From the outside, small business ownership (or, entrepreneurship), can look big and scary. A lot of people dream of owning a small business, but stand on the sidelines, and just assume that entrepreneurship couldn’t possibly be for them. In fact, sometimes, we’ll go to great lengths to avoid the call of entrepreneurship. We’ll blame confusion, or lack of training, or maybe we’ll kind of halfway start something, call it a business, but treat it like a hobby.
For those that are really committed to making their business work for them, there are hundreds of resources: e-courses and teachers and bloggers and podcasts and YouTube videos and webinars. The world is full of business advice. But it’s easy, even at that point, for overwhelm to start to set in.
The truth is, there are only really seven basic things you need to know about starting, growing, and owning a small business. Business doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the gurus out there will make it seem like it does—but there are only really seven basic systems you need to make your small business work. The main question is, do you have these seven systems in place?
Most small businesses fail not because the entrepreneur or owner doesn’t have the passion, drive or know-how to make it work but because the owner doesn’t understand these basic systems and doesn’t have standard operating procedure to keep these systems in place.
A few years ago I had a light bulb moment about creating systems that work. The amazing thing about this light bulb moment is that it led me to a paradigm shift that you can apply to your business and start seeing changes immediately. Once you understand this paradigm shift, and start applying it to your business, you’ll never look at systems the same way again. I’ll tell you about my light bulb moment, and then I’m going to tell you about the seven basic business systems you need to put into place to make sure you’re building a sustainable and profitable business.
That paradigm shift is this: don’t put the system in place that starts something, put the system in place that runs something. (Click here to tweet that!)
What do I mean by that?
Well, think about it this way. You own a business, so you need a website, right? No matter what type of business you’re trying to start or build, you’ve got to have a website. So what do you do? Hire a website designer. You get a beautiful website and blog up, and then, because you’ve got a business to run, the website just kind of sits there, doing nothing. The problem was, you put a system in place that started something, but you didn’t put a system in place to run something.
This paradigm shift is true for each of the seven essential, basic, and absolutely necessary systems you have to have in your business in order for it to run efficiently.
Curious about what they are? Let’s dive in.
- The first basic business system you need is a CUSTOMER system. Sound weird? Well, you could call it a couple of different things. You could call it a plan for customer acquisition and/or retention. You could call it a lead generation system. Whatever you call it, you need a system that not only gets your customers in the door, but you need a system for what they experience once they’re on the inside. A big mistake that a lot of start-up small businesses make is they spend money on advertising, or spend a lot of time building their social media presence, and they don’t take time to build a system that takes care of their customers once they’re on the inside.
- The second basic business system you need in place is a system for running a WEBSITE. I’m not going to try to convince you to build a website: I think everyone knows that’s essential. But you do need a system in place for keeping your website fresh and up-to-date. This means you need a system for learning and implementing SEO, or making sure your website is optimized for search engines to find it.
- The third basic business system you need is an EMAIL system. Now, I’m not talking about setting up a new gmail account, or even setting up a mail chimp account. I’m talking about a system that keeps you organized and on track for nurturing your email subscribers—a segment of followers and audience all too quickly forgotten by small business owners.
- The fourth basic business system you need is a system for ongoing CONTENT. Back to that website just sitting there. You got your website up, but how did you get people coming back to it? What content system do you have in place that’s going to keep your online presence fresh and pretty? Now, I know it’s tempting to hear the word “content” and think “blog”, but in today’s day and age, there are lots of other options for creating content. You could create videos or podcasts, or even get more creative. But you’ve got to implement a system for creating consistent, original content. (What’s going on in my life – better than nothing).
- The fifth basic business system you need is a PRODUCT system. Here’s a big mistake companies make: starting a business with one product, and forgetting to build around supporting products. Boy, do I know all about this. This was the biggest mistake I made in my first business. I had one product that did really well but I didn’t realize this couldn’t support the rest of my business.
- The sixth basic business system you need is a system for SOCIAL MEDIA. And a simple key metric for social media might be the number of followers you increased by. And while that’s super easy to track, I would encourage you to think about engagement on social media: how many comments, and questions, and ineractions did you have on social media? Consider tracking engagement instead of follower count.
- And the last and seventh basic business system you need is a system for ADMINISTRATIVE tasks. Now, what does that mean? Well, specifically, it means anything legal, financial, or both. From a non-technical standpoint, it means anything that requires a form. For my businesses, this means anything that relates to HR or hiring, and anything related to taxes or lawyers or bookkeeper or accountants.
Depending where you are in business, the way that you respond to the way you create these systems can vary dramatically, but here’s the bottom line: any successful business will have operations for each of these systems established and in place.
For more information on this topic, and to hear more about how to use key metrics to help you make progress in each of these systems, hop on over and check out the first of three videos I’m offering as part of my first free video series at Biz Designers Plan! I’ll see you over there!