New year, new systems

Posted by Derek Mason

4th January 2024

Picture credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

When you work for yourself, there’s an infinite number of things you could be doing in your business, but there’s only a limited number of hours available for those things. A lot of the time, success comes down to how you spend your time, and whether you prioritise what matters most – which in most businesses involves attracting the right clients. Although, as we’ve seen over the last few years, the economy and global events are certainly part of the picture too.

I regularly write about what works for us, here at Super Structures Associates, because an important part of running a business is supporting the wider business community. So when you know what works, it makes sense to share it with fellow business owners, freelancers and consultants.

But there’s a caveat to that, which is this: you must find what works for you. We’re all different. My engineer’s mindset means my business is underpinned with systems we’ve developed over time, that run like clockwork. We have systems for lead generation, for following up with potential clients, for onboarding and offboarding clients, and for the project work in between. As well as for many other things too numerous to mention here.

These systems save us time, stop things falling through the cracks, and enable us to run a professional business that our clients are happy to recommend. Which is why I suggest every business develops clear, repeatable systems and processes. Then, if you document those systems, it means than anyone else you bring on board to work in your business will be able to get up to speed quickly and easily.

January is the perfect time of year to review what you’re doing, to look at where you might want to make improvements in the way you’re running things, and to set goals for the year ahead.

It can help to divide things up and work on one area at a time. There are seven key areas:

  • Strategic Management,
  • Marketing,
  • Sales,
  • Operations,
  • Admin,
  • Cash Flow,
  • People Management (even if it’s just you).

Start looking at your systems for the areas of the business that need most urgent attention.

If you don’t have enough clients to sustain the business, then start with Sales and Marketing, and if you have plenty of projects on the go, start with Operations, which includes day-to-day project management. If you have no clear picture of where you’re going, start with Strategic Management. And if you have plenty of work but still have Cash Flow problems, start there.

As you develop your systems, good questions to ask are:

  1.  Where is your current system costing you money?
  2.  Where is your current system costing you time?
  3.  Where is your current system causing stress or unnecessary difficulties?
  4.  Where is your current system making it difficult to be clear on how the business is performing?
  5.  Where is your current system losing you customers or affecting the service you deliver?

Every business runs more smoothly with good systems. Being an engineer, I’m sure I have an unfair advantage in this area, so if you need any advice on this, you know where to find me. And, as always, if you need assistance with the structural elements of an upcoming project, please do get in touch.

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