The Systems Thinker Blog

Business Systems: 10 Vital Things You Need to Know

Posted byRon Carroll

Recently, I visited a customer in Houston Texas who owns a chain of ten auto repair stores. By every measure, Shane has a very well-run and prosperous company. He is no longer involved in the daily routines because he has excellent and trusted managers, and first-class business operations. However, Shane wants his company to become even better; he wants to improve on his success.

Auto Repair Company with Great Business Ssystems

After visiting some of Shane’s busy stores, I was reminded of a statement made by a marketing professional a few years ago. He said:

"One of our favorite clients is an auto repair shop that regularly puts three to four competitors out of business every year. His business operations are run so flawlessly, his marketing is so compelling, and his customer satisfaction is so high, customers are irresistibly drawn in and drawn back time after time. They are helpless. In their minds (and in reality), they would be STUPID to go anywhere else to get their cars fixed" (Rick Harshaw, Monopolize Your Marketplace).

Shane was eager to refine his company's daily operations, but new to my Box Theory™ Way. As I began to explain, he had a sudden epiphany and shouted, “YOU’RE TELLING ME THAT I CAN CREATE A SCHEMATIC OF MY BUSINESS, AND LIKE MY AUTO TECHNICIANS, I CAN VIEW THE DETAILS OF MY PROCEDURES AND PROCESSES TO PINPOINT AND SOLVE PROBLEMS.” “Uh, yes,” I responded. “I suppose you could look at it that way.” He actually had a brilliant insight that I had never thought about before.

What is a Business System?

I was inspired by Shane’ observation and now want to tell you why I am such a zealot about creating carefully designed and implemented business systems and processes. I hope you too will want to develop a business model so compelling that customers would think themselves “STUPID” to go anywhere else.

Before we start, keep in mind this helpful definition:

A business system is a procedure, process, method, or course of action designed to achieve a specific and predetermined result. Like a recipe, its component parts and interrelated steps work together for a desired outcome. Creating effective business systems is the only way to attain results that are consistent, measurable, benefit customers and workers, and yield an expected profit.

We are speaking now of people systems, not mechanical or electrical systems. For example, they might include lead generation, customer service, production, order fulfillment, purchasing, inventory management, hiring, training, and many others unique to your company. These systems are the daily hum of business activities that determine the success and profitability of your company.

Good Business Systems Run By Good People


10 Things to Ponder

Will you take a moment to consider ten vital principles that may help you and your staff run a more trouble-free, results-driven, and prosperous enterprise?

  1. Good systems are needed in EVERY ORGANIZATION, including YOURS.

    Effective business systems and processes are vital to product-based, service-based, and non-profit companies of every size and in every industry. They are important to the office, the workshop, the factory or the retail store. The critical purposes of your business systems are not just to get organized or systemized, but to consistently attract and retain customers, eliminate waste and inefficiency, and set your company apart in a crowded marketplace. (The only enduring businesses are those with awesome systems and processes! How would you grade yours?)

  2. Business systems are the essential BUILDING BLOCKS of your company.

    Systems and processes are how your employees get routine work done. Unfortunately, in many small businesses, they are improvised as people come and go. Every business owner and entrepreneur can become a “business engineer,” and learn the Master Skill of developing powerful systems and processes. All business functions—marketing, finance, and operations—fall within the scope of this single skill mastery. As Michael Gerber (E-Myth) said, “the business owner must work ON the business, not just IN the business.” Whether by hands-on or overseeing others, you can work ON your business in an intelligent and systematic way by creating valuable systems that continually please customers and accomplish objectives. This is one of your key responsibilities and a best-use of your time. (Decide today to build your business on a foundation of remarkable systems and processes. There is no other way!)

    Business Systems are Your Building Blocks
  1. Cost-effective systems LOWER COSTS and enable you to give customers the BEST DEAL.

    Competition can be formidable. The customer is always looking for the “best deal,” which is sometimes the lowest price, but is always acceptable quality, promptness, value, and a good buying experience. The quality and efficiency of your business processes will largely determine your operating costs and your ability to profitably compete. You can count on exceptional business systems to give you the marketing advantage of being better, faster, cheaper and smarter than rival companies. (With regard to business processes, Quality + Speed = Low Cost. Do not forget that formula!)

  2. System building is the ART AND SCIENCE of developing “BEST PRACTICES” for your company.

    The art of system design comes from your unique vision, creative approach to problem solving, and desire to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. The science comes by applying the Law of Cause and Effect and the simple but amazing improvement methods found in Six Sigma, Lean Thinking, and The Theory of Constraints. A systemized approach to running a business includes a focus on process, system components, people, quality, speed, and measurement. (Business systems are literally the “recipes” for best practices to get work done throughout your organization.)

Creating Business Systems is Both an Art and a Science

  1. Quality systems and processes SOLVE PROBLEMS and foster a CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE.

    Systems Thinking will literally make your business transparent, allowing you to clearly see the root-cause of problems and their obvious solutions. Quickly eliminate customer complaints, operational waste, mediocre performance, worker turnover, unnecessary costs, poor cash flow, slow sales growth, small profit margins, and daily frustration. You can establish a culture of discipline and excellence with smooth-running business systems, performance feedback to workers, and the empowering motivation of accountability. (Documented business processes provide a “visual schematic” for problem solving, innovating, and creating a result-driven culture. And, it is soooo easy to do!)

  2. Good business systems turn ORDINARY PEOPLE into EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMERS.

    Established systems and processes are your most valuable business asset when they can continually produce the results you seek. People are the most important components within those working processes. As people come and go, the systems remain constant. Ordinary people can produce results far above their pay grade if they operate in well-designed and effective systems. Good business systems reduce mistakes, waste, and rework, and allow workers to capably perform higher-level tasks. (When problems do happen, blame the system before blaming people, and perhaps blame yourself for the faulty system.)

Good Business Systems Help People Perform Better

  1. Achieve CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT with a PROCESS IMPROVEMENT MANAGER.

    Whether it is you, a manager or employee (full or part time, and not necessarily a new hire), someone needs to wear the hat of a “Process Improvement Manager.” This person’s role within the company is to maintain efficiency and quality in the work setting. They evaluate current business practices, looking for ways to improve customer service and productivity, reduce costs, and make the best use of the business's resources. Specifically, the process improvement person will develop, refine, and monitor the performance of the company’s vital systems and processes. Ongoing system development promotes continuous learning, growth, and improvement of individuals and organizations. (Innovation at the system level drives all business progress. The primary vehicle for innovation and improvement is the weekly Business Improvement Workshop.)

  2. SYSTEMS THINKING and BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT WORKSHOPS elevate people, products, and processes.

    The Business Improvement Workshop is a one hour per week meeting focused on solving identified problems, refining business practices, and advancing the organization. This brief council meeting improves people, products and processes by encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, engagement, buy-in, and team spirit. For busy owners, the weekly workshop is an important crossroad for relationship building and steady business improvement; there is no better use of time for managers or staff. (Small weekly improvements throughout the year add up to happier customers and employees, and incrementally larger profit.)

Hold Regular Business Improvement Workshops

  1. Exceptional business systems and processes are necessary to START, GROW, FIX, REPLICATE, or RETIRE.

    Start - Effective business systems are the only way to plan, organize, and structure a new business that runs smoothly and impresses customers right from the start.

    Grow – Well-executed systems and processes provide a methodical and consistent way—the best way—to dramatically grow your business and to skillfully manage the special challenges of growth and expansion.

    Fix – Improved business systems cut the waste, inefficiencies, and fat out of your organization (e.g., mistakes, lost time, and rework). Your well-oiled and cost-efficient business operation will delight customers and employees, and put more money into the pockets of stakeholders, including YOU!

    Replicate - Once you create your moneymaking “system”—and document the successful way you do things—it is easy to franchise or replicate your business model in other market locations (especially with Box Theory™ Software).

    Retire – Become free of the daily grind. Turn your entire business into a self-running system that provides consistent results day after day, even when you’re not around. Let someone manage the business for you or sell it for top dollar. The true value and selling potential of your company is found in the maturity of its systems and processes—their ability to consistently produce desired results.

    (No matter what stage of business you are at, or what you want to do to get better, creating quality systems and processes is the only solution. There is no other way!)

  2. Effective business systems PAY FOR THEMSELVES over and over again.

    "If you need a new process and don't install it, you pay for it without getting it." (Ken Stork, former president Association of Manufacturing Excellence). Please believe me when I say, “Good Systems are worth it!” And the larger your company, the greater the potential benefit. The question is not whether you should create business systems, but what new system or process improvements will have the most immediate financial impact. YOU have your hand on the lever of cash flow and profit, so go ahead and turn it up! A small investment to upgrade your operational processes is “the gift to customers, employees, and owners that keeps on giving.” (The financial benefit of high-performance business systems far exceeds their cost of development, and the payoff is often immediate and dramatic.)

A Systematized Business is a Money Making Machine

  1. BONUS TIP: BOX THEORY™ Software will BENEFIT YOU in FOUR WAYS.

    Look, I’m not big on sales hype, but I’ve spent a lot of time and money to create a powerful software program for building remarkable business systems and processes. (It is like the QuickBooks of business systems.) This low-cost product will 1) turn you into an effective Systems Thinker and developer, 2) provide all the tools you need to accomplish this mission-critical task, 3) cut your system development time and cost in half, and 4) trust me, it will raise your business IQ by 80 points—OVERNIGHT! (Learning the Box Theory™ Way could be one of the most important decisions of your business career!)

“Systems are the Solution” (AT&T)

Shortly after returning home from my trip to Texas, I needed to get new tires on my Toyota Highlander. While waiting for the installation, I learned that Discount Tires has opened over nine-hundred stores in the United States since 1960. Now that’s a pretty impressive example of a business operation “run so flawlessly, with marketing systems so compelling, and customer satisfaction so high,” that it could be replicated—and profits multiplied—without end.

I think I would be STUPID to build a business any other way! How about you?

Business systems are the most misunderstood and undervalued tools of entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and managers. If you are not giving up close and personal attention to the processes that drive the day-in and day-out results of your company, I invite you to take the next step to learn more about this most fundamental and indispensable business activity.

Just complete the short form on this page and you’ll be on your way—no money required, nor strings attached. I promise: this eye-opening and free information will get your juices flowing. If I can help you in any way, call me on my cell phone, Ron Carroll, at 801-225-9140, or email me at BoxTheoryGold@gmail.com.

The Next Step...

Tags: Business Systems, Getting Started, Culture, Improvement, Systems Thinker

Box Theory Business Systems: A Journey of Discovery

Posted byRon Carroll

When I started my business career fifty years ago, life was much simpler. The rules for running a successful company were also simpler. Customers were glad to get products and services and didn't fret the details too much. All of that has changed. Customers now have many choices and very high expectations. If companies do not execute with precision, the customer silently vanishes.

Today, you shouldn't start a business unless your you have fire in the belly, a drive to be the best at what you do, and a willingness to pay the price for success.

I retired from my accounting and consulting practice a few years ago—and truthfully—I just wanted to rest for a while. My entrepreneurial career left me with some battle fatigue and a diploma from the school of hard knocks.

However, in the last few years of my career, I stumbled onto something—something quite amazing—that now gets me out of my rocking chair each day.

I am somewhat of a quiet accountant type, not prone to a lot of hype. I like plain truth. In fact, I am a seeker of truth and have little patience for the bloated advertising and misinformation that fill our digital world. I wrote an ebook, Box Theory™: Double Your Profit with High-Performance Business Systems and Processes, that contains many truths that are little-known but essential for business owners to understand. I'm going to give it to you for free. Please keep reading.

In The Beginning

Several years ago, I began to teach my accounting clients how to use financial statements to pinpoint the under-performing areas of their business. This led to an interest in business systems and processes that grew into a passion. I eventually developed a two-day workshop that generated a lot of interest.

One evening while vacationing in Carlsbad, California, I watched a program on the Discovery Channel entitled, "String Theory—the Theory of Everything." I was intrigued to learn that scientists now believe that very tiny strings of energy, far beyond our ability to see through a microscope, are the foundation of all matter.

Do you remember from chemistry class that matter is made of molecules, molecules are made of atoms, and atoms are made of atomic particles (protons, electrons and neutrons)? Since I took chemistry, they have discovered quarks inside the atomic particles. Now, physicists have mathematically proven that these energy "strings" are the basis of everything in our universe.

It struck me that big things in our world contain important small things, which are made of even smaller things—all interdependent. If anything goes wrong with the smaller thing, the effect is felt all the way up the line. Cancer cells can destroy an organ. Organ failure will shut down a system within the body. And a system shutdown can cause the body to die.

The concept reminded me of a poem quoted by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac.

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost,
For want of the horse, the rider was lost.
For want of the rider, the message was lost.
For want of the message, the battle was lost.
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Often, we don't realize the influence that seemingly small things have on events and outcomes in our lives. This includes our business. Consider this:

For want of a minute, a phone call was lost,
For want of a call, a conversation was lost,
For want of a conversation, a relationship was lost,
For want of a relationship, an order was lost,
For want of an order, the revenue was lost,
For want of the revenue, a business was lost.
And all for the want of a minute to make a phone call.

This poem won't be published anytime soon, but you get the idea. In business, we must pay attention to the details—the small things that affect the important things.

Consider for a moment what you are reading right now. The alphabet is a system of twenty-six symbols or letters used for communication. By arranging the letters in a certain order, I create words with meaning. By grouping words together, I can form a sentence that expresses a complete thought. Several sentences form a paragraph. Linked paragraphs create a complete story. Letters, then, are my building blocks for writing this article. If they get out of order, I will fail to communicate with you. How I arrange the letters is what sets me apart from all other writers.

Drilling down on a written document might look something like this:

Cascading Boxes Writing Diagram

 The big idea from this is that we live in a world of systems, the components of which are smaller systems and subsystems, all working together for the good of the whole. Important activities are going on at every level down to minutest detail. To improve the outcome of a higher-level system (sentence), you must fix or improve the flaws of a lower-level system (words or letters; e.g. misspelled word).

One day in a business improvement workshop, I was flowcharting a system on the whiteboard—creating boxes for each step with the arrows between. In a momentary flash, I realized that an entire organization is made of flowchart boxes that are connected, and, which influence one another. In the days that followed, the concept of Box Theory™ emerged, a unique way of looking at the structure of any organization.

Box Theory™ has taken me on a journey of discovery far more important than I ever imagined. It has literally changed my life, not just my business career. I have a new and inspired view of the world—how things work together and affect each other—that makes it possible to see solutions to problems clearly and quickly, and how to improve any task or process for maximum results. It's really quite extraordinary!

My Gift To You

My purpose for writing the Box Theory™ ebook is to give business owners and organization leaders a new way to look at their business—in high-definition—that will enable them to compete in a crowded and unforgiving marketplace. Box Theory™ is not weird science, but natural and intuitive. It is not based on strange new techniques, but upon rock-solid and proven principles that are used every day by successful organizations (see more about Box Theory™).

Truthfully, Box Theory™ is the way you already do things, without realizing it. Now, your effort will be planned, systematic and far more effective. You will have a powerful "system" for creating your business systems.

The timeless truths that you learn in this course will provide the foundation for a life-long business career. Perhaps like me, you will see the application of Box Theory™ in every aspect of your life.

Now, as a gift to those who read this article—which is also the foreword to the ebook—I want to give you a free copy of Box Theory™: Double Your Profit with High-Performance Business Systems and Processes. It is on my website and sells every day for $19.95. If, after reading it, you have time to tell me what you think, I would greatly appreciate it.

All you have to do to get the ebook is sign up for my weekly newsletter (upper right column) and other free items for creating better business systems and processes. Then, shoot me an email—rcarroll@BoxTheoryGold.com—and tell me you want a copy of the free ebook. I will send you the link with no strings attached.

My only hope is that with this powerful information you will become a Box Theory™ enthusiast and practitioner, and can create a truly remarkable business enterprise!

The Next Step...

Tags: eBook, Business Leader, Getting Started

Is Box Theory™ Small Business Software Right for You?

Posted byRon Carroll

After reading my weekly newsletter-blog, or browsing my website, you may wonder if The Box Theory™ Way is right for you—whether you should make the leap. That’s a fair question, and I want you to take an informed investment decision.  So, let’s determine if Box Theory™ Software is a good fit with your organization.

Since 2004, and a cost of nearly half-million dollars, I have been on a personal mission to bring the business process management (BPM) strategies of Fortune 500 companies to the world of small business. These powerful methods are available in my unique software product, Box Theory™ Gold.

Box Theory Software Home Page

Box Theory™ small-business software will enable you to create an organization blueprint and then build high-performance business systems and processes to support the vision, strategy and goals of your organization. I have no doubt that one day most successful companies will be built upon these proven principles and techniques. Those that catch the vision early will have a significant advantage.

Do You Need Box Theory Software?

Now, ask yourself the following questions. Ponder each one carefully and determine how many apply to you. Keep in mind, they all point to a profound conclusion advanced by AT&T:  “Systems are the Solution.”

  1. Are you a small to medium-size business? Do you rely on the effective interaction of people and processes to produce high-quality goods and services, delivered fast, and at the lowest possible price?                

  2. Are you a person who cares about details and wants a smooth-running operation, even when you’re not around? Do you envision a results-oriented company with a culture of discipline and excellence, and where people love coming to work and perform at their very best?

  3. Is your business overly dependent on you, requiring constant hands-on involvement? Do you want to become an absentee owner, replicate your money-making operation in other markets, or create long-term value that will bring top-dollar when you decide to sell?

  4. Do you have a seat-of-the-pants operation with unnecessary mistakes, lost time and rework, where inefficiencies are costing you money and making it difficult to compete? Are you frustrated by disorganization, under-performing people, weak sales and growth, customer dissatisfaction, poor cash flow, or low profit margins? Would fixing broken business systems and processes put more money into the pocket of YOU and your stakeholders?

  5. Are you interested in learning powerful business management strategies used by Fortune 500 companies—the basics of Six Sigma, Lean Thinking, The Theory of Constraints, Balanced Scorecard, and SWOT Analysis? Would you be even more interested in a methodology—The Box Theory™ Way— that turns these often complex and expensive techniques into a simple and intuitive solution for busy owners on a budget?

  6. Are you a business start-up? Do you need to establish basic business systems and processes that enable you to impress customers right from the start? Are you anxious to become profitable in the shortest possible time?

  7. Is your company growing rapidly and causing you to lose control of operational details? Are you looking for the best way to manage expansion skillfully? Would upgrading business processes help you maintain high-quality products and services that keep customers happy and coming back for more?

  8. Finally, do you truly believe that effective business systems and processes are essential to your success? Do you have the will to commit time and resources, and to stick with it? Are you convinced that the financial benefits will far outweigh the costs, and that your result will be a superior business organization?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then spending a few hundred dollars is a no-brainer to get the results you are looking for. Yes, “Systems are the Solution.” And with a little effort, Box Theory™ Software can put thousands of dollars on your bottom line and into your pocket.

Good business systems put money in your pocket 

A System for Creating Your Business Systems

Box Theory™ small-business software is as effective at building systems and processes as QuickBooks is at accounting. It will take your “E-myth” systems (Michael Gerber) to the next level.

Box Theory™ Software will help you design, flowchart, organize, document, manage, store, and print everything pertaining to your business systems and processes. More importantly, the Box Theory™ methodology will guide your thinking to build a business in the proper way.

What could be better than a powerful software system for developing and maintaining your business systems?!

Learn how the experts perform this most fundamental of all business tasks. I call it the Master Skill, and Box Theory™ Software is the best and only tool of its kind to do the job!

If you think this product is a good fit for your organization, start now to build growth-producing, customer-pleasing, waste-removing, profit-generating business systems and processes that will blow your competition away!

AND REMEMBER, There is a no-risk, iron-clad, money-back guarantee! Every day you wait is probably costing more than the software, so decide which version and price is right for you, and let's get going!

Other details you may be interested in:
Is Box Theory™ Gold Software Right for You?
Is Box Theory™ Silver Software Right for You?
Software Screens and Details (click topics in left column)
Software Features and Comparison 
Software Tour

 

The Next Step...

Tags: Product Information, Business Systems, Getting Started

Your First Business Improvement Workshop

Posted byRon Carroll

Business improvement workshops are an excellent way of focusing attention on the specific areas of your organization that are preventing you from achieving your full potential. These muscle meetings are the foundation for creating a remarkable company.

Business Improvement Workshop

Highly-productive workshops are among your most important business systems. Below is a workshop procedure that will give you outstanding results.

  1. Assign a workshop leader. This can be the CEO, department manager, or a team leader. Others may be invited to lead a specific workshop discussion.

  2. Set a schedule for weekly meetings. Attendance is a non-negotiable requirement of every person's job description. The workshop can be held at a company, department, or team level, depending on the size of your organization. Keep groups under twenty people.

  3. Begin the meeting by providing brief training on a relevant business improvement principle. You can include topics from the Box Theory™ eCourse, the System Thinker’s Blog, or other good books and articles. This is also a great time to review your company’s mission, values, strategy or goals. Consider inviting team members to take turns presenting this five-minute instruction.

  4. In your initial workshop, ask one of the following questions. Give people a few minutes to think and write their answers.

    What are the things preventing us from being a great company?
    What frequent frustrations or complaints do our customers or employees have?
    What challenges are we facing? What are the consequences of not changing, improving or solving these problems?
    What specific things could we do to improve some aspect of our company, department, or team?

  5. List the unique responses on a whiteboard. Go around the room and ask everyone to name their top three choices. Put three tally marks by each person’s first choice, two for their second choice, and one by their third choice. From this count, you can determine the highest priorities and topics for future workshops. If you are a company of Systems Thinkers, write next to each response the name of the business system or process that needs to be created or improved.

  6. At successive improvement workshops, write the selected topic and/or problem on the whiteboard. Discuss your current condition or results, and what new outcome is desired of the improved process. Spend time planning, working out better procedures, and refining the company policiesthe three P's. As appropriate, focus on the six key system elements—process, components, people, quality, speed and measurement.

  7. Following the workshop, the leader or a designated person should write up the new policies and procedures. Give the document a title such as “Customer Service Responses,” “Hiring Procedure,” or “Quality Control Checklist.” Copy everyone for review.

  8. At the next workshop, take a few minutes after the brief training to evaluate the previous draft document. Ask for feedback and make any adjustments or refinements. The leader should delegate assignments and set a date to have the new policies or procedures implemented.

  9. Put a final copy in a procedure binder (physical or digital), which is a training manual for new people. Each document is one or two pages. At the end of a year, you will have 50-100 pages of policies and procedures. As you refine your business systems, replace the old documents with new ones. Assign someone to keep the binder updated.

  10. Remind people of the date, time, and topic of the next workshop. Make any assignments necessary for them to prepare. Compliment everyone on a job well done. Be sure to recognize the accomplishments of the group as improved systems or processes come on-line and begin to pay off. Celebrate victories… Do I hear pizza party?

Preserve Your Best Practices

Imagine if you planned and implemented policies and procedures for every step of your core business systems such as sales, customer service, hiring, employee training, and so forth. When new people join the company, they get the collective wisdom and “best practices” that have been developed over time by experienced people. When top people leave, your high-performance systems remain intact.

Collaborative workshops are easy to do and draw the best ideas out of people. They unite them on the vision of the organization, and get everyone moving together with aligned goals.

In a year, you will be a different organization, with dramatic improvements in all areas of your operation. One hour a week is all it takes to grow a remarkable business! Don’t put it off!

 

1.      At the next workshop, take a few minutes after the instruction period to evaluate the previous draft document. Ask for feedback and make any adjustments or refinements. The leader should delegate assignments and set a date to have the new policies or procedures implemented.

The Next Step...

Tags: Business Systems, People, Improvement, Culture, Getting Started

8 Characteristics of Good Business Systems!

Posted byRon Carroll

How do you know when you have good business systems such as lead generation, customer care, hiring, order fulfillment, and many others unique to your organization?

Well, the best answer to that question is whether your business systems are hitting their mark, whether they're getting the intended results. Stakeholders, customers, and employees are also feeling pretty good about your operation. And, you don’t kick the dog when you go home at night. But let’s be a little more specific.

Good Business Systems Hit the Mark

Hitting the Target

Does your business system or process include the following eight characteristics?

  1. The system is designed with the customer in mind. (Does this system help turn your customers into loyal fans?)

  2. The system represents your best-known way of doing something. (Be honest. Is this the best you can do, or could you make the process better?)

  3. The system has one primary purpose. (What is the single objective of this business system, and does it help you accomplish your company objectives?)

  4. The system has an owner. (Who is accountable for, and reports on system results?)

  5. The system is as simple as possible, documented, understood by workers, and repeatable. (Is your system in writing? Are your people motivated and capable?)

  6. The system has performance standards, and results are measured. (Improvement requires measurement. Are you "managing by the numbers"?)

  7. Workers get ongoing feedback about system performance and are recognized for good results. (The more frequently people get feedback, the better they perform. Do you celebrate victories?)

  8. There is a sufficient focus on system details to eliminate most bottlenecks, inefficiencies, waste, and rework. (Every process has waste. Have you reduced it to a minimum?)

Never Stop Improving

Your small business can become a great business if you have a never-ending desire to improve. Do you have the will, the pig-headed determination to create business systems and processes with the characteristics described above?

You’ll know you have arrived after you go on a month-long vacation and find the business running smoothly when you return? Now, that's a goal worth working towards! Wouldn't you agree?

Polish one or two systems at a time. Before you know it, your whole business will shine. And keep in mind, Box Theory™ Software will enable you to create exceptional business systems and processes with all eight of the essential characteristics—AND IN HALF THE TIME. Let's get going!

 

The Next Step...

Tags: Business Systems, Quality, Efficiency/Speed, Getting Started, Measurement

So, What Exactly is a Business System?

Posted byRon Carroll

A person recently asked me what I meant by the term "business system." I thought others might like to know a definition that works for me.

A system is a procedure, process, method, or course of action designed to achieve a specific result. Its component parts and interrelated steps work together for the good of the whole. Creating effective business systems is the only way to attain results that are consistent, measurable, and ultimately benefit customers.

Systems are Your Building Blocks

Systems and processes are the essential building blocks of your company, whether you realize it or not. Every facet of your business—in the store, the workshop, or the office—is part of a system that can be managed or improved by applying correct principles.

Imagine the typical business activities below as carefully designed systems, each producing the daily results you need to be successful. Of course, you could list many other systems and subsystems unique to your organization.

EXAMPLES OF BUSINESS SYSTEMS
Lead Generation Customer Service Purchasing
Sales Conversion Hiring Inventory Management
Website Training Shipping
Pricing Accounting Information Systems
Operations Payroll Safety
Order Fulfillment Collections Custodial


Having effective business systems is the only practical way to manage the important details of your operation. These details are found in lower-level subsystems. For example, your marketing system may have a subsystem called lead generation. The lead generation system could have subsystems such as direct mail, telemarketing, or radio advertising. Systems and subsystems are the workhorses that deliver consistent results, even when you're not around.

A business system may be as simple as a checklist created in an hour or two. However, more complex systems can take days or even weeks to implement. The best systems consider such elements as design, components, people, quality, speed and measurement.

There are "best practices" for creating high-performance business systems and processes that pay big dividends when applied correctly.

The "Magic Formula" for Success

Good systems take waste and inefficiency out of your business and help you give customers what they want every single time. They are the solution to weak sales growth, low profit margins, customer dissatisfaction, poor performance, excessive costs, inadequate cash flow, employee turnover, and daily frustration.

A systems approach to building an organization eliminates generalized solutions, seat-of-the-pants operations, employee discretion, and everything else left to chance. These hindrances are replaced with detailed procedures, performance standards, and accountability. You are saying to your employees, "This is how we do it here!"

Michael Gerber said, "Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant" (E-Myth Revisited).

Remarkable Systems are Everywhere

Our natural world is a great example of systems at work—solar systems, ecosystems, weather systems, bodily systems, and so forth. Man has wisely followed this pattern to solve problems and make extraordinary advancements.

In truth, the best companies are also those with the best business systems and processes. Many highly-successful companies of our day started with one major innovative system—McDonald's fast food, Federal Express overnight delivery, and Google Internet search, to name a few. These companies, and thousands of others, have built their fortunes on one or more remarkable systems that serve customers better than anyone else in their target market.

Now that you know what a business system is, it's time to identify yours, elevate them to higher performance, and enjoy greater profit.


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I will show you how to eliminate business frustrations and make more money by creating effective systems and processes that will boost your customer loyalty, profitability and growth. The application of these strategies has proven to be of great worth for many small and mid-size business owners. Put me to the test!

If you haven't already done so, please sign up below to get 5 Free hand-picked items that will guide you to an immediate financial payoff. You will learn the following, and much more:

  • How to become a Systems Thinker and raise your business I.Q. by 80 points—OVERNIGHT.
  • What six elements are found in every great business system.
  • How you can remove waste and inefficiency, and build a results-driven organization.
  • Why good systems and processes are the essential ingredient to start, grow, fix or franchise (replicate) your business.

 

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Tags: Business Systems, System Example, Getting Started

Four Easy Steps to Creating a New Business System!

Posted byRon Carroll

Do you believe business systems are important, but you're not sure how to get started? It's actually easy and even fun. Let me show you a quick way to create a draft of your system design. Then you can let someone else—secretary, student assistant, team leader, or manager—prepare the final document and acquire the necessary system components.

Step 1 - Bring Together the Team

When I want to outline out a new business system, or improve an existing one, I often conduct a whiteboard discussion with key people such as managers, supervisors, and team members. I not only want their ideas, insights and experience, but I want their buy-in and commitment when the new system is deployed.

I prepare for the meeting by gathering any system-performance or financial data, and by inquiring about customer complaints or employee frustrations. I try to begin the discussion with a good idea of the problems or challenges.

Step 2 - Determine the System Objective

At the top of the whiteboard, I first write the name of the business system we are addressing (e.g., lead generation, customer service, order fulfillment).  I then briefly discuss with the group how the current system is performing (baseline data), and what the perceived problems or challenges are. I may even use a 5-Whys Analysis to uncover the root cause. Properly identifying the underlying problem often points to the solution! Finally, I write on the whiteboard our agreed-upon system objective and measurable goal.

Step 3 - Flowchart the System

On the left side of the whiteboard, I draw and label a box with the first step of the system. On the right side of the whiteboard, I put a box with the last step of the system. It is very important to establish the correct beginning and ending points. We don't want to overlap with other business systems. With input from the team, I draw the rest of the flowchart boxes and connecting arrow-lines, modifying box names, and re-positioning until we are satisfied with the basic system design.

Flowchar Your Business Systems

Sometimes our process has decision points with alternate paths such as a customer choice between a "standard service" and a "deluxe service." In addition to the steps moving forward, the process may also have a path that loops back for rework. For example, an application is "not approved" or a manufactured part "fails inspection." These additional paths are incorporated into our flowchart.

After much discussion, sharing different points of view, experimenting with alternate logic, and trying to reach a consensus, we finally agree on the best way to accomplish the objective of the business system.

Step 4 - Identify the System Components

The next task is to identify the major components needed to perform the steps of the process. Under each flowchart box, we list the different forms, checklists, tools, equipment, software, and so forth, necessary to complete the step successfully. With group participation, we identify most components; however, we can add others later when refining the system. I usually list one to five important component parts per step—not many.

Add System Components

Note: The greatest weakness of most new system developers is not identifying or acquiring the necessary "component documents." Somebody has to create the checklists, job descriptions, telephone scripts, policies, forms, worksheets, and so forth—the paperwork. Carefully consider these items for each step in your process. They are the essential ingredients of an effective business system. Delegate the acquisition of system components as much as possible.

By following this simple procedure, we now have a draft design of our business system or process. We've identified what we want the system to do, how we will do it, and what component parts are necessary to do it right.

Proper Tools Reduce Time and Cost

Here comes the pitch. With Box Theory™ Gold software, you can have a person in the meeting quickly copy the flowchart and component notes from the whiteboard into the software. By the time the meeting is over, the system is well on its way to completion. It's that simple!

Creating systems and processes that delight customers, bring about a happy and productive workforce, reduce frustration, and boost profit, is easy when you look at your business through the eyes of a Systems Thinker.

Now go pick a business system you are dying to improve, and have your first whiteboard discussion. As the song goes, "This could be the start of something big!"

 

The Next Step...

Tags: Systems Thinker, Business Systems, Getting Started

Who Needs Business Systems?

Posted byRon Carroll

A person recently asked me, "What do you do for a living?" I replied that I help business owners learn how to develop effective systems and processes. The person responded, "How boring; I feel sorry for you." ... Ouch! That hurt, as if he said something bad about one of my kids.

I guess I am a bit odd because I find systems fascinating. They are the secret to social and scientific advancement, and they provide the solution to many of the world's problems. They operate in nature, in societies, in governments, in business, and in families. Smart people recognize the importance of good systems and processes. Wise people learn how to use them to their advantage.

Systems Thinking

Truthfully, if you aren't attracted to Systems Thinking like iron to a magnet, like bees to honey, like flies to a... well you know what I mean, then you really shouldn't be in business. I mean that sincerely. By the way, all three of those attractions are part of nature's amazing systems. They happen for a reason, and each provides a positive benefit to the world.

Where is Your Business Today?

Building exceptional systems and processes to profitably find and serve customers is the Master Skill of the entrepreneur. Creating systems that consistently get desired results is critical at every stage of business development. So, which of the following describes you?

  • Starting a Business? Create essential business systems to organize and structure a new company that runs smoothly and impresses customers right from the start. If you begin your business as a Systems Thinker, you will never regret it. Systems and processes are your building blocks to success. There is no other way!

  • Growing a Business? Effective marketing and sales systems are the catalyst to growth. However, after the euphoria of increased demand, don't slip into crisis mode with inadequate systems for making or delivering your products and services. Many companies can't handle rapid growth—too many system inputs. Owners lose control. System-breakdowns lead to ruin. You must elevate unsatisfactory systems and processes to increase throughput and keep customers happy. There is no other way!

  • Fixing a Business? Most small businesses are filled with mistakes, lost time, and rework, often unnoticed by busy owners and managers. Effective systems dramatically reduce waste and inefficiencies. In a tough economy, every penny counts. Cut out the fat and put more money into the pocket of your stakeholders—including yourself—with smooth-running and cost-effective business systems and processes. There is no other way!

  • Franchising a Business? Turn your entire operation into a self-running system that provides consistent results day after day. Let someone manage the business for you, or replicate it in other markets. Once you create your moneymaking machineand document the successful way you do things—it is easy to franchise or repeat in other locations. Good business systems and processes enable you to become independent and free of the daily grind. Again, there is no other way!

Do You Have the Entrepreneurial Bug?

You may not need to focus on system development if you are self-employed, a network marketer, or a franchise owner. Self-employed people usually have the systems in their head; they are the system. Network marketers plug into an existing system. Franchise owners buy a business with all the systems and processes developed, proven, and ready to go. They also pay a premium for this service.

However, if you are an entrepreneur, you have the bug to create your own unique systems for providing remarkable products and services to your target market. I applaud your drive and courage!

Final Note and Caution: Don't be fooled into thinking that you can prosper without obedience to the laws that govern success. Don't believe that you can ignore the Law of Cause and Effect—everything happens for a reason. Don't believe that you can build a lasting and profitable business without using high-performance systems and processes to create consistent and predictable results.

Be Smart. Become a Systems Thinker!

 

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Tags: Systems Thinker, Laws/Principles, Getting Started, Systems

Six Qualities of Highly Effective Business Systems!

Posted byRon Carroll

There is only one way you can create a smooth-running and prosperous business that reaches its full potential. It is by developing effective systems and processes that enable you to continually find and keep customers.

Creating effective business systems is the art and science of "business engineering." It requires creativity and innovation (art) as well as logic and organization (science). System development is your primary task as a business owner. Please read further.

Business Systems are Art and ScienceSystems = Art and Science
Above image is "fractal art" generated by mathematical calculation


The operational systems you create must combine six important elements. They include the following:

  1. Process: Effective systems—in the store, the office, or the factory—are well designed, smooth running, evenly paced, and use standardized procedures. They seek to eliminate idle time, mistakes, downtime, unnecessary movement, bottlenecks, and inventory buildup. You make money when your systems are stable, steady and sustained.

  2. Components: A system must have all the necessary components to function properly, such as checklists, forms, reports, equipment, software, supplies, tools, equipment, people, and other resources. Missing or poor-quality system components are a major weakness of most small businesses.

  3. People: People are often the most important and most expensive system components. Put the right people in the right job with first-rate training, incentives and accountability. Effective business systems leverage ordinary people to produce extraordinary results.

  4. Quality: Good systems have minimal mistakes, waste, and rework that keep costs down. Products or services are delivered as promised and free of defects; they meet or exceed customer specifications and expectations. Any quality considerations that are critical to the customer must be critical to you, or the customer will take their business elsewhere.

  5. Speed: Efficient business systems have short lead-times and high throughput by squeezing delay, bottlenecks and "speed bumps" out of the process. They run fast enough to deliver on-schedule or by deadlines. Speed creates higher employee productivity and work satisfaction, increased capacity for sales, faster invoicing and cash flow cycles, happier customers who will buy again, and overall lower costs.

  6. Measurement: Renowned business authority Peter Drucker says, "You cannot manage what you cannot measure." Continuous measurement and feedback drive all process improvements. What measures drive the "economic engine" of your business? Establish process measurements that let you know every day how you stand in relation to your business goals. Strive to better your best!

When you carefully incorporate these six qualities into your business systems and processes, you will see remarkable results. Costs will go down. Customers will be happier. You will have an organization of excellence and be on-track to reach your full potential.

 

The Next Step...

Tags: People, Quality, Efficiency/Speed, Getting Started, Measurement, Systems

Business Systems are Your Essential Building Blocks!

Posted byRon Carroll

Mini-Course Day 1: "Fast Start to Systems Thinking"

I know that owning a business brings a lot of daily challenges and frustrations that can remove much of the joy. I've owned several companies and worked in the trenches with many business owners over the years. Regretfully, it took much of my career to figure out the one absolute way to solve every business problem and eliminate most of the aches and pains.

Have you ever had any of these or similar thoughts?

  • "My cash flow is stressing me out."
  • "I can't seem to hire good people."
  • "Our quality needs improvement."
  • "Employees are wasting time."
  • "I don't get enough sales leads."
  • "Profits are down."

In this 10-Day Fast-Start Min-Course, I want to show you how well-designed systems and processes are the solutions to all of your business problems. You may be thinking, "I already have systems." And I know you do. But frankly, most people don't fully understand the true nature of systems, and how to develop them for maximum results.

"Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant" (Michael Gerber, "E-Myth Revisited").


Discover the Power of Effective Business Systems

Effective systems are the essential building blocks of every successful and profitable business; they encompass every business function! The ability to create effective business systems and processes is a learned skill based upon powerful and proven principles. In the next ten days, I'm going to discuss ways you can harness the power of your business systems to create a high-performance organization that will increase your customer loyalty, profitability, and overall business success.

What exactly is an effective system? It is a procedure, process, method, or course of action that produces a consistent and measurable result. Systems enable your business to accomplish its most important objective—to profitably find and keep customers—even without your hands-on involvement!

Good systems are the “magic formula” for success! They increase efficiency, accomplish objectives and give customers what they want every single time. They are the solution to frustrations, waste of resources, poor performance, and other business problems.

While the right people are critical to an organization, a mature business operation has fully developed systems and is systems-dependent rather than people-dependent.

If properly designed and implemented, systems boost cash flow and profit. The financial return of good business systems far exceeds the cost of their development.

When I go about doing business in the marketplace, I don't get frustrated with people so much any more. I see poorly designed or executed systems. And the person usually at fault is the business owner, not the employees. Owners or managers have failed to install an effective system or process. Could that be happening to you?

System Development is the Master Skill

I’m now going to make a rather bold statement: Developing effective business systems is the primary skill that must be mastered by the small-business owner and entrepreneur! All business functions—marketing, finance, and operations—fall within the scope of this single skill mastery.

When all of your business systems and processes—marketing, accounting, customer care, hiring, production, order fulfillment, and so forth—are delivering predetermined, consistent, and desirable results, your business will grow and flourish. It will become remarkable!

One day, you will be able to sell your company for top dollar, franchise it, or hire someone to manage it for you. You will enjoy the rich harvest of your labors. There is no other way!

Developing effective business systems is both an art and a science. I teach you how to do it in my eCourse, "Box Theory™: Double Your Profit with High-Performance Systems and Processes," I think it's the best few bucks you can spend. There is no risk, so please take a look (I never get requests for refunds with this ebook).

I think you'll see the same value as did a recent customer:

"WOW! This Is Great. I'll be eating this up all weekend. Can't wait to share results with you."—Jay M.

Tomorrow we will discuss how the quality and efficiency of your business systems leads to lower costs, higher profit, and a competitive advantage—just what you need in our ailing economy!

Return to Table of Contents
Mini-Course, "Fast-Start to Systems Thinking"

 

The Next Step...

Tags: Getting Started, Systems, Mini-Course