As a real estate business owner, have you ever found yourself wondering where the freedom of having a business comes in? You left a 9-to-5 job only to realize that being your own boss means working non-stop, day and night. And what would happen if you got sick or took a week away from your business? If your brief absence could result in loss of income, upset clients, and chaos in the office, it’s time to introduce systems – because your business has become heavily reliant on your day-to-day involvement in order to run.
Author, investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Invictus Capital Anthony Vicino and I had a conversation about this topic in one of my podcast episodes. At that time, he’d started documenting processes and systemizing routine tasks to create efficiencies in his company. I’d like to share some of these to help you. Because no matter how productive and devoted you are to your business, you have your own limitations and can’t take sole responsibility for your company’s growth and success.
Click this link if you want to listen to the podcast interview.
What are business systems?
Let’s take a moment to define what business systems are. A system is a documented procedure or method of ‘doing’ a particular aspect of business. To break it down further, systems are composed of interdependent tasks that you need to perform in order to complete an operation and reach your objective. Essentially, they are operations manuals that contain the collective know-how of running a business.
Examples of systems are: marketing system, hiring system, employee management system, and financial system. Subsystems, on the other hand, may include the following under a marketing system: creating a platform, content creation, social media engagement, documenting and tracking leads, plus small details such as how the phone is answered or emails are responded – all playing big roles in the successful operation of your business.
Why do I need systems in my business?
With the right business systems, your company will run efficiently even without your day-to-day supervision. Anthony suggests to “begin with the end in mind.” So, think about your initial goal when you launched your business. Did you simply want to be self-employed or did you want the trifecta of freedom – money, time, and location?
Systems will allow you to overcome your own limitations by allowing tasks that you lack expertise in to be completed by other specialists. Systems let you run repetitive and time-consuming tasks on automation and free up your time to pursue bigger goals and expand your business. You will no longer be afraid when you get sick and can’t show up or take that week-long vacation with your family. Only if you are willing to relax your tight grip on your company and let your strong team run daily operations can scaling up your business be successful.
Systems also benefit your clients because a documented how-to process ensures that you deliver consistent results so clients know what to expect and you gain their loyalty.
Getting started with systems
Anthony took the following initial steps to build his company’s systems.
#1 Establish partnerships and a strong team
The success of your company relies heavily on the strength of the team you build. An ideal business partner or teammate is someone who complements your strengths and balances your weaknesses so that competency gaps are filled in. As your business grows, so will the roles that will be played by each member of your team and the workload that will need to be distributed.
“When my business partner and I met, it became very clear that we had a lot of synergy, a lot of complementary skills. He was good at things that I don’t enjoy so much, like spreadsheets and numbers and financial stuff whereas I’m a little bit better at things that he doesn’t enjoy. There was good synergy so we decided we can work together,” shares Anthony.
#2 Know Your and Your Team’s Superpowers
Knowing your strengths and understanding your weaknesses gives you a better grasp of how you best operate. Be aware of your team members’ characteristics and personalities as well, so you can encourage them in an avenue where they can actively contribute to the team and meet your objectives.
“That’s one of my superpowers, being able to look at a problem set and say, “What are the different directions we could attack this from?” That mental process is really helpful when you’re talking about businesses, and real estate in particular, because you’re going to have a lot of issues, a lot of problems that you can’t always solve in a straightforward manner. Being able to come at it creatively, whether trying to close a deal with a seller or solving problems tenants, we can bridge this gap so that we can meet on equal terms,” cites Anthony.
Anthony also advises that motivating your team to shift from a mindset of “I can’t do this” to a frame of mind of “How can I do this?” gives you a powerful tool for a creative and effective problem-solving approach.
#3 Document what you’re doing
Creating systems starts with documenting subsequent tasks that you must perform to complete one objective.
Anthony cites an example to highlight the importance of documenting procedures, “I start a podcast and I do all the editing. I do the posting, the advertising, pushing it out into the world. At some point, I realize it isn’t a good use of my time anymore. Now, I need to pass it on to somebody else. But then – I don’t actually know all that I do because I’ve never really thought about it and sat down and write them out. I have nothing to hand somebody else and say, “Here you go, follow these directions.”
The documented process (or operations manual) will be valuable to your employees, old and new, as mapping all tasks will make them easier to follow, remove confusion and frustration, and improve the quality of work delivered. It means you’ll not be in the lurch and unable to continue business operations when someone is out sick or leaves the company.
“By documenting and putting it down on paper, you could observe the whole thing from a bird’s-eye view. You start noticing inefficiencies which is very hard to do when you’re in the micro-moment of doing the thing. With a documented process, you start thinking of more efficient ways to do it,” adds Anthony.
#4 Identify tasks that can be delegated or outsourced
Rather than attempting to do all tasks by yourself, Anthony suggests delegating repetitive and routine duties to other team members or assistants. This frees up your time to focus on more crucial aspects of the business or devote more time to yourself, your family, or your loved ones.
“You could start systematizing small systems that can be delegated. It can be as simple as how you check your emails, how you respond to inquiries, how you flag messages, and how you intend to get back to clients. It doesn’t have to be a really big crazy system. Create a simple checklist and you’re ready to go,” suggests Anthony.
#5 Hiring Virtual Assistants (VAs) or Interns
“I think the hardest part is knowing when to hire,” says Anthony. He adds that many business owners struggle with the dilemma of whether to hire assistants or not, justifying against it with reasons such as, “I am not ready”, “I don’t have the cash flow”, “There really aren’t many tasks to do anyway” and “I can do it myself”.
This is where documenting and standardizing the business processes aid in decision-making. With the written outline of tasks, you’ll be able to make fair assessments of workload and the weight and magnitude of responsibilities that you will assign.
“I find it is better to hire sooner than later because when you hire sooner, you don’t know how much they can add to the process until they’re actually in the seat. And most of the time, you go, “Oh wow, that was worth it,” advises Anthony.
He adds in closing that communicating clear expectations and establishing accountability is key to the successful employment of any virtual assistants you may hire. “The more defined and narrow the tasks, the more a person can understand and execute it up to your expectations,” he says. “It might take a while until you find somebody that you really click with but once you do, they’re gold.”
It may seem overwhelming to implement systems in your business especially if you’ve become accustomed to personally running its daily operations. But keep in mind that the first step, small as it may be, is the only thing that you need to take now. And don’t forget, the businesses that win are the ones that use systems consistently.