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You know you have a winner: your business is expanding, you have your competitors copying you, you’ve got ideas that will take it even further and your investors are smiling.

For sure there’s plenty of challenges too, hiccups and unexpected blockages are normal in any business. But you’ve noticed that these seem to be happening more and more frequently. You’re being diverted into crisis management and to put out fires.

Issues are being caused by amongst other things; problems with making deadlines; the quality of your product/service; late delivery from suppliers or a staff member who just isn’t up to the job. You didn’t have much time to yourself before now but you believed that as you emerged from ‘start up’, things would get easier and you’d have more control – however it’s not turning out that way.

Ask yourself these hard questions about the possible reasons for the situation you are in:

1. Is your business running as efficiently as you would like it to?
2. Was there a job description given to that new staff member and were the objectives & expectations for the role clearly articulated to them?
3. Are there documents that explain the critical steps and standards to be followed in the processes in your business?
4. Are you confident that your processes can be repeated to the same standard by everyone in your team?
5. Is there an induction & training program in place for your staff?
6. Is there a way of monitoring and ensuring quality in your business?
7. Are your policies (e.g performance management, OH&S, etiquette etc) documented and available to your staff?
8. Is it clear to your staff who is responsible for what and what they can expect from each other?
9. Is the operational side of your business well organised i.e templates, filing systems and document management processes in place?
10. Is there a structured approach to recruiting staff?

If the answer to the majority of the questions above is “no”, you may be one of the many business owners that would be well advised to spend some time and money in implementing systems in your business. We aren’t talking about IT systems here (though they definitely play a part), we’re talking about the day to day running of your business as it relates to your people and the way the work flows into and out of your business. It’s not uncommon for this to be an area that falls behind as a business grows.

After all, there’s a limited number of hours in each day and the business owner is often an entrepreneur with great skills and passion for marketing & selling. Implementing systems isn’t necessarily a natural strength.

If the warning signs are there – your business is running you, the business relies on you to function, you are fighting fires, you wouldn’t be able to attract more investment for expansion or sell your business without you in it – you may be in danger of capsizing. Creating systems may not be your passion or your skillset – but don’t let that prevent you from taking action. There are specialists available who can do this for you.

The money spent will be returned to you through higher productivity, lower staff turnover, better qualified staff, lower stress levels, greater personal empowerment, more time and most importantly through the increased value of your business.

– Ann Quarmby is a specialist in business operations management and through her business, Boss-Plus Professionals, offers businesses access to skills and templates for systemising their businesses.

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