Systems can be one of the most intimidating and complicated parts of owning a business. Often, we don’t know where to start, how to get them to do what we need, and aren’t even sure if we’re using them correctly. There are so many options, and our businesses are so unique – it can become quite a mess!
As an operations consultant, I’ve seen trends in the systems mistakes entrepreneurs make, and I assure you, you’re not alone. Thankfully these missteps are easy to correct and will make a huge difference in your business.
Not researching what works for you.
When people start working for themselves, they start with systems and processes they know or what comes highly recommended from friends and peers. After investing time and money into setting up the tools, the realization that the tool doesn’t quite do what’s needed forces them to struggle through and make it work. To avoid this, take the recommendations but do the research about what works best for both your current business model and your unique work style. Pay special attention to features, interface, and available integrations.
Want to gain clarity around your natural working style? The Kolbe assessment can help!
Force-fitting your client experience into a tool.
Speaking of doing your research, it’s important to find a tool that supports the client experience you want to deliver. Too often, we invest in a tool and then operate within its limitations – or compensate for its shortcomings by piecing together a slew of tools (see the next mistake.) Take a pause to map out your ideal client journey, making note of what system functions or automations would make it smoother for the client and easier for you to manage. Then look for a tool that supports as many of those needs as possible. No tool will be perfect, but you can get really close.
Use this Client Experience Mapping workbook to identify the flow and what tools you need to support the journey you’d like to deliver for your clients.
Using too many tools.
Having too many softwares and apps can be both costly and operationally challenging. Tools you are told are needed – but never actually use. Tools you sign up for to patch gaps in another tool. New amazing tools that create redundancies in your systems. And tools that you forgot that you signed up for. It can get squirrely quite quickly. To combat this, ensure you’re keeping your operations lean and keep track of what accounts you’ve created, how much they cost, and what functions you use them for.
Swinging the automation pendulum too hard.
Most people either overuse or underuse automation. If you’re the type that wants to delegate as much as possible, you may jump into a system and try to automate all the things! On the flip side, if you’re the type that prefers to keep a hand of control, automation may be the last thing you’re interested in. Both stances are dangerous. When used intentionally, automation can be a powerful tool within your business. But if you don’t use it at all or you use it for everything, you risk slowing down your business or losing control of your operations. Start with simple, meaningful automations – like a calendar scheduler and email templates.
Setting it and forgetting it.
This may be the biggest mistake of all. Once you have your systems set up, you need to be checking in with them regularly to ensure they are still serving your needs. Treat your systems like an employee – do performance reviews and course-correct as needed. What pain points do you need to solve for? Has the workflow changed? Is there a tool you need to add? Is there a tool you no longer need? Do a quick check-in about once a quarter.
Make it easy by downloading my free Essential Systems Maintenance Checklist to stay on top of your operations.
If you’re suddenly filled with dread that you’ve made some missteps, remember these are very common mistakes that are easy to correct. I’m also here to help you get started through my Strategic Operations Intensive, where we can review your systems and processes to ensure they match your style and goals. Learn more here.