In this podcast:
- 00:42 – Who’s Pete?
- 01:52 – Why would you do it?
- 04:02 – So many people forget: systems bring you ____ and ____
- 07:26 – What happens when systems are missing
- 08:30 – What is business systemisation after all?
- 13:11 – Take these 5 steps to create your business system
- 16:45 – The key for digital business systems
- 20:12 – The free platform Peter is using in his business
- 21:47 – Creating business systems using ready-made templates
- 25:24 – The amazing features of this free platform
- 29:23 – Peter makes you an offer
Fiona: Well, hello everybody it’s Fiona Soutter from Super Savvy Business and welcome back to the next episode of the Super Savvy Business Podcast. Today I have with me somebody who I admire greatly, a fellow entrepreneur, his name is Peter Moriarty.
00:42- Who’s Pete?
Now Peter started IT consulting at the age of 15 with a backpack and a pushbike in rural Sydney. And since then, he’s pursued his passion for technology in growing IT Genius into a full service-managed IT support consultancy servicing businesses up to 200 employees across Australia and beyond. Now he’s the resident Small Business Tech expert on Eagle Waves Small Business Radio, and was listed as an honourable mention in Anthill’s 2012 Top 30 Australian Entrepreneurs Under 30.
Now I’ve known Peter personally for just under a year and Peter was one of these people who’s on a crusade to realize his dream of helping as many people as he can embrace technology as a tool to improve their lives, rather than feeling like a slave to the tech machine.
And I know from what you’ll learn today, you’re going to walk away with some amazing tips and strategies that you can implement very, very easily into your business.
So first of all Peter, I just want to say welcome to the call and thank you for sharing your time with us.
Peter: Fiona, thank you very much for having me.
01:52 – Why would you systemise?
Fiona: Now, I’ve mentioned in the intro that you’ve come today to talk to us about business systemization and this is one of the areas that we really connected on when we’ve first met last year. Peter, do you wanna talk to us first of all about why is it so important for businesses to systemize?
Peter: Yeah, sure Fiona! Uhm, I guess the problem is with most businesses and most entrepreneurs is that they start working in the business … you know Michael Gerber wrote a lot about the journey of an entrepreneur and you know how the entrepreneur can move to being … move from being the person doing all of the work in the business to being the person who’s, you know, the true entrepreneurs, the creator of the business, and the designer of the business and, you know, having other people actually help do the ‘doing’ of the business in the everyday things …
So, you know when I started my business and my business journey I was lucky enough to read some of Michael Gerber’s work quite early on, and a couple of other books, you know, there’s Tim Ferriss, who wrote about “The 4-Hour Work Week” as well, and I was lucky enough to, I guess, have that vision of a business that was systemised, so I could actually free up my time. Uhm, and, you know, create more time and more space to myself to follow those entrepreneurial pursuits without feeling like I was doing the same thing day-in, day-out working in the business.
Fiona: And you know, that is one of the biggest mistakes that I think a lot of entrepreneurs make, you know as they do get stuck doing, you know, the groundhog sort of tasks. Wouldn’t you agree?
Peter: Oh, definitely, definitely! And you know, when I started I saw a lot of business owners. You know, I worked for a lot of business owners, and they just seemed to be, you know, stuck with their work, because they I guess … they didn’t, you know it wasn’t that they didn’t necessarily didn’t have the passion, but maybe they just didn’t have the know-how or the tools to actually, you know, create some systems and create a business that was gonna work for them. Because after all if you got the guts to start a business be sure to be able to reap the rewards of having it work for you otherwise you may as well just go get a job.
04:02 – So many people forget: Systems also bring you ___ and ___
Fiona: Yeah. And the other side I guess of systemising your business apart from the effect they phrase you up to focusing on the money making sort of tasks within your business is that it also adds an awful lot of value to to your business and makes it something you can actually sell, rather than something that is just sitting in your own head.
Peter: Yeah, that’s … look, that’s absolutely right. You know, having learnt a little bit about buying and selling businesses and where a business gets its intrinsic value, I’ve come to understand that when you’re selling a business, having something which is called key man risk, which means you know, the entrepreneurs is vital to the business, unfortunately dramatically reduces that potential selling price of the business, because they’re so dependent on the person running it.
You know, if you’re able to create a business that runs without you there, then you can come on to a much higher a selling price, if that is something that you consider doing in the future.
Fiona: Hmm. And I know it also in my experience, as my businesses are mainly built through the use of virtual staff and systemization has also allowed me to provide, to create a certain amount of security within my business because, you know, with virtual staff they can come and go, or perhaps they might be taking holidays or be unwell for a period of time and if the staff member within the business is the only one that knows how to execute certain processes and then that person is not there, then it can leave you in a very vulnerable position.
Peter: Haha! Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I remember in one of the businesses that I did work in when I was younger, when a new staff member, came on board there was actually a six week process for training that new person, where basically the business owner had to pay the two wages, so they could have an extra person there learning the ropes, but with their existing staff member who was on the way out, teaching that person, you know probably all their bad habits but, you know, how the business actually worked and I just thought it was, you know, just an absolute waste of time, really.
Uhm, and Michael Gerber has actually written quite a lot about this, if you have systems and checklists and I guess they really clearly define the way that things are done in a business it means that individual staff members actually don’t need to think too hard about doing their job everyday.
And it’s not to say that, you know, their people are stupid or anything like that, what it basically means is that somebody has nice clear easy process and procedure for doing their job, you can deliver much better to your clients because you’ll be delivering a consistent service, but it also means that your staff members know, you know, they caught the confidence to perform their job, because they know what the expected outcomes are.
They know what the basic processes are, and you know, everything gets nice and consistent, and you know, it gives those team members a little bit more certainty in what they’re doing each day.
Fiona: Yeah. Look, you know I’m just reflecting back on the 5 minutes we’ve been talking and we’ve come up with at least 4 or 5 reasons why business systemization is so important and you’ve picked up on something that was already going through my head and that’s just inconsistency of delivery.
07:26 – What happens when systems are missing
Fiona: When you have certain expectations, you have certain levels of quality that you want to assure, continue in your business, systemization is the best way to go about doing that and we can all learn of course just by looking at the big giants like McDonald’s for instance, where everything is systemized down to, you know, every little man or second of what goes on to that business, but they do that because of getting … because of that consistent approach.
Peter: Absolutely … absolutely. And you know what it equals is a better experience for your customers and I think that’s really positive. But also frees, you know frees the business owner or the entrepreneur to actually have a bit more time, and I think that’s what, that’s what people really want, I think that’s the entrepreneurial dream when you start a business. And it’s saddening to see, you know, people who are stuck in their businesses, who are unable to get out.
Fiona: Uhm. Now just a moment ago, Peter, you mentioned something about, you know, processes and having, you know, steps to follow. So, I’d like to touch on now, you know, what does business systemization actually mean?
08:30 – What is business systemisation after all?
And we’ve been throwing this word around and on the call so far, but some people might be thinking, well, what does it look like, how do we go about actually systemising our business? So could you maybe share…? I know you’ve got some great ways of doing this, and obviously I’ve followed lot of what you thought, to systemize my whole business. So let’s touch on that now.
Peter: Sure! Well to start off, I think, you need to get your philosophy in the right place. Uhm … and that’s, you know, I think that the two books that I learnt the most about systemisation from was “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss and then the “E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, which is the first book of the E-myth series by Michael Gerber. And that philosophy is, you know, like we’ve just discussed, if you can systemize your business you can create not only a consistent service but also start to free up your spare time as an entrepreneur to free it up from interruptions.
And what does systemization actually mean? And how do you actually achieve it in your business?
Michael Gerber has a most practical advice, and that’s things like creating checklists, procedure documents, and then I guess manuals on how to perform all of the certain duties in your business.
So let’s say we’ve got maybe a technician and they fix some computers, and you know, there’ll be a system in their process where actually, you know, fixing those computers and the way that you want it done in your business. Michael Gerber uses the example of a pie shop, somebody working in a pie shop and the checklists in the systems and processes there will have, you know, start from the basics like “Have you opened the shop in the morning?” and, you know, “Have you swept the floor every week and where is the broom stored?”
And then it goes right down to things like actually producing the product, so “What’s the recipe for the pies that you can be making?”, “How are they presented?”, “How long are they going in the oven for?”
And once you start actually writing all of these things down, that’s when you start to build the basic systems of your business and everyone one of those that you write is actually a system that you don’t have to train somebody by hand-on or explain to somebody by hand because you’re actually got the system written down.
Fiona: Hmm. So really, what we are doing is we are looking at our business and creating a process for anything that’s done more than once in your business, is that right?
Peter: Absolutely! Yeah, and anything that’s done more than once, and it’s really chunking right down. You know, it’s chunking right down to the nice simple bite-sized tasks that, you know, you start to perform. And, you know, especially the repetitive ones, because it means that while you might remember one way of doing things, it means that things are kept nicely and consistently. Especially if you wanna scale a business, you know maybe you want a franchise or maybe wanna open a second store, or something like that. You know, or… just grow a really big team. If you like to keep things consistent, then it’s best to have that system that keeps it under control.
Fiona: Yeah. And the other sort of thing that I have started putting into my business systemisation we’ve talked about recording processes but sometimes is just recording information that you might need to recall at some point, or people need to go back and retrieve. Yeah?
Peter: Oh yeah! Look, we’ve got a system and a process for everything, but as you alluded to yes, we’ve also got … uhm I guess just information documents for the business, so you know, we’ve got a place to store things, like “What are the company bank account details?”.
You know, everyone knows if somebody needs to send us a deposit – where are the details? You know, “Is there a copy of the certificate of incorporation of the company nice and readily handy?”, and you know, is the ABN stored somewhere nice and handy where everyone can find it.
That little things that, you know, you will only be asked this kind of questions by a new staff member that comes on board or someone who’s managing the office, you know, who’s new to the team. But if you got all those stored it an easy-to-find place yeah, then people have access to information they needed.
Fiona: Hmm … and one of the things that I’ve learnt from you last year was the system behind creating systems. Haha! And you know it’s really important to have that, I think to have a bit of continuity in the way; because I’ve actually now get my virtual staff members to create lot of the systems for the processes that they are responsible for. And it’s great, we’ve got a framework to actually base it all on.
13:11 – Take these 5 steps to create your business system
So, I’m wondering right now, would you be able to share, you know, just briefly what that framework is and how we go about, you know, creating these systems?
Peter: Yeah, sure! I’d be happy to, I’ll run it through nice and quickly. So this is the system for writing systems, which was coined by Jack Delosa who runs “The Entourage”, which is an educational organization for young entrepreneurs, and this is I guess the framework or the blueprint on creating systems to business and basically there’s 5 points that you need to have covered when you’re creating systems.
1. So number one is WHAT?
– “What is the result of the process?” and
– “What is the result of the job that needs to be performed?”
That’s really easy way for people to measure how well are jobs being done.
2. WHY? Is the second question to ask … so:
– “Why is it important that the person, you know, learning that job or doing that task actually does it?” You know, it’s important that it’s done on time or is it important because you know, somebody needs to rely on that process being done.
3. Point number 3, and question number 3 is: WHEN?
So “What are the trigger points that must alert you to the fact that the process needs to be followed?” So might be cleaning the office on a Friday afternoon or maybe checking the mail on a Monday morning.
4. Question number 4 is: WHO?
– So “Who’s the person who is actually responsible for ensuring that that job gets done?”
5. The final one is: HOW?
That’s when you finally get to the process of writing down what are all the steps to actually achieve this task. So, you know, if you think of a recipe, how long do you preheat the oven for? How much of whatever ingredients you put in and in what order do you mix them all together?
It’s also a good idea in the HOW section to have a checklist, so you can check that’s actually being implemented properly and then so you can create a video of the tasks being completed, you know, you can record it on your iPhone, it can be nice and simple, but it means you’ve got an accurate report and you can see, what, you know what a successful process being completed look like.
Fiona: Yeah, and you know for us now in Super Savvy Business a lot of our tasks obviously are based online so we complete them using a computer and we’ve been using Techsmith Snagit, which has a video capture, screen capture function which you can record, so as they’re actually going through and doing the process just, you know the second or third time, they’ve recorded and explained what they’re doing. And then we’ve got the system already done. So it’s super simple to be able to do those sorts of things, isn’t it?
Peter: Oh, hahaha, excellent! Yeah, look it does make it nice and easy we happen to use Snagit as well and, you know, some examples of what we’ve used that for: you know we’ve got, bookkeeper training, so we train our internal staff members on how we’d like the bookkeeping to be done and, you know, we can train people on to use our email software and, you know, anything that needs to be done on a computer, you can just hit the record button and you know, allow yourself to train your staff or have these things to be done.
Fiona: Yeah. You know, I’m wondering, Peter, if people are listening to this, saying, “Well this all sounds great, you are creating these videos and these checklists and that sounds like it could be digital to me”, so when a lot of people think of systems they are probably thinking of, you know, that leverage folders that sit on the shelf and often go out of date and dusty very quickly and no one ever refers to them.
Peter: Haha! Yeah.
16:45 – The key for digital business systems
Fiona: Uhm, but you and I, listening to you talking about digital systemization which could be like a completely new concept for people. So I think we probably better share with people how we go about creating these business systems in the digital world?
Peter: Yeah, sure! Well, look, that was an interesting journey for me Fiona, because when I started my business, I got a business coach and you know, one of the first things they told me was, you know, “You need to go and start creating some of these systems”, and what I did was what most people do … is I, you know, I started talking about the marks of word and I was saving them in the company folder or on our network drive, and you know, all of a sudden I started to realize that we have the same kind of problems that you have in a larger organization, in that the systems very quickly became out of date and they weren’t really organised in a very easy fashion and it wasn’t easy to search through them, they weren’t stored in, you know in smart folders, or anything like that, and like you know, If I recorded a video, I couldn’t embed the video in there or like that. So they kind of weren’t really used and so the systems and procedures weren’t really as effective as I would have liked them to be.
Fiona: So what was your solution to all of that, Peter?
Peter: Well, it was interesting, I was …oh I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the back-end of Wikipedia, but Wikipedia has actually been built and written by people, you know, publicly on the internet. You know, you can actually browse to any page and there’s a little “Edit” button, where you can sign in and edit that page, and that’s what I guess built, what’s now come to be known as a Wiki. And … uhm … and some corporates will call it an intranet and what an intranet or a Wiki is and how you can use one in business is:
– an intranet is a private website just for your company, just for all of your staff to use and that private website is only accessible by your employees, but anybody in your organization can actually collaborate on the information in there.
And so you might be saying, well you know, “What does it look like?”. You know, “What does it look like, what does this internal intranet website look like when you use one?. Uhm, and basically it’s pretty straightforward if you have ever used the WordPress blog, which I know, Fiona, you promote WordPress quite heavily …
Peter: You know, if you’ve ever used a WordPress blog, you can sort of browse around the pages and edit it yourself or you can post up, you know, posts in a blog kind of format. That’s what an intranet is, but instead of being public to the whole world it’s private just to your team in business.
And so, we started using that to organize all of our systems and processes on this internal website, so instead of putting them in Microsoft Word, we will create a page for each system or process and then we can organize them in a nice simple fashion and everyone can access them from inside our company and collaborate on them if the process needs to be improved.
Fiona: And this is where my inner-techno geek starts to get excited, Peter, because when I saw the platform you were using to do this – because you know I’ve been looking for quite some time to find a way to effectively store my systems and to make them accessible easily with my virtual staff members who work across the globe – we needed something that we could collaborate on, no matter which country or which time zone we are in and to ensure we always had the most up to date versions.
20:12 – The free platform that Peter is using for his business
So, can you just share with us now the platform that you have been working with and what you have actually done to make this platform even better?
Peter: Yeah, sure. Well, uhm, you know, we looked at multiple different solutions… ahm, when we were trying to find the right one. Uhm, you know, there are some out there like Microsoft SharePoint which some people may have heard of if they have worked in a corporate … however, that involves an expensive server being installed and new business premises, which wasn’t really something we were interested in doing. There are other programs out there, but, you know, nothing that we felt would really fit the bill for us.
Thankfully, we stumbled across Google Sites, which is made by Google, and that’s actually – it’s actually a free product! – which is really great; anyone with a gmail address can go to Sites.Google.com and that’s s-i-t-e-s and yea, you can basically sign up and create your own dynamic intranet website which all of your staff can use and, you know, you can share it with other people who have gmail addresses as well.
So that’s what we’ve been using for probably about 4 years now, which holds all of our systems and processes and procedures (of which we have got probably about 4 or 5 hundred by now) because we have been working on it for a few years and, uhm, yeah, so we use Google Sites for everything and uhm, you know, we’ve developed – I guess now – a really great, robust internal system for storing all of our systems in our business.
21:47 – Creating business systems using ready-made templates
Fiona: And the wonderful thing is too, that you have been very generous in sharing a lot of the templates for what you use in your own personal business – you have come up with templates and that is something that I was very keen to grab hold of when we first met. so can you talk about the IT Genius platform that you have available?
Peter: Yeah, sure! So, you know, obviously we do not want to sell it or push it too hard but for anyone who is wondering where to get started, you know, if maybe, they are… so they are signing to Google Sites and are going, “Okay, where now? Where do I start?”, you know, we created a template to help other business owners like us who want to get started in systemisation but they didn’t really know where to get started.
You know, it’s obviously taken us 4 years to get to where we are now and we’ve got some really great systems and processes and what we did is we put some of those example systems and processes together and we created a template which has that skeleton framework of an internal intranet to get businesses started on creating their own, so it;s got sections for Admin, Finance, HR, Delivery, Products, Strategy… you know, it helps people get started on Google Sites with a really easy template they can basically just walk in and start filling out their details and, you know, start creating systems for their own business, you know, with the guide at hand – you know, they are not starting from zero.
Fiona: … and that is absolute gold, Peter, because a lot of people – I guess – who have never done any business systemisation, to be able to leverage off the knowledge and expertise of somebody that has been doing it for all of these years …
You know, you are first of all cutting down the amount of time to get it right, you are reducing the amount of erasable, sort of trying to work it all out in your head, so for me, when I saw what you had, although I probably could have worked it all out it would have taken me a lot longer and it would have been a lot of brain power in trying to get it all together.
So the fact that I knew that I could just press the click of a button and have it delivered to me was just invaluable because I knew I was going to save so much time and energy. So..
Peter: Well, thanks very much for the compliment, Fiona, I mean that’s… you know, that’s what we are trying to do. The problem that I see – you know, we work with lots of small business owners at my company IT Genius and – what we see is a lot of these business owners are busy. They are busy and just working so hard in their businesses … you know, they just don’t have the time to educate themselves on anything new. And so the way we designed this was so really nice and easy for anyone to just walk in and – you know it’s basically giving you the keys and walk in and get started.
And ideally the business owner won’t even have to write any of the systems; ideally, the business owner will go ahead and actually delegate it to one of their staff members who is already performing the systems that they know to actually start writing those, and that’s where the collaborative power of Google Sites really comes out, because you know, of course it’s full permission to lock down certain areas, but we believe in keeping the intranet site as open as possible to empower your staff to actually write down the systems for you.
And so, hence we created the template and, you know, all those training videos in there and all that kind of stuff as well, just makes it nice and easy for business owners to get started.
25:24 – The amazing features of this platform
Fiona: And the other thing we haven’t mentioned, Peter, I guess is being a Google Product it integrates so beautifully into, you know, all the Google Apps that are available. So whether you want to insert spreadsheets, or forms or just documents of any sort, they are very easily integrated within the Google Site.
Peter: Yeah, that’s… absolutely! So, that’s obviously clear if you just go to Google Sites, you know, the integration is fantastic and that’s one of the reasons why we are using Google Sites as a platform and not any other platforms is because it is, you know, if you created something in Google Sites, you know, a document or a spreadsheet you can actually go ahead and really easily embed that straight into your Google Site. Some of them are more complex processes, that we might have a spreadsheet to track something with, we’ll actually create that in Google Drive and then just embed that into our Google Sites.
Fiona: Mmmm… that’s just so powerful. I mean really, there’s no restrictions on the sorts of things that you can do: embedding the videos, the forms, the spreadsheets, even Google Maps if you want to show where the post office is if people have to go to the post office or the bank… it’s just all there.
Peter: Absolutely! Look, the thing I like about it, Fiona, is that it really cuts down on the problem of running a business and having staff constantly ask you, “How do I do this? How do I do that? Where is this information?”
Once you documented something once and you start building up this treasure trove of information and systems on your business you can actually start directing your staff to the intranet site instead of, you know, answering the same kind of questions week-in and week-out.
And the wonderful thing is, you know, you are able to actually help your staff over time to actually use that as a resource of search before actually coming to you first in the future, which means that it’s just going to cut down on, you know, on the interruption time of an entrepreneur and what it also means is your staff will actually be, you know, they will have the best of interest in improving those systems and processes as well.
Obviously, we talked a little bit about selling your business at the start. If you want to sell your business, how great would it be to have all your systems and processes – you know, some of your intellectual property and as much information as you can on your business – have that all into one place that you can just give the keys to the new owner for, you know, for business owners that are looking to exit or to sell or to merge to somebody else at some stage in the future… there’s just so much value in having everything documented well.
Fiona: It is, and you mentioned again just before about your staff members being responsible for it and I was remembering one Monday when I logged into my Google Site and discovered this whole new section that my team have created without me even knowing. It was just all there!
Peter: Oh, wow!
Fiona: And I was just like, you know, this is just, this is really what it’s all about when your team are empowered to be able to create those systems, when they know that that’s their responsibility and for me, as business owner, to be able to see that my business is being added to like that with so much value without me having to even lift a finger is just phenomenal.
Peter: That’s really special and that means that you know the system is working and I guess it’s a testament to having good systems and processes in your business, being able to actually, you know, prove the overall culture of the business and the work of the people around you as well.
Fiona: Yep, definitely. Now, Peter, we have spoken a little bit about the wonderful product that you have as far as the templates from IT Genius with the Google Site and in the past with my insider community you have put together a really special offer, so would you be able to touch on that for our listeners?
29:23 – Peter makes you an offer
Peter: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Look, I think it is really important to know that anyone can get started on Google Sites for free and it’s really easy; as long as you’ve got a gmail address you can go to Sites.Google.com and get started from there. But you know, obviously, I think there are some people out there who are thinking, well, they don’t really have the time to start from scratch or they don’t want to work things out themselves, you know, maybe they like a little bit of video training to help out and get started.
We do sell a template for Google Sites which is our best practice template which helps people get started; and there’s some examples in there or systems and processes, there is a really great structure to get you started and there’s also the training videos as well. Normally, we sell that for $997 online, but we’ve done a very special discount for Super Savvy Business audience members and that’s actually $297.
So from $997 we’ve taken it down to $297 and to get your hands on that template or to just have a look at it there is a preview of the template up online. It’s actually at SystemiseNow.com – that’s ‘systemise’ with an ‘s’ because we’re in Australia… so SystemiseNow.com and the code when you go through the checkout is “SuperSavvy”. So after you sign in through PayPal you can actually punch in “SuperSavvy” and you get that message discount on our product.
Fiona: Wow, that is just so generous, Peter. Can I just confirm the code “SuperSavvy” – that’s with no spaces in between?
Peter: That’s correct. “SuperSavvy” with no spaces and the URL is SystemiseNow.com
Fiona: Fantastic! Okay, guys, I hope that you gained a lot of hints and tips about systemising your business and that you have a really clear understanding now of, you know, why it is so important to systemise your business.
Peter, thank you once again. Every time I speak on this topic I’m just amazed at the amount of knowledge and skill you have in this area and I would like to thank you yet again for giving us your time, I know that you are incredibly busy with building your empire through IT Genius. So thank you for being here and we’ll look forward to speaking to you again soon!
Peter: Fiona, always a pleasure, and I am more than happy to help out! Thank you very much.
Fiona: Alright, take care! Bye for now!