Having clearly defined processes and structure is exactly what has given MagnetMonster what it needs to grow, expand, and retain (or rather constantly improve) with confidence the results we deliver to our customers. We’re not guessing about what we can, or cannot do, or how it might happen. We’re not worried about underdelivering, or under achieving. We’re also very confident in our ability to achieve our internal business goals, which like our internal processes, are planned out in advance. Has it always been this way? ...
The importance of structure in a business, and the tools for management and scheduling.
Many years ago, I recall reading a fantastic book by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson named the One Minute Manager. For me, this book, when I was starting out in business in my impressionable years without a mentor, was just straight forward, no nonsense, common sense. The big lesson I picked up early on, was that as a business owner it was imperative to position yourself where you can work on your business, rather than working in your business each day.
Jumping forward I found myself one day in Waterstones book shop, and a book titled The 4 Hour Body caught my attention. I was quite obsessed with health and fitness and working out, so on impulse, I just bought the book and digested it within about 2 days. As many people will know, this is by a fascinating chap named Tim Ferriss and to my delight much of the book applied to lifestyle and business as much as fitness and the body. I had to get more, so I quickly absorbed the famed 4 Hour Work Week.
NLP and The Language Of Success
Now, early on in my life, I’d made the connection that getting in great physical shape came as a second level effect, from being in great mental & emotional health. So, as much as I was obsessed about weight training and fitness, I also became obsessed with hypnosis, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and the very structure of language. I learned very quickly that how we communicate with ourselves and with others, the precision or sloppiness of our communication, our communication style and preferences were formulaic. By changing the formula, the structure, the inputs, meant you could get a different outcome, or result.
This passion for learning about the human mind, communication and health & fitness is what allowed me to gravitate to setting up businesses involved in sports nutrition, at a time when the internet was this new concept, and a massively developing field. We worked on dialup modems back then, and our portal into the online world was essentially Internet Explorer and AOL.
New technologies and this whole new way of doing business was thrilling, it was new, and entirely untapped potential. It became very exciting to apply what I loved - health, fitness and human communication, into this new dimension. This portal to the invisible realm of the world wide web, is what led me into many years of focussing on sales and marketing; applying my knowledge from my personal interests, into very early online e-commerce and digital transactions.
The Internet of Things And Our Unconscious Behaviours
Of course, as the years progressed, the internet evolved. The world wide web became less of a place people occasionally dipped their interest into, and has grown to engulf us; coexisting side by side with our physical reality. We now live as much, or more, in this digital dimension sometimes, than we do in our physical world. Maybe even more so through the COVID-19 situation of the past couple of years, people are overall very much immersed in the internet.
Now, everything we do in life, from brushing our teeth, driving our cars, cooking dinner, running a business, developing a new software application is all entirely possible by our automated systems that we have built internally. Whether we are conscious of it, or not, we have these programs running inside our minds 24/7 that allow us to navigate and function in the world. Some of our mental programs are more beneficial to us than other programs. Some help us progress in the world, while some negative processes & systems very much hinder us.
In business, we have a parallel example. For those brave, entrepreneurial souls out there who have decided to embark on a turbulent life and roller coaster journey of becoming a business owner, need to understand that everything within their business is based on systems. And by and large, it is the systems, the robustness and quality of those systems, that will determine success. Your systems may be unknown to you, they may be chaotic, they may be disruptive - but whether you’re cognizant of that or not is irrelevant, as those systems are at play regardless.
Now, the more people, the more unique humans, that you introduce into a business, the more you introduce these waves of chaos into the machine. People in a business, without defined structures or systems, will bring with them their own subconscious processes, systems and formulas which may conflict or contradict the purpose of the business or the desired outcome from the team. The less focussed or directed the framework and structure is for the people working in the business, the harder it will be to achieve an efficient result.
Build The System, and Stick To It
Therefore, as a business and a business owner, one of the most critical things to devote your limited time and energy into is building effective, robust, measurable and evolving processes. If you do one thing for your business, it should be to build the framework of structure based on an understanding of all of the inputs, all of the actions, and thus all of the outputs your business produces.
Remember, you’ll hardly ever hit perfection the first time, and everything you do in business is an evolution - a work in progress. Better to keep in mind the 70:30 rule, and having some systems and processes in place is better than none (as behind the scenes, your chaotic processes are already running wild whether you’re conscious of them or not).
If you want to achieve specific, repeatable, measurable results, whilst retaining staff and offering them a rewarding experience working within your business, then you’re going to need to keep working on your systems and processes. When you have robust working processes, you can dynamically update, improve and tweak your process to perfection. It is far easier to build, maintain and improve processes, than it is to try to re-engineer lots of people on your team in a seemingly endless display of chaotic mess. If you constantly have different inputs, outputs and actionable events flying around in random ways in a seemingly inconsistent fashion, then you’ll constantly feel like you’re swimming against the tide, and potentially drowning.
Over the years, as fortune has it, by benefit of the nature of our agency I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of business owners across the globe - from one man start-ups, to corporate organisations in the nuclear sector. Now, it’s been a repeatable and obvious sign, that the businesses who we have worked with that have been the most successful and sustained, are those that emphasised their internal working processes. They’ve also been the easiest to work with. And it’s been truly eye opening to see the variations in management style, culture, ethics and the plethora of different systems at play - but ultimately, the unifying factor separating out the winners from the losers has always been the quality and consistency of their internal systems. Occasionally we have worked with a few businesses that seem to be founded on chaos, caught up in a whirlwind of never ending panic and confusion, and pretty much spinning their wheels. These have been the hardest clients to work with, and sadly, many of them are no longer trading - so they didn’t stand the test of time.
Time To Work On Your Business and Not In Your Business
So, if as a business owner, you’re too wrapped up every day in administering deliverables, and working in your business, unable to free yourself and your vital commodity of time, with a view to work on your business - then your prospects of success are rapidly diminished and more often than not, left purely to chance. Similarly, the experience of your team within your organisation will be one of criticism from lack of consistency and seemingly unaligned or incongruent messages bouncing around. Disgruntled staff can lose respect quickly and become further disruptive, disillusioned, or simply leave for better opportunities elsewhere.
Here at MagnetMonster, one of our largest overheads is our software tools, and our project management team. This is a proactive choice, and a sane one. We’ve invested a lot of time, effort, resources and money into this aspect of our business. We treat MagnetMonster like a living entity - a creature, or rather, a machine. Our monstrous machine has systems, processes running, like in our bodies we have a constantly pumping heart, a digestive system assimilating nutrients from food, and things like an immune system defending all these running systems. They’re working constantly 24/7 to keep everything in check and functioning. Your business, likewise, is similar - a never stopping, endlessly functioning machine monster. Here you have operatives outside of this beast, your team, who are constantly throwing inputs into the machine, which go through certain actions, have things done and operated on, to eventually kick out an output - or a deliverable.
Now, say your operatives were all doing random things, off their own initiative in a chaotic and inconsistent manner, sometimes successfully, often failing. And you increase the number of operatives, all without a clue on what works or doesn’t work, then your machine is going to suffer - and maybe even break, and at some point you might feel tempted to point the finger of blame at a person or persons on the team for breaking your machine. This is dangerous territory for any business, as nobody has true security, not even the business.
Conversely, if you have spent time creating very clear systems, processes and tools to administer those processes, then more often than not, everything goes according to plan. The inputs go in, the transactions/operations are performed, and the intended deliverable is spat out as the output. All as intended.
Evolving The Machine
If something goes wrong, as sometimes it does, then it is possible to point the blame at the process, to find out where in the system things went wrong. You can analyse that, you can fix it and you can improve it. Everyone then confirms they understand the amendment to the process and it’s back to business as normal in a healthy functioning manner.
It is with this smooth operating process that allows a business to further improve their outputs by analysing these systems & processes irrespective of the individual operators, taking the human element out of the equation for the time being, and illicting ways to enhance the functionality of the machine with automation and streamlining. You cannot automate or streamline chaos, you just end up with more mess. However, if you have a measurable, repeatable, specific process - you can then extract elements that are manual labour intensive and find ways to automate them, and you can work on removing redundancy to streamline your processes.
Ultimately, this leads to greater efficiency, higher productivity, improved moral, consistency and in nearly all cases that results in greater profits, and often for everyone involved. That includes the clients or customers you have when they purchase your products or services. If you’re profitable, stable and you have a repeatable, streamlined business the next step is to scale. And you can scale with much more confidence than if you were surviving in chaos. In nearly every instance as well, you’ll have data and metrics that’ll give you insights and feedback to make far superior decisions to scale even more successfully.
This is why it is of paramount importance, even for those one man entrepreneurs working solo, to have a clear focus and understanding of their internal working processes. By eliminating chaos and chance, replacing it with structure and a framework, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the general pitfalls that affect so many business casualties.
Having clearly defined processes and structure is exactly what has given MagnetMonster what it needs to grow, expand, and retain (or rather constantly improve) with confidence the results we deliver to our customers. We’re not guessing about what we can, or cannot do, or how it might happen. We’re not worried about underdelivering, or under achieving. We’re also very confident in our ability to achieve our internal business goals, which like our internal processes, are planned out in advance.
By applying the very same principles and logic to one of the most important marketing aspects of any business - email marketing, we are able to deliver consistent, repeatable and effective results time and time again.
In the next article, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective tools and apps that you can make use of in managing your business processes for success. These are the same tools and apps we use with you, as we structure your email strategy and execute the plan, for success.