The cure for growing pains

August 1, 2015 | Systemizing | Beth Schneider

Jami and I recently met with someone that felt like they just couldn't seem to catch up. The new projects were piling up and they needed a plan. Ever feel that way?

The more you feel like you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the more you need to stop and look at the systems you are running and the team you have.

One of the best things about creating systems is they create a solid foundation for your business. However, as your company grows you may find that what used to work, suddenly doesn't. The reason? You've outgrown them!

It sneaks up on you gradually. One moment, things are going great. You're on top of your games, things are like smooth sailing. Then slowly you notice that things are taking a little longer, and soon that email box is filling up, projects are getting behind, you're forgetting things, putting things off and just trying to keep up. But "keeping up" has you working longer than you ever have before and that list of new things you'd like to do just keeps getting pushed further and further into the pile.

Can you feel it? It's a classic case of growing pains. The problem is that while the business has "grown up", evolved and changed, your systems haven't kept up with that growth. It's kind of like telling your 17 year old he should wear the same shoes as he did when he was 4 and expecting them to fit. Or telling your 21 year old college student to go to bed at 7pm because it's her "bedtime". It's no longer effective, and it's just not going to work.

Here are 3 steps to handling growing pains.

Look at where you feel stuck. What used to be easy that suddenly seems overwhelming or unending? One of my clients was telling me how he just couldn't seem to catch up. There were a million projects sitting in his email in-box every day. He realized in the past he was able to handle all the requests that came through his box, but that was no longer the case. Fast forward to today, we updated his project intake system by adding a few steps and the interaction of an existing team member. It only took about one hour to set up. Now, he's saving about 3 hours each week and it's all getting done.

Be open to looking at things differently. Knowing you are stuck and actually being willing to alter what you are doing are two different things. A husband and wife team we are working with knew that things weren't working the way they wanted them to. But they'd been doing the same things, the same way for so long it took some serious negotiating from the husband to get his wife to look at new and different ways of doing things. When they did, they streamlined their operations so that they were able to work with MORE clients while working fewer hours than they had before.
It's often difficult to look at your habits and workflow objectively. Look for someone in your own life: a consultant, business partner, life partner, colleague or someone who can be open with you and help you really SEE where the process isn't working for you anymore.

Determine what you need to know. I know from my own business that as you grow, what you need as a business owner changes. Several years ago, when I was the only consultant in the business, I didn't need a report about what was happening with the clients - I was the one working with them every day. Well now that my consulting team works with the clients, I need to keep on top of a client's progress. Even though I don't personally work one-on-one with the client, I created a series of reporting steps so I know exactly what is going on. I have the same control and knowledge as if I was doing it myself . . . but I'm not.
Often people are afraid to let go of things because they are afraid of giving up that control. Determine what information you need to have on a regular basis to feel that you have that control and then build it in to the new system.
Now, it's your turn. Have fun and see how laying out the operations of your business will relieve the growing pains.

Take care,

Beth Schneider Wachner


© Beth Schneider, Process Prodigy, Inc.
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