Do you want to know how to fall in love with using systems?
Listen as David Jenyns, bestselling author of SYSTEMology, shares his wisdom to create easy, workable systems you enjoy using and make you more productive.
Do you want to know how to fall in love with systems you enjoy using?
Listen as David Jenyns, bestselling author of SYSTEMology, shares his wisdom to create easy, workable systems you enjoy using and make you more productive.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Fall in Love With Systems You Enjoy Using" you will discover...
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Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today, my special guest is David Jenyns, bestselling author of SYSTEMology.
In 2016, David successfully systemized himself out of his position at one of Australia's most trusted digital agencies, melbourneseoservices.com. As a result, he became a systems devotee, founding SystemHub and SYSTEMology. Today, his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their business.
All the way from Melbourne, Australia, living our tomorrow, David, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show. Thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
David Jenyns: Fantastic. Thanks for the introduction, Susan. I'm so very much looking forward to this episode. I know we're going to deliver a lot of value for the listeners.
Susan Friedmann: Just have to find out, how's our tomorrow looking?
David Jenyns: The future is looking bright.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent.
David Jenyns: I always love to say that for my overseas clients.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. Always like to hear that. David, systems. I mean, systems devotee, what better subject to talk about than obviously systems? I'm going to admit right up front that I am one of those entrepreneurs who's tried and failed to systemize my business. What do you have to say about that?
David Jenyns: This might be a little bit of a therapy session for you, Susan.
Susan Friedmann: I know. I can take it. I need it.
David Jenyns: If it makes you feel any better, look, I am not a systems person either, and it is the dirty little secret of SYSTEMology. I don't like writing systems and processes and documenting things. That's not my thing. I'm a visionary founder who's started multiple companies, who's recognized the value of systems and I've actually fallen in love with what systems deliver.
I haven't fallen in love with what it takes to get those systems into place. I just know every business owner needs this and it's okay. Even if you don't like systems and processes or don't see yourself as a systems person, that is very normal, very natural. A lot of founders are that way.
Susan Friedmann: Saying that, at the same time, I know that people who have got systems, their businesses work sometimes a lot better when they actually have a system in place. For instance, I actually say that probably the best system I have is actually the podcast. I know exactly what I'm going to say, what I do throughout the interview and then what I do afterwards and then how I get it out to my fans and followers. I think, yes, I've got one system and it works well for me, but it's the others that don't.
David Jenyns: Yes. I had a very similar experience that gave me this real breakthrough for the way that I think about systems. I used to own a digital agency and we had like a sub-brand or a company that lived under the parent company that was a video production company, because a lot of our clients wanted videos made. Now, I'm not a video guy. Like I don't know how to edit in Adobe Premiere or I don't know how to use the equipment.
It was a real interesting business for me to own where I couldn't actually get on the tools. I remember going out for a drive once. It was one of the first shoots I went on with our videographer and we spent the entire drive, it was about a 45-minute drive to the client, discussing things like, "Oh, did we bring the spare battery? Did we email the client to remind them not to wear checkered shirts because that looks really average on screen? Oh, I hope we got the second lens."
I just remember thinking at the end of that shoot, "I can't believe we spent the entire time thinking about things that should have just been handled by a good system. We straight after that shoot created a packing checklist. Before we went on any shoots, we would just follow the process to make sure that we had the extra cables, the lenses, the batteries, all the emails were sent.
About six months later, I went on another shoot with the same videographer and the discussion was completely different. We talked about what he wanted to capture in the story and how he wanted to evoke the right response from the actors and what were some of the shots he was keen to try and capture in the extra B-roll footage. It was just a completely different experience.
I thought, "Wow, the idea of creating systems and getting systems in place, it's a little bit counterintuitive." Systemization would remove the creativity or it's easy to jump to that conclusion, but the reverse is actually true. By systemizing all of the things that need to happen, all of the administrative things, it frees your mind to then have space to think about the creative things.
That for me was a really big turning point and almost speaks exactly to what you're talking about with your podcast, which is a fantastic podcast. The reason it's great is because all of the administrative stuff you just have handled and organized and it means you are able to kind of get in the moment and the zone when you're doing the interview.
Susan Friedmann: You're absolutely right. Wow. This is a great therapy session. I really like it. I went from feeling down to feeling up now, so that's good. I always want to know about getting started. I think that story was perfect in terms of, I was just visualizing this car ride and I've had those kind of conversations with people like, "Have we got this? Have we got that? Did we pack this?" Et cetera.
I was like, "Wow, yes." That birthed the system for that particular project or whatever you call it, those jobs. In a business, where do you get started? What should you systemize? Is there sort of a priority system? Help me with that.
David Jenyns: That is the most common question I get because I do feel these days, there's a lot of work done around this idea of why you should systemize. A lot of business owners already intuitively have the feeling and know that systems are important and they need to get built in a business and they're going to help you improve efficiency, reduce errors, allow you to scale and grow your company. All that good stuff. We're all sold on that.
Then the next question comes, well, where do I start? I feel like that was a big part of why I wrote SYSTEMology because I felt that question has been poorly answered to date. The first step in SYSTEMology really addresses that question because there are potentially hundreds of systems that you could create in your business. Whether it's recruiting staff, onboarding staff, getting clients, HR, finance-related thing, issuing out invoices, doing P&Ls.
There's just literally hundreds of things that go on in a small business. When I got down to sort of developing the SYSTEMology method, I thought, "Well, what are the first 10 to 15 systems that any business should systemize?"
Then I thought, "What makes a business work is the ability to deliver a product or service consistently through to its clients from grabbing the attention of a prospect all the way through to selling them, delivering that core product or service and then getting them to come back. If you can systemize just that piece of the journey, then what you actually systemize is how the business makes money.
Once a business can make money, you can solve just about any problem in business with cash flow. If you've got money, you can solve just about any problem. Starting with the idea of how does the business make money? Is a fantastic place to start. I have an exercise. Someone listening could even play along with this. They'll get themselves out an A4 bit of paper. We have an exercise we call a critical client flow. It starts off in the top left-hand corner.
You just list out who is your dream client? The person who pays your advertised prices, refers friends and family, is a pleasure to deal with and you'd like a whole lot more of them. Write that person down. Then underneath that think, "What is the first product or service that I would sell to that dream client?" It's like that gateway product, the introduction to the rest of your product line.
Think about what that is. Then once you've identified those two, then what we do is we map the journey that both the prospect and the business go through to deliver that core product or service. Again, it's very high level to start. When you work from the SYSTEMology book, there's a little template. It all fits on one A4 bit of paper. You can't put loads of words in this.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to keep it very high level. One of the rules I always say is you can only capture what you're currently doing, not what you would like to be doing. You just work your way down. You go, "How do I grab the attention of that target person?" Maybe you do referrals. Maybe you do social media. Maybe you do Google AdWords, whatever it is.
You list a few of the ways that you grab the attention of that target audience. Then how do you handle that incoming inquiry? What does your sales process look like? Do you have a qualification call? Do you hop on Zoom? Do you then issue out a proposal? Very high level. We just work our way down the page.
Then we think, "Once they say they're ready to go, do we issue out an invoice? How do we onboard them? Do we get them to fill out a questionnaire? Do we add them into a project management platform? Then how do we deliver the core product or service?" Now that particular one can have quite a lot of sub-steps, but again, we just keep it very high level at this point in time. You might just go, "Make blue widget."
Then finally you've got like the delivery of that widget, handing it over and figuring out what else we might be able to continue to serve the client with. But just mapping that full ... What we call a critical client flow down, only capturing what you're currently doing, not what you would like to be doing, getting it all on one A4 bit of paper.
That is a fantastic way to think about where to start and to answer the question of all of the things I could be systemizing, where do I start? Then the final step in this, which I didn't actually mention in the SYSTEMology book, but it's a little bit of a distinction that's happened later, is then to think, "Where in this critical client flow is the pain or where is the thing that would break down? If you got a hundred times more clients, what breaks first?"
You might go, "It's my sales process." Or you might go, "It's my onboarding." Or if I go at a hundred new clients, I wouldn't know how to keep up with the delivery of the product or service. Sometimes that ... There's a few other questions you can ask, but that kind of allows you to focus even further into the critical client flow and get great clarity around, well, what systems am I going to work on first?
Susan Friedmann: That is brilliant. Oh my goodness. I'm just visualizing this whole thing as you're saying it. It's like, "Yeah." As you say, you're going from what you actually do now, not what you would like to do, so it makes much more sense as you map it all out. I love that. It doesn't really matter how many steps there are, or do you keep it to a certain number of steps? Is there an optimum number?
David Jenyns: The way I think about the critical client flow is there's not going to be more than about 10 to 15 steps in there. If you find you're putting too much detail in, what you do is you just chunk up. For example, you might think issuing out a proposal.
Now you might have written that as lots of little ... maybe you wrote that as two steps where we have to first calculate out exactly what the project's going to look like and then brief it and then move it into our MYOB and write out the proposal. Like now we're kind of talking, there's a handful of steps, whereas that you may be able to chunk up and that would just be, generate proposal.
For this first step it is really about trying to keep it very high level to the point where you should be able to sit down with someone who doesn't know anything about your business or understand your business, you should be able to show them the critical client flow and they should be able to say, "Yeah, I get it." Even though I might not know that you sold blue widgets, I now have a feeling for the way that your blue widgets business works.
The detail that you were talking about and the number of steps and those sorts of things can come later. We first identify top level. Then later on, if you imagine each one of these boxes on the critical client flow will end up having a system or a process that sits behind that. It's almost like an ... We call it an overview system. It kind of gives a top down level on the way that everything interacts and then you'll have these subsystems that help to support that overall system.
Susan Friedmann: I've got a word for that. It's called keep it simple.
David Jenyns: Yes. Perfect. Spot on.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. Just keep it simple. Especially in that first go-round. As you say, I love the idea of the fact that behind each step, there's probably another system, but you're not going to put that up front because that becomes overwhelming.
David Jenyns: And that-
Susan Friedmann: You have the first ... Yeah, I get it. I mean, that makes so much sense to me. Yeah.
David Jenyns: That one as well, the time that happens most commonly is in the delivery of the product or the service. Oftentimes underneath that there is multiple subsystems. It can be really challenging for a detail-orientated person to just go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. We're just going to say delivery or the making of the blue widget." That's all you put in that box.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. I'm on the other side. I'm the creative one. It's like, "Okay." That's why systems for me is like, "Yeah, but I want to do it another way than the system." That's often what happens to me is that I create the system, but then I don't use it. That doesn't make sense either. One of the things that you say in the book is business owners are typically the worst people to document a system. David, it's me, myself and I and in my business, so who's going to design my system?
David Jenyns: Yeah. This is a good question because it kind of really speaks to the idea of whether or not SYSTEMology would apply for small teams. When I wrote the SYSTEMology book, I wrote it with a specific person in mind that was up to a specific point of growth in their business. I talk about this idea of the person having traction and have a couple of team members around them and they're finding the business owner is really the bottleneck.
Then people jump to the conclusion and think, "Ah, well, SYSTEMology doesn't work for smaller teams." But just some adjustments need to be made. If it is just me, myself and I, what you do is some of the exercises will still apply. The critical client flow is still really helpful to go through if it is me, myself and I.
Then once that is done, we keep following that philosophy of SYSTEMology, which is capture what you are currently doing, not what you would like to be doing. Next time that you issue out an invoice, you use Loom or Zoom or some sort of screen recording software. You record yourself doing the task. Then what you end up doing is you create ... And it might be as simple as a Dropbox folder or a Google Drive folder.
Within that, you might create a series of sub-folders called the different departments, sales, marketing, HR, finance, and then all you start to do is you save and catalog these videos of you doing those tasks into the folders. That's a really great step one because you're not going to get a huge amount of leverage from you documenting if you don't have any team members around you.
You already know how to do the thing and at least initially for the foreseeable future, it's going to be you who's going to be doing it. You're not going to get any great benefit and it can be quite busy work. We always say, "Well, just record what you're doing so it doesn't take you too far out of the flow of what you're already doing." Record it, warts and all. Stumble over words, redo things, whatever. They can be just really long videos.
That then can become a starting point. If you want to edge yourself out of some sort of administrative tasks, one of the first assistants that you might hire is someone who comes in and helps to do some of the documentation. They need to be trained. If you get an administrative assistant, they're going to need to know what it is that they need to do. There's no better job for them to get started than to make the system.
They might watch here's four times that Susan issued out an invoice to clients in MYOB. I've watched the four videos and I've captured out now bullet points on what Susan's doing. That becomes version one of the system. Even as the team grows and you get more team members on board, it's still a case that the documentation is rarely the best use of the business owner's time.
If the business owner can find ways to get the processes out of their head in the most efficient manner, and then have another team member who does the documentation and apply that same rule of thinking, no matter how many team members you've got, I always say systems creation is a two-person job. You've got the person who has the knowledge, and then you've got a separate person who's the documenter.
Susan Friedmann: That's really a lovely idea of recording yourself doing it. Visually you're doing it step by step so you don't have to think about it because often it's just automatic. I'm just doing it because I've done it so many times that I just don't think about it. Then somebody else seeing that, then they can say, "Oh, well, first Susan did this and then she this and then...
David Jenyns: A big part of this is thinking about what the system is there to do. The system doesn't need to explain exactly how to complete the task flawlessly every single time that can be done by a 15-year-old kid who has zero knowledge about your business and can handle every exception and understands how to do it flawlessly first go. That's not the way it works. A system is a great way to shortcut the learning curve.
If you were bringing on an assistant and then they watched you do it four times, and then they pulled out the bullet points and then they had a go at it and you gave them a little bit of feedback, that first chunk that happens without you, you're saving about 80% of your time in having to get them up to a minimum standard.
Then all you do then is step in to give that final bit of guidance to get them to where they need to be, depending on who the team member is. Sometimes they don't need that level of guidance. Depends on how you recruit and things like that. It's understanding that it's not like a be-all and end-all and we're never going to chat and provide direction and feedback or handle exceptions now that we have a system in place. Usually exceptions are just handled by more senior team members.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. One of the questions that you pose in the book is, what if it were possible to create a business that runs itself? I would love that David. What's the magic formula?
David Jenyns: There's a few steps to make this happen. Firstly, it's not going to overnight. I think building in a culture of systems and a way of doing things to the point at which you get a small team who can deliver that core product or service without any key person dependency and they say, "This is how we do things here." That's kind of the goal that we are going towards. It would start off ... And let's say, we take your example.
If you did the critical client flow, then in your head you want to start to think about, "How could this be delivered without key person dependency?" Do you even see that as possible? I think sometimes if it's a business that you've created from day dot and you are the person who is so heavily involved in the delivery of the core product or service, that can be challenging to see.
That's how I got that perspective with the video business, where I couldn't hop onto the tools anyway. I had to immediately see this business working without me. Yet, if you talk to a lot of videographers, they can't imagine a world where that is possible, but because I couldn't see it for myself in the first place, it made it possible for me.
That's probably one of the biggest challenges and why so many business owners struggle to make this leap, is because they know how to deliver the thing or do the product or service. They've always done it and they understand it inside and out. Now that's just part of the way that they see their business. But there are ways to do it where you might create a little product line that's off to the side, or it might be just a chunk of your core product or service.
You might ... Thinking of your business, Susan, and the publishing work that you do, rather than it being like a full publishing package, maybe it's just a little chunk. Who knows? Maybe it's something like let's just use that as a real sort of basic example. Imagine building a business just around designing book covers and you get really good at that piece and systemizing that and finding the right people to deliver that piece.
Just having a small enough win where you get a feeling of something being delivered and income being generated that wasn't dependent on you, that will actually open your eyes then to what's possible.
Susan Friedmann: Isn't this how this whole online courses, isn't that part of a system that here you are sharing your knowledge, your ideas in a way that anybody can go look at it and learn from you? Obviously what we've been through now with COVID and everything. I mean, online courses have gone through the roof because you haven't necessarily been able to deliver what you usually deliver, either in person or however you do it, primarily in person. Now everything's virtual, it's like a whole different business line now.
David Jenyns: Definitely like the knowledge game, and I feel like you are in the perfect position for that because a lot of knowledge businesses start with a book. I feel like that's where a lot of the thinking comes from. You look at our business, SYSTEMology. SYSTEMology is the book. There's a core number of thinking there.
That's the way that we used to launch book and there's actually a range of different educational products and different tiers, depending on how someone wants to learn and what level of support. Like we have the lowest level option being an online program that's more of a do-it-yourself. Then there's like a group program, which then is a bit more of a combination of some live calls and some material.
Then we've got the highest level, which is like a one-on-one type service, so that you think about the way that a knowledge business is built out. That structure is actually quite common. I'm sure a lot of the authors and listeners to the podcast are kind of going, "Yeah. I can understand that."
If you talk exactly what you were saying, you might chisel away let's say the do-it-yourself type option, and that becomes your lowest cost option because there's less support, it's more self-driven, but it's also much more scalable. It's a great addition to any business and can be a great downsell.
If someone can't afford your highest level one-on-one services, well, okay, well, we've got another option. It's a bit more of a do-it-yourself and you follow an online program. That is a great way to do exactly what you're talking about.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. David, I know that our listeners are like systems are in their mind. It's going to be like an earworm.
David Jenyns: Yes.
Susan Friedmann: They're constantly hearing that word. How can they find out more about you or the book? Tell us where they can find you.
David Jenyns: Yes. Yeah.
Susan Friedmann: And the book.
David Jenyns: The easiest place, I mean, you can head to systemology.com. That's our website, or just head over to Amazon, get yourself a copy of the book there. Obviously, if you're listening to the podcast, you might be someone who likes audio and there is the audio version. It's on Audible. You'll find that through Amazon as well. It's SYSTEMology and that's really a great place to get started.
It'll help you to understand the seven-step process that we have for systemizing a business. Like it's the system for systemizing a business. We really just touched on step number one today, which was, well, where do I get started? Then we need to think about where the team or where the knowledge currently resides. We think about how to extract that out of someone's brain.
How do we get your team on board? Where do we store that knowledge? How do we scale that? There's a handful of things really that the book covers. That's yeah, over on Amazon is the best place.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. David, I omitted to tell you that we always end off the podcast by asking our guests for a golden nugget. Those final words of wisdom. Asking you that, what would you like to leave our listeners with?
David Jenyns: As long as we lit that fire in you around, "Ooh, I can see systems are important. I'm going to give this another look." Just because you might not see yourself as a systems person doesn't mean that you can't own a systems-driven business. I want you to know it is possible for you to build something that works beyond you without key person dependency.
Hopefully, you've got some ideas about that today. Then if it's something that you're like, "Ooh, I'd love to explore it more." Then you can definitely check out the book.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. I sincerely hope that it sparked some ideas you can use to sell more book. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.
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