In my years of being an entrepreneur and small businessman, I have discovered – sometimes the hard way – some bedrock truths about growing and running a business. Today’s topic is one of those. It is not a secret formula nor magic sauce to make you rich, powerful, and successful. But it is an absolute necessity if you are going to stay in business.

Here is that bedrock truth: You must have systems in your business. Without systems, your business will plunge into chaos, people will start yelling at you (trust me on this) and you will soon wonder why you started this business in the first place. As an example, I like to use the example of the handyman. Once the handyman decides to grow his business, increase his customer base, and hire employees, he is no longer working as a handyman. He is working as a business owner. That is a crucial distinction that, if not realized, will spell trouble for your business.

In my example, the handyman who grows his business doesn’t stay in business by performing all the handyman tasks any longer. No, he’s grown right out of that. So, in order to run the business, he’s got to implement systems.

Before you implement any, give some thought to these considerations:

  1. Focus on things that increase your sales and profits.
  2. Spend time coming up with strategies that do things better, faster, and less expensively.
  3. Think about your competition. Find out what they do well and what they do not do so well.
  4. Deepen your understanding of your clients.
  5. Develop information products designed to establish your credibility and superiority in the marketplace.

Your vital systems will be unique to your business. Nevertheless, there are four vital systems every business must have.

The Four Vital Systems

The four vital systems every business must have are:

  1. Marketing
  2. Sales
  3. Fulfillment
  4. Administration

There is an adage that if you are not constantly either getting the business, doing the business, or managing what you get from doing the business, you will soon not be in business. Looking back at this list, you see that is exactly what these four systems do.

Let’s take a closer look at these four systems.

Marketing

      One of the chief aspects of your marketing system is that it must help you track its effectiveness. Use a system that gives you data on the results your efforts produced. Without this, you’re making an effort and spending dollars, but your results are chaotic. Your system must be able to deliver results for alternate marketing efforts, meaning that you have tested different strategies.

In marketing, the axiom says, “The list is gold.” Your marketing system must involve a large list of past and prospective clients, and you must grow that list daily.

Important: Whatever marketing system you use, make sure you can export your data BEFORE you commit to using any software! If you stop using that software, particularly if it is cloud-based or if your software is discontinued, years worth of data and contacts may be captive to that system and you’re out of luck.

Sales

      A sales system has these basic purposes: nurturing leads, follow-up, and conversion (closing the sale).

Fulfillment

      Fulfillment is the actual thing you do in exchange for your client’s money. Fulfillment is the delivery of products, goods, or services, including customer service. Not only must your fulfillment system be tailored to suit your specific kind of business, there is another aspect that many business owners forget to include: customer satisfaction. Make sure you include this or your hard effort might be in vain.

Administration

      Your administrative systems cover your accounting, employee processes, and any other business functions. I personally prefer QuickBooks for all accounting functions. There are many programs available for these functions, so look for good reviews and choose wisely.

A final word about systems. If your marketing and sales systems are not in place, you will have dwindling numbers of clients and customers. That means dwindling revenues and eventually, you’ll be out of business. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because accounting and employee records have filing deadlines that only those systems are important. You must have all four of the systems I’ve mentioned.