How to Work the System

Previous post:

Next post:

by Dana on August 29, 2013

Do you know how to work the system? I believe that one of your top goals in your business should be to have it running like a well-oiled machine. Without efficient business systems, I can guarantee that you’re wasting time and energy, and opening yourself up to costly mistakes.

So what’s a system?

A system is an organized, efficient set of steps that you take to complete repeatable tasks or projects. So whenever there’s an activity that you know you’ll need to perform more than once in your business, it’s always wise to record the steps you’ve taken–so you never have to waste time or mental energy thinking through what needs to be done again (and you never run the risk of forgetting a step!). The way you record that process doesn’t need to be fancy (in fact, I just use bulleted Word documents to capture my processes), but it does need to detailed and thorough. Ideally, you want to make the process so easy to understand that a 5th grader could follow the directions (that’s my personal litmus test). And, as each system gets documented, it can go into your official “Operations Manual.”

A great resource to get you pumped up to begin the process of systematizing your business is the book, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less” by Sam Carpenter (I recommend this one to all of my clients!). Here’s an excerpt that may help you understand the importance of the concept…”Every result in our lives is preceded by a linear step-by-step process. In order to create the results we want, we must see and then focus on improving these individual processes.”

So the gist is that whenever something is not working in your business (and in your life, for that matter), it’s simply the result of a system that’s not optimized. For example, if you’re having trouble getting clients, you just need to go in and “work that system,” or discover the right step-by-step formula that works for you. Then, you can just “rinse and repeat.” Or if you’re overwhelmed by all the emails coming into your Inbox on a daily basis, you simply redesign your process for how you’re managing your email. When you look at problems this way, I believe it makes them less overwhelming. It reminds you that everything is “figure-out-able” and you just have to step back and take a few calm moments to think it through. It’s not rocket science–but it does require time and attention. But the benefit is that you’ll get better, more consistent results. 

What are some other benefits to creating systems in your business?

  • Systems will save you time. As I mentioned above, once you document the steps for your process, you can simply pull out the system and follow those steps each time you have to execute that process–making it a bit of a “no brainer” for you. You can conserve your creative energy for those activities where it’ll be most useful–creating content, marketing materials, working with your clients, etc. All the day-to-day management activities in your business should pretty much be running on “automatic pilot.”
  • Your business will not be dependent upon you. If you’re serious about building a “real business,” the key is that it’s able to run without you, if necessary. So if you get sick or go on vacation, the management of your business doesn’t stop completely. As you grow your business and begin to outsource and delegate activities, having clearly documented processes will make it easier to train contractors or employees and minimize the risk that they’ll make mistakes.
  • Creating systems moves you from reactive mode to proactive mode. Most business owners complain that they spend a lot of time “putting out fires,” but when you have systems in place, there are fewer emergencies and you’re able to channel that time and energy toward more strategic activities to move your business forward.

Here are some examples of systems in your business that you may want to take a look at over the coming months (yes, months!). I’m not going to lie…it takes a while to get through them all, but it is SO WORTH IT in the end. My advice is to take them one at a time. Put together a monthly calendar and attack 1-2 each month. After you’re done, you’ll also want to set aside time regularly to review each system, analyze what’s working and not, and further optimize them.

Business Systems to Optimize

  • Strategic business planning
  • Client onboarding
  • Invoicing/payment collection
  • Expense management
  • Email management
  • Calendar/schedule management
  • Promotion/marketing calendar management
  • Contact database management
  • Networking follow-up
  • Program and product launches
  • Soliciting speaking engagements
  • Conducting speaking engagements
  • Hosting Telseminars or Telesummits
  • Hosting live events
  • Collecting testimonials
  • Generating referrals
  • Prospect nurturing
  • Strategic partner nurturing
  • Enrollment conversations
  • Ezine production
  • Data backup
  • Metrics collection and analysis
  • Client tracking
  • Market research

BONUS TIP: It’s important to note that you can create systems both for your business and personal life. There are countless activities we do over and over at home as well. So I’m a fan of creating processes for them. For example, I have checklists for grocery shopping, morning/evening routines for the kids, holiday planning, packing for trips, etc. It makes life so much easier!!!


I’d love to hear…What do you think about the concept of creating systems in your business? Do you already do this and have some tips of your own to share? Please go ahead and post in the comments below…