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WW#019: Success Through Systems

One of the most common enemies of business founders is inefficiency. It doesn’t matter what sector you work in, if you’re working from a place of chaos and trying to scale, without the right systems in place, you’ll fall at the first hurdle.

How do you define a system? Obviously, the world around us is one big system! But when I talk about ‘systems’ from a business perspective I mean examining, understanding and documenting how processes work inside your organisation, so you can start to refine them.

It’s a way of visualising what’s actually happening in your business. From a simple checklist to a more advanced app or platform, you need to understand what’s happening around you. Having a systems outlook and understanding the difference it makes can really revolutionise your organisation.

It’s only once you’ve properly understood how something is working that you can look at how to make improvements. Can something be delegated? Automated?

I’m a huge advocate for systems. When I exited my environmental consultancy back in 2016 there was team of about 40 people and the business had roughly a £12m turnover. 5 years later and there are still about 40 people in the team, but turnover has doubled, however there are only 8 of the same people working there.

It really demonstrates the power of having good systems in place: people can come and go without any drop in output or productivity, because someone new can be slotted in without having to start from scratch in terms of specialised training or a learning curve. Having the right systems in place means the business isn’t dependant on specific people.

But how do you know when you need to put a new system in place? As I said before, inefficiency is the common enemy of most companies and is often the catalyst for change. What isn’t working in your business?

That’s a question you can’t answer by yourself. You have to bring people with you on the journey when you’re implementing a new system. Your team needs to know why you are doing it and what outcome you’re trying to achieve: when people don’t feel that they’re part of that journey or that they’ve had a chance to offer their own input, it creates a friction you need to be able to mitigate.

If this sounds like a familiar challenge, watch this month’s WiserWednesday panel event, “Founder Success Through Systems”. We took a deep dive on how systems and systemisation can create transformation and positive momentum for you and your team.

It was a fantastic debate on Systems & why Founders are more likely to succeed with a systems mindset. Speakers are – Kelly Goss (Founder at Solvaa), Hugo Cox (Founder at 5HC Systems), Zain Daniyal (Founder ML Sense) and Vinay Patankar (Founder at Process Street – San Francisco based, raised $20m), and as always I’ll be your host! Enjoy!

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James Potten


On a mission to democratise entrepreneurship by providing access to best practice, helping startups sustainably scale up.