SCALING with long-term benefits

Over a year ago, I did a deep dive on SYSTEMS in business…

This is considered one of the pillars of scaling.

And lots of folks talk about how systems will set you free.

Not enough people talk about the fact that:

  • Good systems will also set your people free, whereas
  • Bad systems will lock up your people & throw away the key

So, what’s the difference between them?

I think these are the essentials to know when creating systems:

1 – the system should ALWAYS make it easier for people.

And it depends on the outcome of the role:

– it should make your financials more accurate and helpful,

– it should make your salespeople spend more time talking with qualified prospects,

– it should make your marketing more on track,

– it should make your support staff be more responsive & helpful,

– it should make HR be able to onboard people more quickly & effectively.

If a system gets in the way of getting the job done, there’s a word for that… BUREAUCRACY. Notice the words BURY and CRAZY in there? Don’t be BURIED IN CRAZINESS.

2 – the system should ALWAYS have an outcome that it’s optimizing for.

Go back to #1 for the list. But unless you know the outcome that you’re after, you’ll tailor it for the wrong thing. Legal & Compliance have different needs than Sales. Different companies have different needs at different stages of growth.

Some of my deepest disagreements have been with the people who argue for “systems for the sake of systems” without knowing the outcome that the system needs to achieve.

3 – the system should ALWAYS have a purpose.

It might not be monetary (but in business, it often will). It might be designed to reduce stress, free up time, open up focus, avoid distractions, avoid loss, and more. But… if there’s no benefit… then why are we doing it?

You also get to decide the timeframe. You get to decide whether you want short-term, mid-term, or long-term benefits. For example, you might have something in place in your business that ensures that people will buy from you again in 2 years — even if it means cutting your immediate profit margins. That’s a long-term play. Please don’t get confused about ROI just because you don’t see it tomorrow.

You might also have something in place that keeps you from tanking your business, or from losing your shirt on a business deal gone wrong. Huge ROI, even though many entrepreneurs go through 1-2 failure cycles before looking at problem prevention (that’s a big opportunity, by the way — especially if your competitors aren’t considering it).

Unhealthy contingencies = paranoia

Healthy contingencies = wisdom

4 – the system should ALWAYS be adaptable.

If the people using the system don’t have a voice in the end game, you end up with TYRANNY. Systems rule, people become subjects. Keep it up, and your healthy team members will move on. The ones who remain will be TIRED. (Yep, just reframed how you see TYRANNY.)

Write it down: systems make great servants, but terrible masters.

5 – the system should support YOU.

In almost every case, the bottlenecks of the business go from top-down. Business owners are often the bottleneck in their own business. It’s not selfish to build the business around YOU, because if you don’t, you’ll have a negative impact that ripples all the way down from you. My employees have a FAR better life (and my clients get FAR better results) because I prioritize what is important for ME.

As you grow and scale, it becomes impossible to create the perfect fit for everyone. However, if you only create a 60-80% fit (find the right people for the roles, tailor the roles as needed), I think you’ll be surprised how many people see this as going “above and beyond.” The fewer responsibilities someone has, the more tolerance they naturally have for these types of things.

6 – most businesses need a PURGE cycle…

Get rid of all the systems that aren’t serving you and your business. Simplify. Get rid of experiments that have clearly failed. Double down on the things that are working.


Some practical examples:

– Several months ago, I created an awesome plan to generate content. Lots of great steps, lots of great process…but it completely killed my creative energy. I’m rebuilding it from the ground up… And yes, there’s a system to my content creation…but it’s tailored to ME. (Meaning, a few of you could swipe and adapt, but likely none of you could exactly replicate it.)

– One of my clients felt overwhelmed by weekly meetings. He changed his cadence. “Team members, you are allowed to keep recurring meetings on your calendar, but don’t add them to me until 1-3 days before.” For him, it was important to  feel the openness of his schedule.

– One of my clients needed more visibility for their sales team in their followup process. One simple tweak to the automation, and they could easily tell how they needed to modify their script based on where they were at. 

I probably have lots more examples buried in my mind, if I’d only take the time to dig it them up…

What would you have to add?

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