Project Management

Systems Mindset Shift

One of the most common questions I get asked as a business owner is about creating systems, so I decided to delve into this topic during my recent Learn–A–Latte chat. Systems are pervasive throughout my work and personal life–I sometimes joke that they are one of my love languages! While systems can be incredibly helpful, implementing them can be intimidating. Here are some reasons why systems are worth investing time in, and tips on using systems to optimize your workflow and daily routine. 

Barriers to Creating Systems

  • You Feel You Don’t Have The Time: It’s ironic that you need systems in place to help turn down the noise and make stuff happen, but sometimes the stress of creating systems makes you avoid them. I get it! As a business owner, I know you are always forging ahead, and taking the time to create systems, training materials, and onboard help, feels like it requires you to stop. However, with thoughtful integration, you can create systems without pausing–you may just need to slow down for a moment or two. 
  • You’re the Only One: Especially if you have just started your own business, you may get the feeling that you are the only one capable of handling everything. You know where the files are, you know how to put out fires, and you can work faster than anyone else. Trust me, I’ve been there. When I first founded Piccolo, I was managing 17 retainer clients by myself, and I became severely burnt out. Running a business isn’t the same as working corporate–you don’t have to make yourself irreplaceable. You have to become someone that people are excited to work with and follow. 
  • You Don’t Know Where To Start: Because you’re running your own business, it feels like you have to just slog through obstacles rather than find ways to overcome them. Systems may seem overwhelming, time-consuming, or expensive. I’m here to help shift your mindset and make systems work for you by integrating their creation into your daily routine. 

Tips For Creating Systems 

  • Change Your Mindset:  I want you to reframe the way you think about creating systems. You may think that you have to come to a complete stop to create systems and implement structure to your business, but in fact, the best systems are often the ones that you make while working. Let’s say that you have a list of responsibilities that you’d love to be able to scale, systemize, automate, or train someone else to do. The next time you tackle one of these tasks, record yourself and narrate each step, and you’ve got a training video. This is one technique to create systems that does not require you to stop–you simply slow down a smidge, and now you can analyze the way you do a task or help teach others to do so for you.
    • Utilize Accessible Tools: Too often, we don’t take advantage of the technological resources available to us. For the narrating exercise mentioned above, Loom, a free Google Chrome extension, is a fantastic resource. It also transcribes your video for you, so that you can copy and paste the transcription into Google Docs, and boom! You now have a written, shareable form that explains how and why you do a task a certain way. As you expand your team, you want to make it easy to work on social media, projects, blogs, and more with others. Asana is an excellent project management system that streamlines communication and workflow. As a small business owner, I am a big fan of free and affordable resources–they make all the difference! 
  • Take Note: Here’s another exercise that can help you figure out where to integrate systems into your routine. Keep a blank notebook next to you while you’re working. Every time a thought passes through your head like, “I wish somebody else could do this,” “I don’t think I’m the best person for this task,” or even, “I dislike or actively hate doing this,” reach over and make a note about it. You’ll find that these tasks are the ones that are draining your time and energy, and there are likely other people who would thrive in these roles. 
  • Go Step By Step: Creating videos and checklists for each task and following an order of operations makes work easy for others to take over. You can then utilize a project management system such as Asana to create recurring tasks for each client or project. Then, you and your team complete your assigned tasks, marking things off as you go. Now you have a functioning, cyclical system that can work for you as your company grows. Even if you have come from a mindset of being hyper-independent as a business owner, you’ll soon find that working with a team with reliable systems in place proves to be so much more productive and is vital to growing (and scaling!) your business. 

As a coach, business owner, and marketing strategist, I am inspired to motivate other entrepreneurs to make positive changes in their daily lives. I invite you to join me, Anna-Vija McClain, at my next Learn–A–Latte LinkedIn Audio Room on Wednesday, May 1st! I look forward to chatting with you then!

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