It’s difficult to thrive when you feel inefficient and overwhelmed. That’s where systems come in. But what does a system in business look like? How can it help you grow and scale your business?
In this episode, we’re going behind the scenes of my business. My right-hand operations superstar Esther Littlefield shares what systems we have in place, what steps make up those systems, and how systems can fail.
If you consistently perform the same tasks over and over, it’s time to get those tasks into a system. Let’s get started in systemizing your business so you can grow your business and increase your profits.
Esther’s Role within The Ops Authority Business
Esther and I have worked together for several years, and she manages and implements many things in my business. She leads Morningstar Media Services, a business that focuses on launching and maintaining podcasts. However, she started as my VA. Esther is my person and is truly an extension of me.
“When you’re ready to have a true partner in business, they will feel like family.”
All About Systems
What a System Is
A system is a group of things that are all working together to accomplish one particular outcome. A system involves multiple people, steps, and processes to get one objective accomplished.
We’re not talking about tech tools here; we’re talking about step-by-step workflows, procedures, and processes.
“A “system” in business has multiple steps, multiple people, multiple deadlines that come together to create the final outcome.” – Natalie Gingrich
Why You Need Business Systems In Order to Scale
Your business started with a passion, and you were likely doing everything. Over time, you may start to feel tired, and you need systems for the repeatable tasks in your business. This also allows you to start delegating some of your processes and focusing on what you do best.
“When you start to see repeatable tasks in your business, that’s the perfect time to start putting systems in place.” – Natalie Gingrich
Systems allow you to step out of the day-to-day operations and into a leadership role, where you can pursue your vision.
Why CEOs Delay Creating Systems
The big drawback is that creating systems takes extra time on the front end. You also may think, “No one can take this over. I’ll always do this thing.” So you don’t create a system.
CEOs also fear outsourcing. Handing tasks over to someone else takes trust.
Behind the Scenes of The Ops Authority’s Systems
Esther and I chat about the systems that we have within my business. Here are some of the things we have systems for inside The Ops Authority:
- Content (blog, podcast, social media, sending weekly emails)
- Lead generation
- Growing my email list
- Launch Plans
If your business has an online presence, your business is dependent on content and marketing. Help yourself by creating a system about the way you deliver content.
One of Our Systems: Blog Posts
- I have a writer, Abby from Write Solutions, who writes my blog posts.
- She gathers information, writes the content, then attaches the written blog post to our Trello card.
- Esther creates + uploads.
- Esther’s team creates the graphics and also uploads, formats, and schedules the post in WordPress.
- Esther’s team schedules the social media posts.
- Abby writes the corresponding email about the blog post and gets that content to Esther, who distributes it to my email list.
This process seems like a few short steps, but it takes up considerable time.
We use Trello, which tracks the entire workflow for every blog post. The blogpost card has a checklist for every phase. We also use Voxer to ask and answer questions and to communicate changes.
Remember that we can create systems, but sometimes people run late or miss a deadline. It’s very important to have a good project manager who you know and trust who can keep the system moving.
Weaknesses in the Process
If one early step falls behind, the rest of the process is at risk for missing the pre-established deadlines. People also go on vacation or get sick. One person missing out on their work can cause a breakdown in the plan. The solution? Work ahead by batching the work you do.
Next, we talk about another system that we have in place inside The Ops Authority: this podcast! Esther’s team manages this process, so she shares
Esther’s Podcast Production System
This is a high-level overview of the 7-8 phases of a podcast production process. This example is for someone who wants to make podcasting their primary content marketing arm of their business.
- Create audio (scheduled, prepped, recorded, edited)
- Write copy (show notes, blog post or summary, social media)
- Create graphics
- Upload recording to the podcast host (example: Libsyn)
- Upload recording to WordPress
- Schedule and promote social media content
- Follow-up with guests (if you have an interview show)
- Optional: If you have an interview show, you may need an admin to handle a lot of the scheduling pre-interview and to deal with the communication with the guests.
Each of these phases in the system have multiple steps within them. Most of Esther’s podcasts that she manages have 60-70 items on the Trello checklist for each episode.
How to Create Your System if You Don’t Have a Team
Not everyone has a team, but you can still create a system for the repeatable processes in your business. Spend time writing down what you want your systems to look like.
“For any process in your business, it’s important to take the time to sit down and document the process as you would like it to take place.” – Esther Littlefield
Also, you can grab this free podcast workflow checklist Esther created for you if you need help getting your podcast process organized.
“The theme for creating a system is that it’s repeatable and you’re going to outsource pieces of it.” – Natalie Gingrich
Start with a checklist of what is involved, and then save up so you can have people support you.
You can do hard things, but doing repeatable tasks prevents you from leading your business and reaching your vision.
Esther reminded us that if you don’t have someone to manage a process for you, you are the manager of that process. Keep in mind that you need to set aside time to manage whatever systems you have in place.
Another System: Launch Plans
I have two programs I launch: A-Team Accelerator and the Director of Operations Certification Program. Instead of re-inventing the wheel every time, Esther and I have a repeatable launch plan process.
Esther sets up a Trello board outlining what is included in each launch. Then she makes a copy of that board for future launches. After a launch, Esther and I reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Esther has the Trello boards organized by what tasks must happen four weeks out, three weeks out, etc.
“We can dream of a complete book of SOPs but start with the tasks you repetitively do in your business and the processes that have multiple hands in them.” – Natalie Gingrich
Are You Ready to Scale Your Business?
Join the waitlist for the A-Team program, which is perfect for female entrepreneurs who are ready to work with more ease and get systems in place in their own businesses.
Weekly Ops Activity
Take a content process and make an itemized system. Bonus points if you put your new system into your favorite project management tool.
Previous Episodes Mentioned
Episode 7: Behind the Scenes with Boss Mom with Dana Malstaff and Amy Lockrin
Episode 8: Three Productivity Hacks You Haven’t Thought Of
Episode 9: How to Find the Right Project Management Tool with Cadri Cunningham
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Connect with Esther Littlefield
Esther Littlefield is the founder and CEO of Morningstar Media Services. At Morningstar Media, she serves business owners with their content management and marketing, specializing in podcast management. In addition, Esther is also a writer at EstherLittlefield.com and host of the Christian Woman Leadership Podcast.
Never satisfied to do just ONE thing, she stays busy as a wife, mom, and entrepreneur. Esther uses her passion for details to help her clients reach their goals and shine online.
Esther combines her background as a social worker, network marketer, and blogger to help others achieve their goals in their business. As a task-oriented perfectionist, she’s able to break down all the little details to accomplish a project. Most importantly, her desire is to help others achieve their dreams, and she will work hard to help make that happen.