Welcome to chaos! Entrepreneurship breeds it. The chaos is caused for one simple reason alone. The entrepreneur doesn’t know what he’s doing, at least not yet. When I started LMS Internet back in 2008, the truth is, I had no idea what I was doing. Even though I was generating revenues and a profit, there was huge chaos. I didn’t know how to track developers, communicate with clients effectively, or manage projects. In those brief moments that our new born baby was sleeping, Sarah would try to help me. The problem was that she didn’t know how to help because I didn’t know what I was doing. In today’s post, I’ll share about systems and how entrepreneurs can conquer the chaos.
Accept It – You’ve Got Issues
Every business has issues. The issues are the things in the business that need to be improved so it can run more efficiently. In 2008, I had issues everywhere. There were issues with reporting, invoicing, accepting payments, and dozens of other things that pushed us into chaos. I knew that we had major problems with our operations. After our first three months in business, these glaring issues were slapping me in the face. We were going to lose clients if I didn’t find a way to fix them.
It was a tough time for us back then. I didn’t have much time to work on systems because I was constantly trying to smooth out the bumps and ramp up the business. However, I realized that if we were going to have success, we’d have to iron out our systems. Sitting down one quiet afternoon in May, I wrote down all the things that didn’t work well with my business. Two pages later, I realized that it was going to take a while to figure out the solutions to all of these problems. For the next year, I worked extra hard to balance clients and implement hundreds of smaller systems into the business. Looking back at how dysfunctional my business was when I started, I have to say it was a miracle that I landed clients.
The Clarity That Built our Revenues
By mid 2009, things had greatly improved. I had systems in place that made the business run easier. Sarah and my virtual developers could now be a great help to the business. Clients were happy with our communication, reporting, and work that we did. On-boarding new clients became much easier. While LMS wasn’t perfect, we had doubled our revenues and things were rolling along just fine. I can remember having a conversation with a really smart marketing guy who seemed to know everything about everything. There was no doubt that this guy knew five times as much as I did, yet he was working twice as many hours and was bringing in 1/3 of our revenues.
Multiplying Your Efforts Through Systems
The systems I built created predictability. I had a way to run my company. I had a way to get clients. I had a way to get projects done. I had a way to answer the phone, reply to emails, schedule meetings, and hundreds of other small things that were confusing to me and my clients when I started. My clients knew my systems and my developers followed the systems. I spent less time explaining what to do and holding clients’ hands because I created a system to walk them through the process. Although it was just me and Sarah, the systems multiplied our efforts and time. We could make more money and do it all in less time. The light bulb finally went on in my head. Systems! The secret to growing the revenues and working less was the systems I had set up during the previous 12 months.
Killing Growth’s Chaos
After enjoying many years of success, we made some big changes in 2012. We dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into innovation and internal improvements. The goal for this push was to give our business and the consultants I train an unfair advantage over other marketing companies. We wanted to not only be the best, but we wanted our consultants to have the best training and tools available. After our innovation, our business and consultants could realistically help any business in the world with their marketing needs. While it sounds like a glorious triumph, this type of innovation adds a major stumbling block… Yes, I’m talking about chaos! Let me explain.
Just because we have the ability and tools available to compete with anyone, doesn’t mean that I should offer EVERY service for every client I meet. Think about it like this. You call in a guy to remodel your bathroom. He has a great reputation and you’re excited to meet him. However, the first day he arrives, he stops on your front step and spends 30 minutes talking about how he’d like to fix your landscaping. After that, he’ll move on to your kitchen. Finally, he says he’ll get to your bathroom in about two months. Two things will happen in this situation. First of all, you’d be frustrated because you really just want your bathroom fixed. Secondly, this guy won’t make as much money because he’s stretched too thin by doing landscaping, kitchens, bathrooms all by himself.
Focus & Enforcing the System
Looking back, I’m really proud of the years of innovation that has made us the leader in our industry. I’m also really proud that we have the ability to offer so much for our clients and consultants. However, there is something I want to do for all of the consultants we’ll be training in the future. I have to show them how to focus and then scale the business. Starting in May, we’re going to focus on scaling up our marketing client revenues. Even though we already have some great clients, we’re going to focus and enforce a predictable system, just like I did back in 2008 when I started this journey.
Even though we could easily help every marketing prospect, we won’t be doing that. Nope, we’ll say NO to some prospects who aren’t a good fit. Why? So we can say YES to the right clients, streamline the services, and scale the marketing business. Just like in 2008, we’ll be able to make more, in less time, with less work. Obviously, I’ll have to act like a bulldog and protect the system. This means being tough on clients who can’t or won’t follow the system. I’ll be sharing our progress in the coming months, but based upon my history and what I’ve trained others to do, I’m confident we’ll hit our goals.