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    You are here: Build Your Business : Articles : Entrepreneurship

    Creating Systems for Small Business
    By Suzi Dafnis
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    If you answer your own email, take your own phone calls, issue your own refunds, handle your own customer service - you could be killing the growth of your business!

    A friend once said to me: "If you need to do something more than once, then create a system." What she meant was that any activity in a business performed repeatedly could be systemized so that anyone can do it.

    Focus on Building the Business
    If you plan to grow your business, you'll get to a point where verbally outlining procedures, repeatedly, keeps you tied up doing just that - and not focusing on building the business.

    Let me share an example with you of a system that is easy to implement. Let's look at the job of answering the phones at your business. How are they answered? Is it a predictable and consistent greeting, no matter who answers? Do your clients know what to expect when they call you?

    After 10 years in business we've had more than 10 receptionists. Each time a new person started, I would find myself explaining, again, how to answer the phone. Finally it dawned on me what a waste of my time this was! The solution: We wrote a procedure.

    The process or system outlined:
    - what to say when answering the phone
    - how to take messages
    - how to screen calls

    Now, when someone is on vacation or out sick, anyone can step in and answer the phones - professionally and with the same predictable results - just by following the system. It's a simple step,but an important one in clearing the way to focus on the growth aspects of your business.

    The Challenge of Change
    One of the best small business books I have ever read is The E Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. In this book, Gerber examines the plight of small business owners and provides solutions for changing things.

    Here is one of Gerber's examples: Whether you go into a McDonald's in Beijing, China or Buffalo, New York you can expect the same thing. The restaurants are clean, affordable, and the food tastes the same wherever you go. And, usually, they are staffed by teenagers, who are following strict systems.

    McDonald's has systematized its entire business. To ensure that all franchises are run the same the franchisees receive plans, systems, and procedures to follow. When they follow the systems they get expect the same results.

    Simple Steps
    How do you start to systemize your business? There are two simple steps:

    Create a system:
    Imagine that your business could exist without you having to be a part of its day-to-day operations. Whether you ever grow to that level or not is nor important - what IS important is that you set up systems that free you from the day-to-day drudgery of doing everything yourself, or having others be ineffective because they keep re-inventing the same old wheels.

    The important thing to note is that Gerber says that you will know if the system you create works "if it works without you to work it."

    Implement the system:
    Implementing new systems requires creating manuals and systems for people to learn. It means paying attention to what works and what doesn't. Trial-and-error plays a part in helping to perfect your system.

    Over time, and as your business grows, you'll need new systems.

    Today, you can start by identifying one system, and starting to work on that. Ask yourself these questions: Do you need a system forů

    - Writing letters
    - Opening and closing the office
    - Purchasing
    - Hiring staff

    Remember, any system that you create, no matter how small, will help free YOU up to take care of the important job of growing your business.

    Reproduced with permission from

    In 1994, Suzi and her partner started their seminar business Pow Wow Events International in Sydney Australia, with a vision to bring transformational education to business people. Today, her multi-million dollar businesses help thousands of people in numerous countries take control of their lives. Suzi was a finalist in the 2001 Telstra Businesswomen's Awards and the Ernst & Young, 2003 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She co-founded Rich Dad's Seminars in Phoenix in 1994 to support the Rich Dad message in the USA.

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