Or sometimes it may seem that way, at least.
If you lean towards being a right-brained creative (and many entrepreneurs do!), you probably hate things like schedules, routines, or rules of any kind.
In fact, all that stuff they say about thinking outside the box?
Heck, you live outside the box.
But here’s the thing.
You still need systems (and habits and routines) to be successful.
Especially if you’re growing a business.
Systems are Freedom. Systems are Sanity.
Systems are your answer to Overwhelm.
Put simply, a system is a series of steps or components that work together to make things easier for you.
That’s a good thing.
And that happens because systems work in a predictable way that frees up your time to do what you love.
In fact, done right, they’ll make it possible for your business to practically run without you.
Of course – that may not sound so great right now, when your business is like a newborn and you can’t bear to leave her alone for more than a minute.
But that day will come when that will change. Just wait until you’re ready to book your first month-long trip to Europe. :)
So how do systems help?
FIRST, they plug the energy leaks that overwhelm brings.
Knowing how accounts get invoiced, new clients are enrolled, and supplies are replaced means you don’t have to start over again every time you get a new client or need more copy paper.
And that frees up energy for your genius work, like developing new programs or writing your book.
SECOND, systems prepare you for growth.
Most moms know the jump from child one to child two is a giant leap. Suddenly you’ve got two wriggling bodies to dress, two fussy mouths to feed, two backpacks or diaper bags to prepare while still getting yourself dressed and out the door.
It can make you feel crazy.
BUT – the jump from child two to child three isn’t so bad. And why is that?
Because baby #2 already forced you to get your systems in place.
And after that, it’s all a matter of scale. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re preparing lunches for two or three. You’ve already learned to keep extra peanut butter in the pantry.
The same thing happens with your business. Having a system in place for key aspects of how you do what you do, will help you scale that, too.
THIRD, they make money.
(This is the part we always forget.)
For one thing, you won’t waste as much time hunting down receipts for your accountant, or running to the store for more ink. You’ll save money just by being more efficient with purchases, processes and more.
Some of this comes with better customer service, which leads to a better experience for your peeps and a better reputation for you.
And that, of course, leads to more business – and more income.
But the best part?
Getting systems in place creates an easy, predictable, manageable way to do all the things you don’t love.
And that, of course, lets you do the money-making, life-enhancing, world-improving things you DO love, instead. :)
So what holds you back?
For one, women are used to handling just about everything ourselves. We can’t imagine how delegating a task or creating an automated process could possibly work.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see any other way of doing what we do. (In fact, figuring this out is one of the things my clients say they value the most about our work together.)
And sometimes, it just feels like more trouble than it’s worth to learn the new software, or train someone else to do what we need done.
This is what I think about that.
It’s easier to make up your four-year-old’s bed, too. You can do it yourself in 20 seconds flat.
But when she’s 16, you’ll wish you’d dealt with the hassle of teaching her how to do it herself.
Deal with the hassle of figuring this out now. It will make life easier later.
I learned the hard way.
When I first opened my practice, I handed the billing work over to a 3rd party service. That’s how everyone else in my industry did it, so I did too.
Over several years, I went through no less than seven different billing companies. All of them, eventually, fell apart – in ways that were disastrous, time consuming, energy sucking and expensive.
(The reasons were varied, but in their defense, behavioral-health billing is not for the faint of heart.)
So after company #7 got out of the business altogether, I gave up. I decided I’d handle it myself from then on. Surely I knew how, by now.
The problem was that I hated dealing with the accounting side of my business. I barely managed it on my best days.
On my worst days, I didn’t do it at all.
Because the truth is I would rather do just about anything you can think of than billing. Clean house. Take out the trash. Visit the dentist.
Twiddle my thumbs.
I tried hard, but it wasn’t working. Eventually, I had thousands of dollars drifting out there somewhere, waiting for me to get my act together so I could get paid.
The day came when I realized that my own systems, such as they were, weren’t working either.
So I hired a brilliant, meticulous, spread-sheet loving friend of mine to come in to the office and restore order.
And what did she do?
She cleaned up my systems and created better ones. She unclogged the pipes and got things working again. My cash flow improved, my clients were better served, and I got my life back.
Systems increased my cash flow, provided a job for my friend, and saved my sanity.
Isn’t it time you did the same for yourself?
P.S. : Speaking of systems, I also have a pretty specific system for how I find the photos to go with each blog post I write. Today’s photo (what I’m thinking of as order over chaos) is from Ebelien, a woman in the Netherlands who’s photography I’ve long followed on Flickr. I’m happy to say that she is also, now, a reader of this blog. Welcome, Ebelien! :)
Photo Credit: Ebelien on Flickr