Imagine that you suddenly become seriously ill tomorrow and your doctor tells you that you need to take an extended leave from your business for six weeks and not do anything related to your business. This including making telephone calls and writing emails. Would your business survive? Would it continue to prosper? For many business owners, the answer is "no".
If you had systems in place to run every aspect of your business, you could:
- Take lots of time off without it affecting your business profitability and growth.
- More easily sell your business for more money when you are ready to retire. Businesses that are less dependent on the original owner are worth more.
I know because I had to leave my business for six weeks. Guess what? My income did not drop significantly. Mind you, I planned far in advance for this. Had it been unplanned, I would not have been as fortunate. I am still working on my goal to have a business that I made the same money that I do when I am there. That is what having systems to run your business can do for you.
A system is a set of procedures or steps resulting in predictable outcomes. They can be followed by anyone with the same, consistent results. They create freedom for you, the business owner, and give your clients the same quality and service. You get the benefit of being freed up from day-to-day operations as you focus on growing your business and refining systems.
You no longer have a job, but pay others to do jobs for you. You may even discover that other people can do jobs better than you and that in not hiring others you might not be saving money rather than losing money.
The most important system you need for your business is a system that persistently and consistently feeds your business with income. The more time you spend in non-marketing activities, the less money you will earn. Marketing is the most profitable business activity for you, the business owner. In order to spend more time marketing, you will need systems to free yourself up from activities that take your time and focus off of marketing. As you grow your business, you will update and improve your systems.
For example, do you have marketing systems in place that:
- Provides you with a constant never ending stream of referrals from your existing clients? Imagine the impact if only 10 percent of your clients referred you to others.
- Delivers new clients to you on a consistent basis with predictable results?
- Assures that you never lose another client by providing a world-class experience every time they conduct business with you?
Following are simple examples of some questions you might answer so that your clients or customers do not rule how you operate, and YOU set the guidelines on how you serve them:
- Will there be any client discounts?
- Will there be group discounts?
- Will there be refunds? If so, under what conditions will they be offered?
- Will there be referral monies/affiliate monies paid?
- When/how much referral money will be paid?
- Will you accept credit cards? Which ones?
- Is there a minimum amount to use a credit card?
- Will you accept checks?
- Where will checks be mailed?
- Will you ask clients to sign an agreement?
- Who will send it out?
- Who will it be returned to?
- When will it be sent out?
- Who will track its receipt?
- Who will follow-up if it has not been received?
Following is an example of an operating system you would set up based upon how you answered the previous questions.
- Clients will pay by check by the first day of each month.
- Clients will be invoiced by email on the 15th of each month.
- The virtual assistant will send client invoices by email.
- Rachel will send assistant a "Dear Client Letter" to include with email invoice by the 7th of each month.
- By the 10th of each month, assistant will send updated client invoicing list to Rachel for any changes or corrections.
- Rachel will send back to assistant by the 12th of each month.
- Clients will make checks payable to corporation and mail to San Ramon post office box.
- Rachel will email daily checks received listing to assistant.
- If a client payment has not been received by the 5th day of the month, clients will be called by assistant asked to overnight a check or provide a credit card. A $20 late fee will be added to their invoice.
- Clients can pay through Visa by providing this information by fax to the assistant.
- Assistant bills clients paying by credit card on the 1st of each month.
- Assistant sends Rachel a listing of clients paid by credit card amount, service rendered, and client name daily.
- If a client has not paid for the upcoming month and has a session scheduled, client is notified by assistant that the session is canceled and will be rescheduled, as payment is due prior to session.
- Assistant calls client to obtain payment if they have not paid before monthly session and reschedules coaching session if necessary.
If you have learned nothing but the fact that you need to build and refine specific systems to operate your business, you have received valuable information. Why? Because you realize that you must make time to work on your business instead of just in your business.