Many business owners I talk to, knowing what I do, ask me how do they go about systemising their business.  Often they are stressed out from covering for staff who aren’t doing the job properly, have forgotten to order materials needed for the day’s work, have been let down by subbies not turning up on time, or a combination of all these….and more!  (Sound familiar?) They hear and read about how systems are essential in business to help free up their time, but they are not sure where to start.

I have put together a few thoughts about beginning to systemise a business and also have included a link to an article from the E-Myth Corporation that also may help clarify your mind, if you are in a similar position to those business owners I mentioned above.

Firstly, just what is a system?  I like to think of it as:

A repeated course of actions – a way of doing things – that

bring about a result

 A system is not just a list of written steps to be followed in some procedure manual however.  Some are, but perhaps think of them as the levers that allow staff to achieve their potential, not just replace them with the lowest cost alternative.  They allow a company to grow and people to grow with it.  For example, if you have a big boulder to move, you can either use lots of people to start pushing (not all in the same direction probably) or you can get a smaller rock and a long lever and prise it out of the way, using just one or two people.  The second method is a better SYSTEM because it can be easily repeated the next time a big boulder is encountered and is easier to control.

What are the benefits of having systems?

  • Efficiency
  • Empowerment of employees to improve their area of responsibility
  • Get new staff up to speed quicker
  • Reduce errors
  • Lowers stress (usually yours)
  • Better serve customers
  • Build the knowledge of the company and retain
  • Adds big value to a business when selling it

As you might expect lack of, or poorly designed systems will tend to give you the opposite of this list.

One of the best ways for people to grow in an organization is to be involved with the innovation and improvement of systems they are a part of.  To have the freedom to find the most effective way to complete their jobs BUT fit in with other parts of the wider business without making someone else’s job harder.  This innovation process therefore needs to be systemised itself.  People up the chain and down the chain need time to examine how a change to the way things are done impact on their area and confirm the suggested change is either neutral or positive on their areas.

A couple of practical suggestions around designing new systems or improving existing ones is to schedule an annual or 6-monthly brainstorming session, SPECIFICALLY to focus on finding better ways of doing things.  Also use the opportunity to identify bottlenecks or obsolete practices.

An exercise you can set yourself or your team right now is to come up with examples of systems not being followed.  People are usually quick to make suggestions here, especially if they are personally being affected negatively.  Have team members list what consequences are happening due to systems not being followed AND ways it could be changed to get better results.  Pick one or two of the best suggestions (that will have the biggest impact) and DO IT.  People love to see their ideas being implemented.

For more information on building powerful systems visit the E-Myth article at

or contact me to help you progress (or start) your systemization plan.  It’s what I do.

Andy Burrows

The Trades Coach