David Jenyns | Escaping the Business Owner Trap

If you went on a vacation for a week… would your business grind to a halt? That means you have an owner-centric business, says David Jenyns. And you need to change the way things are run so you can work on the business – and not so much in it. 

David, founder of systemHUB and creator of the SYSTEMology methodology, says putting the right systems in place and empowering your team will free you up to be more strategic, spur growth, and increase the business’s value. 

Best of all, your business can run profitably without you… giving you the true freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

And yes, you can even implement systems if you offer professional services.

We get into the details of how to actually implement David’s methodology, including…

  • Warning signs of an owner-centric business
  • The biggest limitation to business growth – and how to overcome it
  • How to determine what to systemize first (and why you need less systems than you think)
  • The 3 steps to creating effective systems – and how your team fits into the process
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon, and today, let me tell you, we got a fantastic interview. If you have ever pulled your hair out because you have too much to do and the things in your business are going a little bit crazy, today’s guest is here to help you. I’m talking with David Jenyns. He, in 2016, successfully systemized himself out of his business. And he owns one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, Melbourne SEO Services.

And through that process, he became a real expert in how to systemize a business. He founded a company and a software tool called SystemHub, and a methodology called Systemology. And today, his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their business, which I like. And he’s got a brand new book out called Systemology. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about that as well. So, David Jenyns, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

David Jenyns: Hey, Steve. Thanks for inviting me. Very much looking forward to it.

Steve: Yeah, thanks for being up early. I know you’re all the way in Australia and it’s about six o’clock in the morning. So thanks for the dedication and being up early being here.

David: There’s lots of good stuff to share, so my pleasure.

Steve: So we kind of gave a brief bit of your story, but give us a little bit more. What got you to this stage of your career.

How David Became a Master of Systemization

David: I think like a lot of business owners or entrepreneurs, I’ve had lots of different ideas along the way and been involved in many different things. Everything from importing products from China to rock and roll clothing music store where we had three physical stores to the digital agency to a video production business.

So having been involved in a lot of them, I learned different lessons in each one. I think the most recent, the one that you referenced in my bio was the digital agency because that was the last one and also the one where I got trapped in it the longest. I’ve stayed in that business working in it probably for about 11 years too long, I would say, before I finally had that moment where I realized I had to make some changes because I’d picked up some habits and I felt like I was the guy. You know, I was the one who could solve all of the client’s problems.

The clients were the ones that when we sold them and took them through that sales process, they got to know me, so they became very dependent on me. And I trained up all of my staff. Whenever they’ve got a problem, you come to Dave because Dave solves the problems. And before I knew it, I just boxed myself in to the point where it was really restrictive, working very long hours, evenings, weekends, just to get all of the work done, feel like constantly keeping the team busy.

And then I, for some strange reason, in a lot of those earlier businesses that I’d mentioned, I’d already had some good success with systems and processes. Like we, for the rock and roll clothing music store, we went down the franchising route. We sold our first franchise, so we completely systemize the business. But for whatever reason, this digital agency, I thought, this business is different. I know how to do it. And the online landscape changes so frequently, I couldn’t write any systems down because I was thinking I’d get out of date.

I was worried that the team wouldn’t really follow them because we were a distributed team, so hard to make sure that they are following the process. And being a digital agency, I was worried that getting the systems in place would remove some of the creativity. So I had all of this baggage that floated around and it wasn’t until we found out we were pregnant, and I thought I’ve really got to change the way that I’m doing things, that I’ve focused in and retested a lot of those assumptions and found that I just reached those conclusions without fully testing them.

And even though I had some of that past experience, it wasn’t until I went Hang on, this business can be systemized. Hang on, all businesses are just a collection of systems and some are documented and some aren’t. You just have to first become aware of them, identify the critical ones and go through a process. And that’s really kind of what started me on my newest journey, as I’ve systemized myself out of that agency and then I ended up taking quite a bit of time off after that.

Steve: That’s fantastic. So I want to go back. There’s a lot to unpack in that little story. I want to go back to kind of those 11 years before you made the decision to begin systemizing the business because I think that journey is what a lot of people are living right now. So there are people listening to us who are sitting there going, I’ve got this service business, I am the expert.

How in the world do I create systems out of, you know, my own experience and expertise? And so I think what you just described is really, really common. You know, when you went down that path and just sort of put it all on your shoulders, you know, was that just sort of the way it evolved or was there intentionality around that from the beginning? Like, you started off thinking, you know, this has all gonna be on me, or did you just sort of wander into it?

David: I intuitively knew that the systems were the way. I knew that I’d seen successful businesses that have run through systems and processes. We did it in the rock and roll clothing music store. One of my first businesses I was involved in the stock market education space. And that was all about designing trading systems, which is effectively a system you predefined when you’re going to get in, when you’re going to get out, the position sizing, a lot of that thinking goes upfront to remove the emotion to make sure that you approach the markets consistently.

And I’d read all the books, you know, books like the E myth and Traction and Scaling Up. So I’ve already been sold on the idea of systems. And it wasn’t hard for me to kind of make that leap and go, Okay, this is something that I need to explore further. I think where I got stuck in that particular business was because I could do the thing and I built the business from me working with clients. That’s what trapped me in. And some of the other businesses, I had business partners and other people involved.

So it’s kind of like one step removed. I actually think it’s both a blessing and a curse for the business owner to start the business themselves because it’s that jump from, you know, coming up with the idea, getting traction, selling it, getting clients to come back, proving, you know, that you’ve got a good product to market fit. Getting up to that point is one thing that the bridge to then crossover to build something that works beyond you and having team members and something, that’s a very challenging bridge to cross.

And I think there’s not a huge amount of work that speaks to that. All of the work out there currently really just speaks to the need for it. But we all know it needs to be done. It’s just a matter of how do we do it? And I’m just trying to think, yeah, to rearticulate your question, yeah, can you just maybe just rephrase that? Because I want to make sure that I get right to the point as in what got me to take that jump, or?

Steve: Well, no, I’m thinking about the piece before you took the jump because I think we all get to the point where we, I have yet to meet a business owner that doesn’t believe in systems, right? In the idea of it, right? But we get ourselves into these situations where the business is all on us. And, you know, we’re sort of the glue that holds it together because we don’t have these systems.

And I’m always curious, particularly for somebody who’s made that leap like you have. And with the experience you had going in, you knew better but yet you went down this path, right? And so I’m looking, I guess I’m looking for what are the kind of warning signs for everybody that’s listening to us where they could go, oh wait, I’m doing that. I’m going down this path David’s been down. You know, do you have a sense for what those were?

When to Stop Spinning Plates

David: Definitely. And there’s a lot of criteria that starts to pop up because initially, when you get the business up and running, and if it’s just you and, you know, if you’re bootstrapping it in particular, there is a lot of hustle that needs to go into the work to get it off the ground. And you need to go through that. It’s getting stuck in that phase that is the bit that you really have to watch for.

So it’s, once you’ve got traction, product to market fit, repeat clients, a small team around you but then you start to feel like you’re spinning plates, where you might give one team members and work, you jump to the next. You give them some work. You go all the way through your team, you know, listing out tasks and things that need to be done and then you get to the end and you feel like okay, well now it’s time to do my work. But it’s also, the first team member has run out of work that they have to do.

So then you jump back to the first team member to start giving them more work. So it almost feels like you’re spinning plates. And it happens over an extended period of time where you start to do the same thing over and over and over. One of the unique geniuses or abilities that founders have, is their ability to problem-solve. What we want to do is unleash that so they start solving new and bigger problems, not solving the same problem over and over.

So creating systems is about solving the problem, capturing the way that that problem has been solved in a systematic way so that it can then be passed on. And I’ve done some work with Michael Gerber and he always said something that just stuck in my brain. And you talked about the idea that every business is a school. And the whole idea here is we take these students in, you know, these unrefined recruits, and we go, how do we train them up as quickly as possible to do, to deliver to a certain standard to the point where they say, this is how we do things here.

So a system is all about how do we do that as quickly as possible. So if someone feels like they’re on that treadmill, they’re doing the same thing over and over, oftentimes, they’ll hit a glass ceiling as well, where they really struggle to grow beyond that point. And the biggest limitation is you’ve run out of time. So it’s very hard to make more money when you’ve hit that ceiling if you’ve got no more time, other than elevate your prices.

But even that has a limit to how far you can go. So you’ll stretch both things. You stretch out of time, you try and stretch it up based on, you know, we can increase in prices, that will also reduce your demand. So you get to a point where it reaches this equilibrium and then you’re stuck. You don’t have any more tricks in your bag until you can then create more time. And to do that, it’s about taking things off your plate as the business owner. But again, what makes it so hard is the business owner is used to saying yes to everything.

They’re used to solving all of the problems. They’re used to just getting in there and using their grips to kind of grind through any problem. And again, you need that at the start, but then you have to flip. But all of that great behavior beforehand has got so rewarded, your business has grown to a certain size and you’ve, all of your success has come from you doing that. So then it becomes incredibly challenging to letting go because then you realize you’re stuck. Because you feel like well, but that’s what got me to here and then that’s where that glass ceiling. Does that kind of help explain it?

Steve: Yeah, that’s perfect. And I can imagine that people are watching this or they’re listening to this and they’re kind of nodding like yeah, okay, that’s right where I am. So, you ran the business for 11 years and then you and your wife got pregnant, new baby on the way and something has to change. So you kind of went back to some of the lessons you had learned in earlier businesses. How did you begin, at that point, to make the shift? And how long did it take you to go from, you know, sort of running around, keeping it all together on your own to having it really well systemized?

Shifting Towards Systems

David: Initially, when I did it, I really just grounded out because that’s all I knew how to do, to really get in there and do the hustle and grind. So I heavily got into the development of the systems. We identified the Prada Principle. We applied that and looked for the 20% of the systems that really delivered the 80% of the result, thought about our business in terms of the different departments.

So I was thinking, sales, marketing, HR, you know, operations, management. I thought about each department, and then I imagined there were 20% or what is the top 20% in each of those different departments. And then we started to go to work on those. Definitely in the benefit, like with the benefit of hindsight, one of the key things that made it possible because I was really, really busy and here I was thinking, I’m gonna make myself even busier by doing all of the systems.

That happened at the start and then I had a lady internally that I elevated up in a position and she really became that Yin to my Yang. Where I used to think I was a good people manager until I kind of led her starting to look after some of the stuff and I realized I’m not that great at people management. And she was a lot more detail-orientated and she was systems-focused. So part of that transition is identifying the team members within the team who might already have those tendencies to be systems thinkers or detail-orientated and elevate that person.

I mean, the ultimate is to find the manager who is going to take over from the CEO. If you can find that person within, you are so far ahead of a lot of people because if you don’t have it within, it is a challenging role to recruit for but it’s such an important one. If you think about it, the only way that a business owner can step out is to have someone step in to replace them. So finding that person, and it’s actually, when you explore it, I know Gino Wickman talks about it in his book, Rocket Fuel, that idea of the visionary and the integrator, oftentimes that founder, the startup owner, they are the visionary.

They see the problem in the world. They want to create the products and services to meet that and then they hustle and grind and get everything off the ground. That’s your visionary. But then you do need the integrator who can then step in who manages, who understands the systems and the processes. So working with her and recognizing as well, I think letting a little bit go of my ego because I, a lot of founders and business owners, you kind of feel like, you know, you solve all the problems so you know best and how everything is done.

And then I started to realize, yeah, as much as I thought that was the case, then I started to realize, hang on, there are other team members who do things better than I do. And the real key is if you can create enough space to allow each of your team members to do their best work. So similarly, with systems and processes, I see people when they try and introduce it to their team, they’ll force team members, they’ll say you’ve got to document your systems and your processes.

But you’ll find that even your best team members oftentimes are a lot like you. They’re busy. So systems and processes are always important, but never urgent. And depending on the industry that they might not even be systems people. They might be creatives. And trying to tell a creative to document their systems and the process, good luck with that. It’s like pushing a rock up a hill. So it’s recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of team members and then making it easy for them.

So they’re, you know, some of the tips I talk about around systemizing is making it a two-person job. You’ve got the person who has the knowledge and then you have the person who does the documentation. You just record the knowledgeable person doing the thing and then you get another person who does the documentation. That simple tweak on its own can be a huge game-changer to systems creation because you’ve just made it easy. Whether it’s for the business owner or for your best team members.

Steve: Yeah, and I love that tip. And you talk about it in the book. Making it as simple as going and recording with your iPhone or recording with a Loom video what they’re doing, but then don’t have that person saddled with the responsibility of then sitting and typing the whole thing up. You’ve got somebody else, you know, that pulls it together. For me, as I read the book, that was one of the big ahas was that, as the leader of the business, this isn’t your job to do. It’s maybe your job to have the vision that it needs to get done. And then you got to go to the team and say, All right, we’re gonna go do this because it’s really important.

You got to sell them on the importance of it But then bring them in to actually execute it because I, a lot of people listening to this I’m sure are sitting here going, Yeah, I’ve heard this before I got to do systems. And now I have a headache because I got, I already have 80 hours worth of work to do. Now, I’ve got to do another 20 a week. You know, and so I think that a little tweak is really key. What are some of the other keys to being successful in this? Because I think a lot of people have tried and failed.

David: A few of the keys, one is reducing the amount of systems that you think you need to create. That is a huge one because everybody looks to McDonald’s is the poster child of a systemized business and they think I’m going to need thousands of systems and processes. When you’re just getting started and you think about how McDonald’s systemized 60 years ago, not how they are today, you want to start where they were, not where they are. And if you just start with as little as 15 to 20 systems that are core to the way that you deliver your core product or service, that can be a game-changer.

So I think focus is a key one. Making it easy for the team members. Understanding that it doesn’t need to be perfect either. If you just find out what is the best way that you’re doing things currently in the organization. So find your best salesperson, find your best person who’s doing the work and record them doing it and get everybody up to that standard. That’s, you’ll have significant wins by getting consistency to your best practice.

You don’t have to have it world-class just yet. We just have to get something down and get some consistency. The other things you want to think about, I do say that the business owner is the worst person to be doing the documentation. So hopefully, that gets everybody to breathe a sigh of relief and go, good, okay. And that’s okay. I also say that complexity is the enemy of systemization. So we want to look for simple tools and software to make this happen.

So I think the two key ones, some sort of project management tool in a business is important because we need some level of accountability. Who is doing what by when? It’s what a project management platform might do. And then you just need another platform, a systems management software, something where you can store the how-to documents. Even if it’s as simple as Word documents in a dropbox folder.

You just want to have somewhere where team members can go and it’s a central location rather than being scattered everywhere. Another one that people really miss is the buy-in because they’ll, you have to get staff buy-in on this. There’s no point in having great software or having everything documented if the team won’t actually follow the process. So that’s the most challenging bit. And the biggest resistance always happens upfront with your existing staff because they’re like, Why do I have to change? I’ve always done it this way.

And when you first introduce it, they’re used to the business owner coming up with these ideas and saying, oh, let’s follow this through. And sometimes you as a business owner, you don’t follow through or you change direction so they know that, oh okay, this might just be a fad that comes and goes. But for it really to stick, systems, you’re actually looking for a change in the culture. That’s what it’s about. It’s not just pushing a newer software platform or Hey, I want to do this. It’s, we’re changing the way that we do things. We have a systems approach, we have a way of doing things.

And once, you meet the resistance, but once you start hiring new staff and they go through your systemized approach, then that’s all they’ve ever known. So it actually gets easier. The hardest bit is always at the start and that’s when a lot of people give up. They might try, they’ll get a little bit of resistance, they’ll try and systemize for three months. They’ll let it go. They’ll think about you know, I’m not a systems person or this doesn’t work for me because they tried it but it didn’t work. But all of that resistance is upfront. All of the magic and the benefit that comes from a systemized business is actually on the other side of that.

So you have to push through it. and it’s hard because it’s not the natural tendency of the business owner. And that’s, I feel like it lives in the blind spots of business owners and that’s why so few of them actually end up mastering it. I think the last point I’ll mention on that is, again, doing some work with Michael Gerber some, I found this incredibly insightful when I started working with him and I realized Michael is not a detail-orientated systems person. Michael Gerber wrote the E myth. Everybody knows him as the godfather of business systems. You would think that he would be a really systemized person.

He’s not. He is a creative thinker of the first order. Like, he can come up with things in his mind and then bring them into reality. It’s a magnificent gift to watch that. But when it comes to the implementation, that’s what the team around him do. So it’s, and what that did is that enabled me to go and that’s okay. Like, you don’t have to be a systems person necessarily, to have a system-centered business. You have to appreciate it and value it and empower the right team members.

And you can feel the benefits of it. And you just got to create the right structures around the business owner so that they also don’t screw the system up. Because a lot of times the business owner will want to kind of come in and they don’t follow the process and, you know, how are you supposed to get the rest of the team to follow the process if the business owner won’t follow the process? So there’s a few little intricacies there.

Steve: Yeah, I’m sure. So you talk about needing to get through this sort of period with the existing staff, you know, kind of getting over the hump and getting the culture bought into it. Are there anything, any kind of strategies you’ve seen that work well to get them to that point, to get that buy-in?

Show Your Team How Systems Can Benefit Them

David: A bigger thing is always putting yourself in their shoes and helping them to understand the benefit of the systems to them, not necessarily to the organization. So it’ll vary from person to person. Oftentimes, I’ll say, you know what it’s like when you go away on holidays and you come back and you’ve got an inbox with 1000 emails and nothing’s been done. And then you spend the next three months trying to catch up for one week off.

Well, what we’re trying to do by systemizing is making it so that team members can step in and keep things moving so when you come back, you can hit the ground running and you don’t have that stress and the overwhelm. And when you’re on holidays, you can just enjoy and think about being on holiday. So that’s one positive for a team. Another one, some team members like the idea of having a career path and moving up with you. And if you say, well, by systemizing parts of your role, now you’re able to delegate that to lower-cost team members. That makes you more valuable, you can take higher levels of responsibility.

And that actually gets you to move up in the organization. So you tie that idea of success to systemizing and capturing what they’re doing. So that’s another one. Oftentimes, that can be enough. And right now, particularly with everything that’s going on in the world with the pandemic, I have never seen an easier time in history to systemize than right now because there’s so much change that’s going on in people’s home lives, in their work lives, in their community, in their family lives.

Like, with all of this change, people are so much more receptive. So if you introduce, hey, we have to change the way that we’re doing things. We need this systemized approach because everybody’s working virtually and under different conditions. We have to get more efficient. I’m finding the reception is greater than it’s ever been. And there’s uncertainty as well for people, so they don’t want to let go of maybe a position or something like that.

So it’s, that creates a great opportunity. And the last one, which I touch on in the book. It’s funny, I wrote it, and I’ve had a management consultant reach out to me and they said, Oh, you do know modern management, you know, you can lead people through the change. And in the book, he was talking to a section I talked about where you’ll get to, sometimes you might find there are team members that just aren’t the right fit for you. Like they might have helped you grow to one level, but then maybe they’re not the right team member to grow you through to that next level.

And there might be a point where you discover that, hey, this new systemized culture that you’re building just doesn’t work with them. And that’s okay. I think, part of, you know, moving forward in your recruiting process, you can spot that early because you’ll build in a systemized approach and build the importance of systems into that recruiting and then that sends the signals to the right team members to attract them in. But for existing staff, they obviously haven’t seen that. They’re already working with you and you may reach that conclusion that they’re not the right fit.

And I still stick by that idea that okay, well, at some point, you may need to let go of staff. I’m not suggesting that you go fire a whole bunch of them but if you find like, you’ll do your best efforts to lead someone, but I learned that early on that not everybody is going to be a perfect fit for this. And that’s okay. You just, you’re looking for team members that do get the way that you do things. And this is the way that you do things here. And that’s part of the culture you’re looking to build. So it’s about finding and attracting and drawing those team members into your company.

Steve: I think that’s all fantastic advice. So I want to change gears a little bit. You’ve got a software product called SystemHub, which you and I haven’t talked about this, but we started using it over the last month. And we’re moving, we had documented some things in, sort of haphazardly in Google Docs. And we started switching over to SystemHub. It’s phenomenal because I can, sometimes I’m the knowledgeable one and I’ve got to document myself and so I’ll record a video and I’ll just drop it in there and let somebody else come behind and clean it up and formalize it and all that.

And we’re beginning to get people on the team doing that which is fantastic. So you’ve got that, you’ve got Systemology as a program that you offer and you, of course, got the new book out. I’d like to start with SystemHub a little bit because I think that’s where a lot of this began. Well, you know, tell us a little bit about the tool and why you created it. Why you felt like there was a need for it.

David: See, it was part of that journey with Melbourne SEO Services. So when I realized, hey, I want to do the systems thing and I want to start to remove myself, Then I started to go, where am I going to store all of these systems and processes? Initially, we did use Dropbox and Word documents. And that seems to go okay when you’re a super micro team. And yes, there are some challenges but you can kind of work through them. But I found as the team started to grow, very quickly, we started to meet lots of different challenges.

Things like they’re not being consistently formatted, different version issues, because you’d have multiple of the same document floating around. Sometimes you’d want some team members to see things and some other team members not to see things. So, you know, the marketing team didn’t need to see all of the HR systems or the finance systems. So not only that, in Word, we couldn’t embed the videos. Like we would have to just put a link in and that would open into something else rather than just having it right there.

And we couldn’t add email templates. So we started coming across all of these challenges, and I recognize that the systems, one of the most important assets yet, we weren’t giving them the respect that they deserved. I felt like just having them off in a Dropbox folder was doing them a disservice and didn’t show to the team that we valued these. Like it was so important that we built a central store for all of this knowledge. And it was really critical to have it as easy as possible to use. We looked at some solutions and had all these fancy bells and whistles.

And I found that actually reduced the adoption. We tried one or two of them and I had to train the team members up how to use them because it wasn’t intuitive. And then because they had all of the different functionality, there’s one I remember using, the team said look, we’re probably going to use about 10% of what this software does. Like, it’s trying to be something for everybody as opposed to doing something very well.

So that’s when we kind of just thought, well hang on, this is center to the way that we do things. We want to build a system-centered business. And we have a methodology and approach and a way of looking at things, so then let’s build it. And then we built it and it started going really well. Like, lots of companies started signing up organically. What was interesting to watch though, was the difference between those that made it work and then those that didn’t.

The ones that didn’t tend to be the ones, I could tell because they’d sign up and it’s why I actually resisted a free trial for such a long time because people would sign up, it was the busy business owner. Yes, I need this. They’d sign up to the trial. Three, you know, 30 days would roll around, they hadn’t really used the platform. And of course, it’s not going to work for them if they haven’t even logged in. And that’s when I realized the software is one piece of the equation.

But there’s a lot more that needs to happen to really have that breakthrough with systems. And that’s where Systemology came into the play. Because I realized, you know, software’s one bid, we then also need to get, you know, all of the, like performance measures in place. We need to, an easy way to capture the systems and the processes and then we need a way to get buy-ins. And once we started to get those three things together, that’s really when we started to go Okay, we’re onto something. So SystemHub bubbled into Systemology.

And now I’m realizing we actually want to lead with Systemology because you have to understand the process first before you think about the tools. So unless you already have some training or some understanding of systems, you can jump straight to SystemHub if you already respect the system, but you first got to learn that respect for the system and their importance to really value the tools. So that was kind of a little bit of my journey on how it came to be.

Steve: Yeah, I think that’s a great observation that you almost need to lead with Systemology. I think the book does a good job of that. You know, having read the book, it makes the case. And I’m sure as business owners are reading it, they’re all gonna be nodding, yes, absolutely. We need this But you lay it out in an achievable way. You know, and so I remember I first read the E Myth when I was running my first company.

And it totally changed the way that I looked at things. And we started systematizing. And I mean, this is, you know, mid-90s. You know, so we barely had the internet. And so the way that we did it was a little bit different in terms of how it was implemented, but the way of thinking about it was very much the same. You know, and, you know, fast forward, of course, like you, I fell into the trap and, you know, and we’ve slowly started climbing out. But I think it’s one thing to number one believe that you need them.

It’s different than to have a roadmap for how to get it done, which is what I think Systemology gives you. And the book really brings that across. But the third piece, which is the tool, and I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the tool because there are other ways to do it. But we’ve tried a lot of other ways of capturing the data. So we’ve done Google Docs for a number of years. But it’s got its limitations and can be challenging. We tried, we use Basecamp for project management. We tried within there to embed all of the processes.

That creates its own nightmare if you ever want to switch tools. And you talk about that. We’ve experienced that because we tried to switch at one point and had to replicate everything. So having that, I think that purpose-built tool that’s really, really simple is important. Like you, we’ve tried some of the other ones that are out there that sort of claim to do the same thing. And they like to morph into a little bit of project management and a little bit of systems and they try and mix all these things. And I just found that that doesn’t work very well.

Simplicity is Key

David: Yeah. They, with the mixing, it’s part of what makes a project management platform great is that you can get insight on where a project is up to in one location. If you have to look in multiple locations, you’re starting to undermine the benefits of having a project management platform.

And it’s funny, I can tell someone who has really got some great experience with business when they pick up some of the subtleties of Systemology when you read it, by design, it’s kept really, really simple, but I often find the things that have the deepest thought and then that really are the most complex are things that appear simple because you learn on what should be left out and what is essential and what is not. So when we wrote Systemology, and it’s the same with SystemHub, it was going through the journey and then learning by ah, Yes, that doesn’t work.

Like building your systems into another platform, systems need to be kept separate. That way you can, because your, all the other tools are going to change. You’re going to try new CRMs and marketing automation platforms and you want to, and that will grow over time. So you want to keep that separation so that you always have a central location. And simplicity is key. Like it’s counterintuitive. You think more features is better but it’s actually not because then it ends up getting in the way and complicated.

Because systems, at the best of times, will have friction. Your team will oftentimes always be looking for the most efficient way. They’re oftentimes, they don’t want to always have a system and process open that they follow. Like, there are certain industries where they really drum it into, like, if you’re a pilot or something like that, they literally have it out there and it’s so ingrained in them. And some industries that’s need it, but for small business, you do need to be a little bit more understanding. It’s not about ruling with an iron fist. It’s getting the minimum viable product.

It’s training everybody up to a certain standard. If they don’t quite get it right, pointing them back to the system. And these are all of the things that you kind of learn as you go through it. So I think for someone who’s brand new, they might not appreciate the depth of Systemology, but that’s also, I think, why I’m getting such great feedback because even people that are systems people are saying, Ah, you’ve hit this and this and I’ve not heard that talked about. But you have to see with system eyes to understand that.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. It really is, I really recommend everybody who’s listening to this or watching this, go get the book. I assume it’s available at Amazon and I know on your website. But get the book, read the book.

David: Now as well, you’re probably an audio person, and we did just launch on Audible. And Michael Gerber reads the foreword and his wife makes a little cameo. So if you, yeah, you can either buy the book or the Kindle on Amazon, or even Audible if you’re more of a listener.

Steve: Awesome. That’s fantastic. So, David, just to kind of bring everything together, if you had any advice for somebody who’s, they’re listening to this and they haven’t started yet, what would be a first step that you would recommend that they do?

David: The first step, and it’s simple, just get at an A4 of paper and we have an exercise we call the Critical Client Flow. Just think of your core product or service. Think about, you know, your dream client, you know, who you would sell that core product or service to, write that in the top left-hand corner of the page and then just work down the page thinking, How do I get customers? Like what, how do I grab their attention?

Just put a few boxes and a few bullets. Then move down. How do you respond to an inquiry? Move down the page. What is your sales process? And just keep it very high level. Just one or two words in each of these boxes. Then you move down. How do you onboard that client if they decide to go ahead? And how do you, might you invoice them? And then move down the page. How do you deliver the core product or service? And then how do you get them to come back?

If you just start by mapping that on an A4 bit of paper, it’s a fantastic focusing tool and a way to identify the 10 to 15 systems that you can really focus in on systemizing. Because if you do that, you’re able to systemize the way that the business makes money. And if the business can make money without being dependent on the business owner, that’s when you create something that’s scalable. So that’s always the first place that I suggest people start to get the business making money where the business owner is not involved.

Steve: That’s fantastic. And I know you take the reader through that exercise in the book. So aside from Amazon, where should people go if they want to find out more? What’s the best website for them to find you?

David: Yeah, hit the systemology.com/book and link through to all of the places. And if you got questions, you can grab me on social. And I’ve got some YouTube videos and a podcast where we interview people and get them to share their systems. It’s a bit different from yours, Steve. You get to hear about the journey, whereas I just kind of tell them, Okay, tell me, step one, step two, step three. It’s a little bit different. But yeah, all of those links at systemology.com/book.

Steve: That’s awesome. Well, that’s, your podcast sounds almost a little bit intimidating to be on. I’d have to go create a system before I could come on. That’s awesome. Well, folks get the book. I highly recommend it. I’ve read it. Like I said, we’ve started using SystemHub. If you’re at that point, we’ve looked at lots of tools and I can tell you it’s the simplest, most straightforward purpose built for the task. So give it a look. And David, thanks for being up early, again. Thanks for investing a little bit of time with me. This has been fun.

David: Pleasure. Thanks for having us, Steve.

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