When I start talking about systems and operations people’s eyes tend to glaze over. I get it – Standard Operating Procedures or SOP’s, tech stacks and process maps aren’t sexy (at least to most people), but here’s why I put such a huge emphasis on focusing as much time on your operations as you do on your marketing, on your sales tactics and on everything else in your business.
Operations truly are the backbone of your business and having your operation and your systems in alignment will significantly ease your business’s growing pains. In this article, I’m going to talk to you about how I define holistic systems and how, to me, systems are not just onboarding clients and implementing a tech application, but a way to increase your businesses alignment with who you are as a CEO.
Why systems are important
Systems are so important in your business because they are like quality control. Systems increase consistency, not just in how you do something internally, but also how others perceive your business. As you continue to grow and serve clients, you want each client to have a consistently good experience with your brand. For that to happen, you need to have your business systematized so you can recreate results.
Systems also make it really easy to be able to grow & scale. If you have your business systematized you are then able to delegate. One of the biggest pitfalls I see with growing agency owners is that they’re still running their businesses as if they’re solopreneurs. Their entire business is running in their head meanwhile they have a team that is trying to support them, but are not mind readers. There’s no systematized way for processes to expand to include the new team, causing bottlenecks, communication issues, and general frustration all around.
What are Holistic Systems?
Definition of systems
Systems are just a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnected network. A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done in an organized framework.
I like to give the process of making a cup of coffee in the morning as an example of what a system is. It is a systematized way that I make coffee every single morning. I follow the same steps every morning so that my coffee is consistent. That is my system.
Is tech a system?
“Is tech a system?” Is one of the most asked questions I get. People love to tell me “I have ClickUp or Dubsado, so my systems are set!” No. Tech is not a system. Tech is like a car – Tech is a tool to get you from one place to another. Tech is a singular piece that is incorporated into your systems.
Like a car, tech cannot do anything, if it’s not given direction. So if you have a car, but you don’t know where to go, the car is just going to sit in your driveway looking pretty. If you have Dubsado, ClickUp, or any other tech application but don’t know how to organize the app and structure it in a way that’s ACTUALLY going to support your business, then It’s just a piece of software taking up space and charging you a subscription fee every single month.
What are Holistic Systems?
“Holistic” is characterized by a comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected, and explicable only by reference to the whole.
What does that mean? A system is an interconnected network. Holistic systems in the business refer to approaches that consider all aspects of the organization and how they interact with each other. This includes not just traditional business areas such as finance, operations, and marketing, but also the culture and values of the company, the well-being and development of employees/ contractors, and the impact on your clients and community. When looking at your business systems you should always ensure whatever tech that you’re integrating will be supporting the overall mission of your business.
Once you have a holistic system that is actually tailored to you and your business, said system will help to carry your business when life decides to live. Implementing holistic systems will help a business operate more efficiently and effectively, while also taking into account the needs and well-being of all stakeholders. This will lead to increased profitability and long-term success.
Why the differentiation?
I think we’ve all experienced that moment where tech feels clunky. Where it feels like things feel like they take 3X longer using the prescribed process or tech. This is usually because the tech was integrated in a silo, without the understanding of how the team or company actually operated. They will feel OFF because they are not fundamentally integrated with how you function as a human being. This is why I say that systems are not tech – regardless of the tech your systems need to be able to support your vision for your business, and tech alone cannot do that.
Why Holistic Systems?
Having a real life support system in place can make a world of difference in terms of reducing stress and improving overall well-being. The same is true for holistic systems in a business setting. When you have systems that are integrated with your business and support your work, it can improve your mental health, reduce anxiety, and give you more space to focus on the important things in your life.
Having holistic systems means that things operate smoothly, with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. It allows for delegation and empowers team members to own their work and know when to seek assistance. Overall, holistic systems can improve the mental health and well-being of both the business owner and the team, while also supporting the overall success of the organization.
How do we create Holistic Systems?
Looking at systems holistically
We start creating holistic systems, by looking at what you currently use. To create holistic systems in your business, it’s important to start by examining the systems you currently have in place and evaluating whether they are integrated with your personality and business. It’s also important to consider the impact of these systems on you as a CEO and on your team.
First, let’s look at what you’re currently using. Let’s start off with a quick and dirty tech audit. These are some of the questions I like to ask my clients when we begin the auditing process:
- Why am I subscribed to this piece of technology?
- What do I use it for?
- Is there another piece of technology that does the same thing?
- Do you LIKE the tool you’re using? (you have no idea how many people continue to use a piece of tech, even though they dislike it, only because they don’t want to go through the effort of swapping it out.)
After a tech audit, the next big hurdle is to begin auditing your processes. This part can be daunting, but start small and slow. Begin outlining the steps for each of your processes, one at a time. Here are some things to think about as you’re outlining the processes:
- If they’re client facing:
- Does this process support your clients?
- Is it providing the client experience you want to give your clients?
- Is there a way to communicate with more clarity to help meet or exceed expectations?
- If they’re internal:
- Does this process support your team?
- Is there a way to reduce the amount of time a process takes?
- Is there a way to automate parts of your process?
- Is there a way to communicate with more clarity to help mitigate confusion?
What does this mean for you as a CEO?
Having systems outlined in this way means you have the ability to delegate appropriately. Once you outline your processes in this way, you can easily delegate tasks and entire processes off to your team or to tech! Holistic Systems also mean you have systems that support your brain, prioritize work for you, and give you visibility over your business.
You now have clarity over what is going on in your business, versus feeling like everything is just a jumbled mess in your head.
What this means for your team
Having Holistic systems means that things operate smoothly, with the understanding of you and your team. It means you are no longer the team Google. The team has the information and clarity they need to accomplish their work. Having clear processes also gives the team the autonomy to make appropriate decisions. This means that your team is empowered to OWN their piece of work and they know when to come to you for assistance.
EVERYONE deserves to have systems that support their brains and businesses. Everyone deserves to rely on something to help support their efforts and work. When you’re looking to holistically implement systems into your business, you’re looking to create a foundation that will carry your business to the next level, whatever that means for you.
For more guidance on conducting your own business audit – grab my Business Ops guide
Ariana Rodriguez- I am a systems strategist that helps BIPOC women who are creative entrepreneurs find ease in their businesses via automations and tech solutions.
Being a parent of 2 rambunctious toddlers, while working full-time naturally led me to discover my skills of finding efficiencies in systems. For years I was also a tech project manager in a large hospital organization, and realized my superpower was able to translate operational needs into streamlined tech solutions.
I am able to come in, audit their back ends, and offer strategic solutions to allow them to clear up their headspace. to help them build systems, implement tech so they can scale their businesses with lean teams and without burning out. I help them find E.A.S.E.,
Elevate your client experience
create Automations that alleviate burdens
build Systems that create Space
to increase Energy so the can focus on the things they love