Want your small business to run like a well-oiled machine? 

Creating and introducing business systems that really work is the key to a transformed business, one that is streamlined, productive, and profitable. By concentrating on the fundamentals of ‘how you do it’, you will set up a chain of activities that ensures that your business will run smoothly even when you’re on vacation. The goal is to work smarter, not harder!

What are Business Systems?

A system is a set of processes, tools and courses of action taken to achieve a specific goal. All of the components and interconnected steps work together so it can function effortlessly, even without you. If you continue working IN it and not ON it, then your business will never grow, prosper, and reach its full potential. Creating effective business systems is the only way to realize consistent and measurable results.

Imagine these systems and processes as fundamental building blocks of your company. All aspects of your business could be improved and managed by identifying which areas to systemise. A system can cover everything from simple tasks (ex: automating a welcome email for new clients) to more complicated processes (ex. digital marketing sales funnels). You may have a set way of doing things in some areas already, but give those an audit too. You want to make sure that each system is as efficient and effective as it can be for your business goals. 

How to Identify Areas To Systemize

The very first thing you need to do  before you do anything to your business is to get clear about where you are now. What’s the default setting as it stands? You need to establish exactly what your business is like before you start changing anything. New strategies take time to implement, test, evaluate, and get used to.

Develop a chart with all the functional areas of your company included. Start at the first point of contact with a potential client. Document the flow of the job as it passes through the functional area from start to finish until it passes on to the next functional area. As you look at all the areas, track what actually happens every day/week/month and not just what tasks that need to be looked after. There’s a difference because when it comes to writing the systems, you will know what is working and what isn’t in every part of your business. You will be ready to find better and more efficient ways of conducting your business. Loom can help your computer work by screen recording your actions. 

To help you add structure to your systems, Identify and break down each activity to include:

  1. Process – the step-by-step sequence of actions used
  2. People – who’s doing/in charge each step of the process
  3. Tools – what equipment, device, software and/or app do you need
  4. Strategies – whatever techniques you use

Categorize all of your activities in terms of business functions: 


What do you do on the backend of your business that is repetitive and ongoing?

Example Activities:

  • business planning and goal-setting
  • Meetings and emails
  • Equipment maintenance 
  • Order supplies and materials
  • Human resources
  • Information Technology
  • Website maintenance
  • Client Onboarding
  • Initiation 
    • Send a Welcome packet or email
    • Schedule a Discovery call
      • Identify client pains and solutions
      • Define big picture goals and timeline
    • Kick-off Zoom Meeting introductions
      • Learn their internal process
      • Explain your ways of working
      • Revisit deliverables
      • Reinforce the value you bring
      • Communications expectations and collaboration tools
      • Outline action items, who’s responsible, deadlines
      • any training and educational resources
  • Project planning
    • Scope and workflow
    • Milestones and Gantt chart
    • Schedule communications 
  • Execution and monitoring
    • team and resources
    • client reviews and approvals
    • status reports and meetings
    • development updates
    • Performance indicators

Marketing and Sales

What are you doing to attract and convert customers? 

Example Activities: 

Marketing Plan
  • Analyze marketplace
    • Competitive overview
    • Research client needs
    • Identify opportunities
    • Create marketing plan and budget
    • Develop strategy
  • Digital channels
    • Pay Per Click Advertising 
      • Google Ads and Facebook/Instagram
    • Social media platforms 
    • Website 
      • Intuitive interface with easy navigation
      • Content marketing
        • blog articles with keywords
        • eBooks
        • Video
      • On-page Search Engine Optimization
      • Monitor funnel with Google Analytics
    • Automated email marketing
      • drip campaigns 
      • lead nurturing campaign 
      •  analyze and test performance
  • Affiliate Partnerships
  • Asking for and featuring reviews
  • Word of mouth marketing

See our article Digital Marketing Boosts Business Growth to learn more about digital marketing strategies

Generating Sales 
  • Qualify leads
  • Contact prospects 
  • Up sell to existing clients
  • Track sales opportunities


What do you do with your money?  

Example Activities:

  • Price “menu” (to break down your core service packages and their costs)
  • Payment terms
  • Tax planning
  • Bookkeeping with an accounting software 
    • Tracking income and expenses 
    • Capturing and organizing receipts
    • Sending estimates
    • Creating invoices
    • Tracking sales and sales tax
    • Managing bills and payments
    • Tracking time and mileage
    • Paying employees and contractors

See our articles New Business Financial Planning and Business Planning for Entrepreneurs to learn more about financial planning strategies. 

Identify Ways to Improve Systems

What do you want your systems to do for you?

Look at your list of business activities that you have broken down to include the step-by-step process, the people involved, the tools used and the strategies included. 

  1. Are all steps of the process necessary and is the right person in charge of the tasks? Identify what you can eliminate from the system because the task, person, the tools, or the strategy is unnecessary, too time-consuming or just not relevant anymore. 
  2. Are all steps of the process being done in the right order? Identify what you can automate using software, apps and other tools.
  3. Are the equipment and tools you’re using the best ones for the job based on price, performance, and maintenance? Identify if there are others that could serve you better.
  4. Are all steps of the process generating the results you want? Identify what you can delegate because the tasks are not the best use of your time, energy and expertise.
  5. Do you need to involve more people? Figure out who can take on those responsibilities and how.
  6. Given what’s left, what can you batch together so you can accomplish them faster? 

Document your new and improved systems (step-by-step processes, people, equipment/tools and strategies) using a set of online tools (recording processes on computer, cloud accounting, payment collection, project management, customer relationship management, email marketing and others) that work well together and complement each of your business areas. Software that helps with automation is typically worth the cost so that you can focus less on mundane tasks and have more time for what you really want to do. These business systems will have your business running as streamlined, efficiently, and effectively as possible. Trust that documenting your processes and creating efficient systems really are fundamental building blocks of your business in terms of scalability and productivity.