Why your business needs systems

Brian Tracy has a good post on why systems are crucial for any business:

Until a business activity is systematized, it exists largely in the mind of the individual who knows how to do it. As a result, it cannot be duplicated or replicated. If the person who knows how to do the job is not there, the business can eventually grind to a halt.

Unfortunately, this is the position that most contractors find themselves in. Their business is entirely dependent upon them. This is fine if you don’t want to take a vacation, spend a day with the kids, or never get sick.

While Tracy points out numerous benefits to systems, one of the most significant is the ability to delegate. If you have systems, you can assign a task to an employee, and so long as the system is followed, the results are predictable.

With systems your business can operate without the need for you to micro-manage. And that is a good thing if you want to take a vacation, spend a day with the kids, or ever get sick.

Is the glass half full?

It is said that an optimist sees the glass as half full, while the pessimist sees the glass as half empty. There is truth in this adage.

The optimist looks on the bright side of things—he sees the potential and the opportunity. The pessimist looks at the negative side of things—he sees the obstacles and the reasons for failure. But the differences go beyond this.

Because he looks for opportunity, the optimist finds an abundance of opportunities. The pessimist also finds an abundance of what he looks for—excuses and failure. The optimist looks for ways to make things happen. The pessimist looks for ways to make them not happen.

The optimist sees the world much different than the pessimist. When he sees a half full glass, he relishes the enjoyment he had in the first half, and the enjoyment he will have in the second half. The pessimist moans that he only has half a glass. The optimist realizes he can also purchase another full glass—he recognized what he can get. The pessimist just sees what he doesn’t have.

It’s “easy” to be a pessimist. All you have to do is whine. But in the end it makes life a lot less enjoyable. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, because you see, you can change your thinking. And that is a pretty optimistic perspective.

What is the value of an idea?

What is the value of an idea?

Some might say it depends upon the idea. Some might say an idea such as the internal combustion engine, or powered flight, or personal computers is a valuable idea. Each has transformed the way we live. Each has made life much easier and more enjoyable.

I would argue that such ideas are worthless in and of themselves. Indeed, without action ideas have no power. Ideas without action are just idle thoughts, dreams, or fantasies. An idea derives its value from the actions that result.

Business involves an integration of ideas and actions. It requires sound business principles, innovative thinking, and long-term planning. It requires execution, performance, and effort. It requires activity—both mental and physical.

The goal of a business is to make a profit. Doing so requires good ideas and good implementation. Ideas without action are useless, and action without ideas is suicidal.

Each of us desires certain things from our small business. It may be more money, independence, or any of a number of things. Regardless of our individual desires, we must engage in certain actions if we wish to fulfill those desires.

Consistent results are a consequence of consistent actions. Consistent actions come from embracing and implementing sound ideas. Sound ideas, when implemented, create consistent results.

Rare is the business that consistently achieves the results it desires. Consequently, successful businesses constantly look for new (and better) ideas, or better ways of implementing old ideas (which are also new ideas).

(In this context, “new” means new to the business. A proven business principle is not new, but it may be new to the business.)

Successful businessmen constantly look for new ideas. Business is a dynamic affair, and if a business isn’t moving forward, it is moving backward. The implementation of new ideas is what drives businesses forward.

Businesses pay hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of dollars for new ideas. They do so because new ideas are an investment. New ideas, when properly implemented, can lead to great results. In other words, a successful business invests in new ideas because they can help it achieve the results it desires.

Certainly, there are bad ideas. There are ideas that, no matter how well implemented, can only lead to bad results. Curing a cold with a massive dose of arsenic is one example. And equally certain is the fact that good ideas will not guarantee the desired results. But implementing good ideas—such as sound business principles— stands a much greater chance of success than muddling along.

Most small businesess fail. More than 90% do so within 5 years. Most small business owners are competent technicians, and poor businessmen. Competent technicians think differently than competent businessmen.

A technician seeks to reinvent the wheel. A businessman seeks to learn how wheels are made, and then finds a better way. A technician repeats what he was taught. A businessman seeks to improve upon what he was taught. A technician does it that way, because “that’s how it’s done.” A businessman does it that way because it is better.

Are you happy with the state of your business? Is your business producing the results you desire?

If your answer is yes, then good for you. You are rare.

If your answer is no, then you need new ideas, and you need to implement new ideas.

If you wish to get new ideas, where do you intend to find them? How do you intend to implement them? How will you make the changes necessary to transform your business and produce the results you desire?

These are not hypothetical or rhetorical questions. These questions go to the very heart of what it means to own a successful business. Your answers will determine your future.

So, what is an idea worth? What would you pay for an idea that brought you less stress in your life? What would you pay for an idea that helped you move towards your goals? What would you pay for new ideas? Your answers will determine your future.

More importantly, your willingness to implement those answers will determine whether you move forward and achieve the results you desire, or become another small business statistic.

Update on a few things

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