees that I won’t forget something important. After each show I print this out and check off each step. If someone else were doing this for me they would know what they have to do. Basically I am treating myself as an employee and letting my employee know what I expect of them. 
A really well run business will have systems for every step of their operation. Put together, this is called a SOP - Standard Operating Procedures manual. 
It may seem like a lot of unnecessary work right now, but trust me, this will make your life so much less complicated. When that (for now) rare online order comes in, you won’t have to scramble to remember how to ship. You can happily follow your How to Ship system, ship it quickly and then you’ll have free time to work on getting more online sales. 
Now that you know what a business system is, what system do you want to create first?

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