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Systemizing Your Business to Get More Free Time

Published on Wednesday - June 28, 2017

As Michael E. Gerber remarked, in his seminal book, The E-Myth, your goal as an entrepreneur is not to “run” a business, but in fact, “own” a business. This is because, until you’re able to separate yourself from your venture and start down the path of systemizing your business, you’ll not only hamstring your business’s ability to grow, but also deplete your energy. Remember: the point of building a successful business is to free you up to spend time with friends and family, not get more things done.

The challenge for a real estate investor, who hasn’t yet developed the muscle of building business systems or doesn’t have a ton of experience in developing automated real estate business strategies, is one of “missing the forest for the trees.”

When you’re in the trenches of building a real estate business, it can be quite easy to not know where to begin when installing real estate business systems. It’s even easier to fill your to-do list with ideas for implementing proven business systems, only to find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted in the process — and with less free time than when you had started.

Whether you’re looking to improve the efficiency and success of your business or simply attempting to carve out more time away from the desk — or both! — here’s a three-step process for systemizing your business and giving your real estate investing venture the oxygen it needs to breathe.

Secrets to Systemizing Your Business

Building business systems

Why Systematize Your Business?

Before we jump into the nuts-and-bolts of adding proven business systems to your operation, it’s important to establish a clear “why” for the systemization of your business. You may have a vague notion of how systemizing your business might be a good thing — it certainly sounds like a very grown-up and professional thing to do — but until you understand the key benefits, on a gut level, you’ll lack the required motivation to see the job all the way through.

Adding systems to your business has the following advantages:

  • Depersonalize your business: It can be an emotional roller-coaster to ride the ups and downs of a real estate investing business. By instituting systems in your business you’ll be able to rationally, and with a dispassionate eye, look at the performance of each system, then make adjustments accordingly, without getting emotionally involved in the day-to-day.
  • Consistency: There’s nothing worse than having one end of your business look (and act) incongruous from the other. Yet we all know Fortune 500 companies who make this mistake all the time. By integrating business systems you’ll enjoy a consistency and integration across all areas of your venture, which can help you avoid confusion and decision-fatigue about what to do next.
  • Leverage: There’s no quicker way to gain leverage in your business, than to systemize your business, and then hand over those systems to members of your team. (You’ll get more done, and accumulate less gray hairs, in the process.)

Phase #1: Take Inventory

The goal is not to bulldoze your way through your entire real estate business and start from ground-zero. But instead to get a clear sense of the existing systems you already have in place, and then figure out how to improve them, as well as come up with new systems that can augment your existing operations.

A couple of key areas to look at:

  • Current systems: What systems do you currently have in place? How would a stranger organize your business?
  • Rock stars: Which current systems are successful? Why are they working? What’s their secret sauce?
  • Underachievers: Which systems need to be tweaked? What obstacles are standing in the way of your business being awesome?
  • Wish list: Which systems would you like to create to help improve your business? Don’t just focus on performance, also focus on leverage, namely giving you more bang for your “time” buck.

Phase #2: Create a System Path

Often a business can feel like a labyrinth, in which you’re surrounded by hedges and unable to see the way out. But by breaking down every business system, according to its step-by-step path, you’ll not only see places where you can fix inefficiencies, but lay the groundwork to handing off those systems to somebody else. (The real goal!)

Here’s how to create system paths:

  • Pick a medium: Whether you use mind-mapping software, or hand-drawn visualizations made with crayons, pick whatever medium you prefer to map out the flow of all your systems.
  • Every action: Take each system, and write down every action that happens within that system from beginning to end. Don’t fib; be honest, and be sure to put the “time spent” on each action.
  • Inefficiencies: If you’re honest with your system flow, you’re going to see inefficiencies. That’s great! Means you’re ready for…
  • Documentation: This is, by far, the most important part of systemizing your business. The goal here is to document what “should” happen, ideally, for each system. How tasks should be accomplished, in what order, what materials are needed, what best practices should be followed, how long each task should take, etc.

Step #3: Hand Off the System

You’ve done the hard part! Now, it’s time to take all your systemization efforts — both the visualization and the documentation — and (finally) hand it over to a system owner.

This doesn’t have to be done all at once; no need to hire 12 full-time employees right out the gate. But do your best to hand over at least one key action a week, or one entire system a month, to somebody else. (You might even create a system to handle this “handing over” of systems!)

Work Hard, Play Hard

Systemizing your business isn’t about slacking off or trying to outsource every aspect of your business so you can sip Mai-Tai’s in the South Pacific. (Although if you can pull that off, more power to you!)

It’s about knowing the “devil is in the details,” and the more you can go over your real estate business with a fine tooth-comb, the abler you’ll be to find areas that need improvement. Then gradually, with someone else on your team taking systems off your plate, you’ll find your business (and quality of life) reaching heights you never dreamed possible.

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