Highly Chilled Habit #7: Be Systematic

work-life-balance business owner leading balanced life

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the fifth article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Habit #7:

Highly Chilled Business Owners are Systematic

systematic accuracy

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must always be on the prowl for parts of your processes that can be turned into repeatable systems

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1: Be dependable here

If McDonald’s Did Flowers

Amanda sells bunches of flowers. It’s a simple concept, but she manages the process in a way that no one else thought of before she came along. Amanda wants her business to be the McDonald’s of floristry by keeping repeatability, dependability, expandability, speed, convenience and price at the heart of what she delivers.

In order to achieve this, Amanda has had to invent her whole business model and production process from scratch. It had never been done before in her industry because, as is the case with restaurants and chefs, the success of a floristry business relies on the creative vision and genius of the florist. Besides, flowers are natural products and one night’s unexpected frost can leave said creative vision in tatters.


Be Analytical, Like Amanda

In Amanda’s business, a limited number of different bunches of flowers are created and produced in large quantities every day, 7 days a week.

The composition of each one is determined by the market purchaser on the day.

The purchaser makes decisions dependent on that early morning’s availability and market prices.

Getting the day’s bunches right was historically a hit and miss affair – and something that gave Amanda sleepless nights.

So, Amanda set about creating a database of every bunch produced in a year. By the end of the year, there were hundreds and hundreds of bunches recorded.

Each record held photos of the completed product, a list of the components, the cost of the ingredients, the total cost of the bunch and the time taken to create each one. The bunch records were further categorised by month, by the person who created it and its popularity with customers.

Making it Easy

A year later, Amanda can send her purchaser to the day’s markets with simple instructions relevant to the season and state of the markets. All the purchaser has to do is pull out a tablet with the records of previous bunches from the same season and compare what’s in stock at the right price that day. The result? Making precisely the right flower purchases for that day’s production.

What was previously a hit and miss affair has become one of the simplest aspects of Amanda’s business.

That’s because even something as creative and dependent on external factors as flowers can benefit from systemisation. Many times, you might have to imagine your own systemised solution to a problem. However, getting into the habit of looking for opportunities to systemise your business is what will turn an ordinary business into a Highly Chilled one.

Amanda’s is a Highly Chilled business and Amanda is a Highly Chilled small business owner.

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own.

Practice Highly Chilled habit #7:

Your business consists of many, many processes (from answering the telephone and sending invoices to building the products and delivering the services you sell). Start by creating a list with as many repeating processes as you can think of in your business. Now, go and pick the low hanging fruit first.

Ask yourself: What’s the easiest process to create a simple system for? What’s the next low hanging fruit?

Don’t panic. You don’t need to tick them all off at once. Just do this exercise once a week or even once a month – but do get started this week! And remember, building a Highly Chilled business isn’t rocket science. All it takes is baby steps, time and consistency. Keep at it and you’ll be surprised by how different your business and life will look.

Next, you might like to carry out my business owners self assessment survey, I’m sure it will give you some food for thought

More on this topic:

1001 Business Bedtime stories… Michael Cleans Carpets and Builds Dashboards

1001 Business Bedtime stories…… Truth 3, Finger on The Pulse

Truth 3, Planning
Little richard measures and plans his business

Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” … Every story comes straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage and they illustrate an aspect of one of The Ten Truths… You might recognise some of them from your own experience.

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Michael had a carpet cleaningbusiness …

Michael owned a carpet cleaning business in Sydney. Michael had 10 vans on the road with carpet cleaning equipment and Michael would book the jobs and do the marketing and generally run the company.

Michael’s life was full of crises, in fact most of his days involved extinguishing brush fires and he would never know where the next crisis would come from. Most of the crises involved his staff not delivering the customer service or quality that Michael’s clients expected and the only way to manage these issues was by Michael going out and fixing the problems himself.

There were many factors at play of course but Michael found it difficult to keep his staff accountable to specific performance criteria on quality and customer service. How do you measure the quality of a cleaning job and how do you measure the level of customer service and satisfaction you have delivered? But as the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

“If only I had a simple way to measure “Good Work” and “Good Service” that I can apply across the board and use to manage the performance of the guys ?” kept going round and round in Michael’s head.
Michael was at the end of his tether.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Michael learnt that you can create relative measures for intangible things. For example If you were asked to give a score out of ten how happy you felt at this moment, where “10” was that you felt delirious and “0” meant that you were at risk of self harming, you might say “6”. If I were to ask the same question again tomorrow you might answer with “7”. This would lead us to reach a valid conclusion on your state of happiness tomorrow relative to today.

This same principle can be used to measure all sorts of intangible things in life and lends itself really well to measure quality and service and satisfaction levels.

We went to work to create a self scoring system, where a staff-member filled in a small form at the end of each job in which he gave himself and the just completed job a series of scores out of 100 on a number of different measures (for example: “Give yourself a score out of 100 for being punctual”)

The forms would be collated in a spreadsheet and the numbers averaged for each staff member and for the business as a whole. Every week on Monday morning Michael received a report from his admin assistant with the average performance numbers across the company for service and quality in the last week. At the same time Michael had his assistant call 10% of all clients every week and ask them to rate the completed jobs in a similar manner and these ratings were listed side by side with the staff member’s own ratings. The staff members would be given access to the customer ratings as well and as required Michael would sit down with individual staff members, compare notes and generally help the staff improve on their ratings and become more accurate in their self-scores.

This scoring system completely changed the way Michael thought about managing his business and he realised that the way to build a great company and great business value was to step back and create management systems, scoreboards and dashboards.

So she did… and it took a lot of courage… Michael created 3 different weekly dashboards: one for operations, one for marketing and one for finances.

Now 5 years later Michael is negotiating to sell his business. The price he is likely to sell for  is at least 3 times what he would have been able to sell it for a few years back, because now he is selling a business that operates almost independently from Michael himself.

And Michael as well as the new owners of Michael’s business will live happily ever after… The End

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Business?

Find out more about the Small Business Bootcamp here

Or follow this link to New Perspectives Business Coaching