Unlike most books proselytizing entrepreneurship, Roth doesn’t sugar coat the entrepreneurial process or the possible benefits of owning a business. Instead, she makes it abundantly clear that most people will never succeed in business and simply aren’t cut out for it.
Tough as it was to swallow, it’s true. And, being part of the “you can do anything you put your mind to” camp it was a truth that didn’t sit well with me.
But when I took the time to think about the entrepreneurs I knew who started their businesses at the same time I did, very few are still standing.
Many realized they preferred working for others. Some simply couldn’t stay committed to the journey. But, most of the entrepreneurs that I knew where no longer in business because they just couldn’t get out from under their business and grow it. Their businesses crumbled on them.
They were so bogged down with 50 million tasks, requests, and deadlines that they could never bring enough money in to afford the lifestyle they desired. And, they never took the time to build a business that would permit it in the first place.
The good news is that if you’re “cut out” for entrepreneurship, and you’re committed to the journey, getting crushed by your own business can be avoided.
All you have to do is understand the final principle in the 9Ps of Profit – Pattern.
Recognizing Patterns in Your Business
When you first start your business, you’re a jack of all trades; everything begins and ends with you. From billing to marketing, you are the point of contact and execution for everything that will happen in your business.
Typically, this isn’t a big deal when you first start out because you probably don’t have truckloads of clients beating down your door.
But as your business grows and your workload increases (especially in a service-based business), you will find it harder and harder to execute on the non-critical priorities of your business (like marketing and admin).
And, that is when you run the risk of crumbling.
So to prevent your business from caving in on itself you need to take notice of the patterns in your workflow from the very beginning.
You need to look for the things you do over and over again in a systematic way, and you need to record them.
The best way to do this is to log what you do every single day for 10 business days.
It’s kind of a pain to do, but it will prove to be one of the smartest things you do for your business early on.
Once you have a list of everything you do day-to-day (from taking phone calls, to writing emails, to offering consults, to drafting proposals, to purchasing inventory, bookkeeping, and more), look for the patterns in your workflow.
For example, perhaps all of your leads call into your office, and every time you get a lead you fill out a customer information sheet, provide the prospect with a quote based on that criteria, and then you enter them into your follow up database.
If you’ve recorded your daily work flow for 10 days, you’ll spot the places where you have naturally developed processes for doing certain things in your business, just like I’ve demonstrated in this example.
Now, just because a process exists doesn’t mean it’s good. A lot of times we are very inefficient when we first begin our businesses. We typically take more time to do things than we should, because we don’t document our processes and ask how we can make them better.
But, since you have a record of your workflow, you can look at your processes, ask how you can make the better, and develop systems.
Every business usually requires systems in the following categories:
- Customer Service
Your goal is to look at what you’re doing, how you are doing it, and how to make the process easier, more efficient and more effective.
Sometimes this means you may need to hire additional help, implement new technology, or rethink the way you do something all together.
Ultimately, your goal is to have a written set of instructions that clearly set forth what needs to happen for your business to run…without you.
Learning to Love and Implement Systems
The tendency at this point is to say, “Well, Marlee I’m not there yet. I’ll do this when I have more business and I really need systems.” Big mistake, my friend!
While systems are the only way you can build a business that isn’t entirely dependent on you, they are not the easiest things to work into your business.
Systems are a lot like relationships that you can’t live with or live without, so the sooner you make nice with them the better off you’ll be in your business.
When you introduce a formal system into your business, you’ll experience an adjustment period.
Whether it’s because of glitches in software, or employee training, or your discomfort with delegating, getting used to using a system will take some time (and it won’t be perfect).
This is why, if you wait too long to implement a system, doing so can be excruciatingly painful. You’ll have gotten so used to performing something one way that making a change will seem like more work than it’s worth.
What you have to accept is that you need the systems no matter what, so bite the bullet and put them in place as soon as you can.
Doing this before you have too much on your plate will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and headed for burnout. Take it from me – I’m speaking from experience.
Systems Will Save You, but They Won’t Make You Successful
While the 9th P of Profit – Pattern is essential so that you can build systems that will enable you to grow your business, systems won’t make you successful.
Remember our friend Carol Roth?
Well, at one point in her book, Carol says, “all of the systemizing in the world won’t help a business succeed if the business model doesn’t have scalability, leveragability, profitability, and remarkability.”
And once again, she’s right.
But that’s why I gave you this and the other 8 Ps of Profit, because it’s applying these 9Ps of profit with consistency that will give you a solid foundation for achieving the scalability, leveragability, profitability, and remarkability she’s talking about.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it, and if you missed any of the lessons in the series, you can click here to get them all.