Photo courtesy of WP Elevation and David Jenyns
David Jenyns, Melbourne SEO and Melbourne Video Services
In this episode number 27 of the InnovaBuzz podcast, David Jenyns of Melbourne SEO and Melbourne Video Services shares with us his philosophy of creating systems and processes within his businesses, to free his time to be more innovative and to have the business functioning without him. Listen to the podcast episode to find out the details.
Today’s competition prize has been generously donated by David and it is a six month complimentary subscription to SystemHUB which is a “home” for your business’ processes, checklists and smart operating procedures, so stick around for details on how you can enter the draw to win that competition prize later on in the interview.
Listen to the Podcast
By freeing myself up, it gave me more space to think which then enabled me to operate more strategically as we’re growing the business.
Some of the highlights of this episode include:
- The way you do what you do, is the most valuable asset in your business!
- You can get really emotional when time and money is linked into something. If you’ve done all the pre-thinking before and you’ve got a plan, it makes it much easier to just follow the plan and replicate positive results.
- All businesses are founded on systems and processes and if you can figure out what makes a business tick, then document those processes, you can get other team members to step in and take over.
- The big thing about systems is making sure they’re uniform and they have a set flow and structure so that when any team member starts, every system they just get because it follows the standard setup for your systems. Once you get that structure, you want all your systems to follow that process, it makes logical sense that you create a system to create systems. If you start with that system first, it makes it very easy for you to share with other team members and make sure that they all follow the same process.
All my businesses were founded on this idea of systems and processes. I’m very good at figuring out what makes a business tick and then documenting those processes so that other team members can step in.
The Buzz – Our Innovation Round
Here are David’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Watch the interview to get the full scoop.
- #1 thing to be more innovative – Create space by freeing yourself of repetitive decisions and activities.
- Best thing for new ideas – Solve our own biggest problems, which are often other business’ problems as well, so we can help other businesses too
- Favourite tool for innovation – Get things out of your head and write them down – on paper or an online system (like SystemHUB)
- Keep project / client on track – A good project management system together with weekly updates for clients.
- Differentiate – Build your personal brand and deliver a great product – do what you do better than anyone else.
To Be More Innovative and Productive
Cultivate focus and become very good at having a single focus point at any one point in time. If you’re working on a particular something, a part of your business, try and turn a lot of the other areas off as you really focus in on that.s.
David suggested I interview Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth” on a future podcast. So, Michael, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of David Jenyns!
Click to Read…
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 27 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation and the Internet of Things become even more innovative.
Today’s guest is David Jenyns from Melbourne SEO Services and Melbourne Video Productions.
David has been an entrepreneur from a very young age, beginning with trading on the stock markets when he was still at school. Through starting and running several businesses he has learnt that systemising as much as possible in the business can free up time and allow creative space to be much more strategic in the business, as well as add value to the business, because the business can run independently of which people actually do the various roles and processes. We spoke today about things as diverse as selling the MCG, one of Australia’s biggest sporting arenas, to how a business can build processes within their business in an effective and efficient way. This is another fascinating interview, so stay tuned.
This podcast is sponsored by Innovabiz, where we help smart, innovative growth focused business owners grow their business by making their websites achieve more. Of course, at Innovabiz, we do more than just build websites – we provide solutions to our clients’ needs by leveraging the power of the internet in innovative ways. If you want to learn more, then go to innovabiz.com.au or contact me directly through the contact information there.
Now, let’s get into the Innovation Hive and get the Buzz from David Jenyns.
Jürgen: Hi I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. I’m really excited to have here with me today on today’s episode of the Innovabiz podcast, from Melbourne in Australia, David Jenyns of Melbourne SEO Services and Melbourne Video Productions. David, welcome, it’s a privilege to have you on the podcast.
David: Thank you Jürgen. Really looking forward to this podcast episode.
Jürgen: David has a fascinating background. We’ll hear a little bit more about that. He is a serial entrepreneur. I’m really excited to have him here because we’re going to explore a lot about what drives him, and how he builds those serial entrepreneurial initiatives into working businesses. Looking forward to hear about that.
Before we talk to David about all those things, a quick competition announcement. David’s very kindly offered to sponsor a six months free access to a program called SystemHUB which we’ll learn a lot more about on today’s episode. Stay tuned later on in the episode to find out how you can enter the draw to win that competition.
David, before we start talking about internet marketing, and building businesses, and systems, and all that kind of stuff, let’s find out a little bit more about you as a person. Tell us when you were a child what did you actually have as the thing that you wanted to do when you grew up?
David: The very first memory that I have was to be a chef. I don’t know where it came from, but I always enjoyed cooking. I think it was the creative side in me. I think cooking is really creative and I just enjoyed making people happy.
Jürgen: Were you cooking as a kid?
David: Yeah. I used to love cooking for the family. It’s something that I’ve probably not really kept up with and feel like I’ve deviated in a very different direction but that’s definitely where I first thought I’d grow into.
Jürgen: When did you decide that wasn’t what you’re going to do as a profession?
David: I think probably when I was leaving school. I think in my final year, year 12 that’s when I started to think, “What am I going to do now?” I really wanted to just make a whole bunch of money, so I thought I’d go where the money was which I thought was the stock market. I kind of headed in a very different direction.
Jürgen: Well that’s a fascinating story because I also played a little bit in the trading game. Tell us a little bit about that.
David: I think I was in year 12 and a friend of mine … We were sitting in Maths class at the back of the room and he was telling me how much money he was making while we’re sitting in the room because … That was back in ninety-nine. There was the boom at that point. That’s right … Dot-com bubble and I hear he was riding it on the way up and thought, “This thing is a little bit too good to be true.” Obviously he was just telling me about all of these winners and not necessarily the losers.
When I came to the end I thought, “Why am I going to go to University for the next four years, six years to learn something and then I only finally make money perhaps after that?” That’s when I really got interested in the stock market.
Jürgen: You then did some study in that area and become a full time trader if I remember rightly.
David: Yeah. I was working at a supermarket at the time, stacking shelves and living with my mom in a two bed roomed flat. I took out a five thousand dollar loan and did one of those weekend share trading courses where they teach you to make a million dollars over a weekend. I very quickly learned that to trade on the stock market, you also needed to have some money, and there I was just stacking shelves trying to pay back that loan.
That’s when I recognized, well hang on, trading is a fantastic vehicle for growing wealth but you still need to have a base, and that kind of brought me back to ground zero I suppose. I thought about, “How can I find a product that I can sell that people would be interesting in buying?” That was kind of my stepping stone into marketing and heading a bit more down that entrepreneurial avenue.
Jürgen: One of the things I’m sure with trading, because trading … You’ve got to have a good system. I’m sure that that was … If you hadn’t already gone down that track, that was one area where you started to develop systems for doing things.
David: Exactly right. That’s probably where my first programming came from around the importance of systems. Looking at trading systems, they work almost like a business plan, but its a plan for the way that you trade the market. You do all the thinking upfront and you have a predefined set of rules that define when you get in, when you get out, what position size do you take. You do all that thinking upfront so that when you are in the moment your emotions don’t take over.
Jürgen: That’s right. That’s the danger zone.
David: That’s the biggest thing with trading and business. You can get really emotional when time and money is linked into something. If you’ve done all the pre-thinking before and you’ve got a plan, it makes it much easier to just follow the plan and replicate positive results.
Jürgen: I know you then started a couple of little ventures while you were still working at the supermarket as well as doing the share trading. Tell us a little bit about the journey.
David: While I was stacking those shelves, that’s really when my entrepreneurial juices started to get going. I did sort of start learning as much as I could about the stock market and started reading as many different books as I could. I happened to read a book by a gentleman who’s telling a story about a guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge in the US.
Basically what he did was … The Brooklyn Bridge was getting renovated and he got all the discarded wood, chopped it up into pieces, and then sold it off as memorabilia for the Brooklyn Bridge. At the time I was reading this story, and the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), very well known sporting stadium here in Australia was getting renovated on the Ponsford Stand. I effectively replicated that Brooklyn Bridge story. I got a lot of the discarded wood and sold off the MCG!
Since then that was probably my first leg up into that serial entrepreneur journey. I started getting involved in a lot of different things. After doing the stock market education stuff and recognizing that I needed to actually have some money to trade the stock market, a friend and I got together and we wrote a home study course on a particular charting package that our trading community was using.
That was the first product that we sold and got really good reception within our immediate community, but then beyond that, I wanted to get the message out further. That’s when I suppose I picked a bit of a passion for marketing and online marketing, long form sales copy, all of those sort of ways to have a great product and then get the message out there.
Over the years, it just really evolved. When I look back and I look at the different projects that we worked on from a distance, I feel a little bit disjointed. I see this logical progression because after the stock market education stuff then I built up a good team and a very good skill set around online marketing. That’s when we setup Melbourne SEO Services and more recently, Melbourne Video Production which was basically off the back of all of the different marketing techniques and strategies that we’d used in that stock market niche. It’s kind of like this evolution.
Most recently, which is what you referenced at the start was with SystemHUB. That’s one element that I’ve now recognized looking back across all of the business I’ve been involved in because I just named a few there. We had the rock and roll, clothing, music store in there as well, but all of them were founded on this idea of systems and processes. I’m very good at figuring out what makes a business tick and then documenting those processes so that other team members can kind of step in.
We had very big breakthrough with Melbourne SEO Services and Melbourne Video Production where we completely systemized what we have done and brought in some team members, which really helped to free me up from the day to day operations so I could start to work on the business rather than in the business. That’s what’s gotten me so excited now about what we’re doing with SystemHUB which is a way for businesses to basically document their standard operating procedures.
Jürgen: That’s a really interesting story. I think one of the things … We’ll get back to SystemHUB in a moment, but I think one of the really interesting things for me is looking at business whether its trading the stock market, or whether it’s even stacking products on a supermarket shelf, you’re probably systemizing that. I know when I was at the university I was working in … actually I was with paint storage.
We were stacking stuff in their warehouse ready for dispatch. They had this … It was all paper in those days. You had all these paper forms and slips that had to be handed off and signed. I very quickly figured out what’s that system, and how can you maximize the time because we were on a bonus system so that the more you did the more you got paid. I very quickly figured out that it wasn’t about working harder, it was about figuring out how the system worked and working the system.
Essentially that’s what you’ve done here, isn’t it? You’ve kind of taken the core systems that drive the business and said, “That can be transferred into another business.” You’ve built up several and now you’re taking that and saying, “You can help people systemize their businesses well and document things properly,” which is where SystemHUB is.
David: There are a few core processes and procedures that all businesses operate on no matter what industry that they are in. Initially I got really strong with our marketing systems and the way that we’d market a business online, and over time there are other areas that have kind of popped up. We’ve been really strong with the way that we recruit staff as well. We’ve got a particular system, we follow through recruitment and onboarding of both clients and staff as well, and some financial systems as well with my stock market background.
I kind of just over the years started collecting the best of the best of these systems and then almost putting them into a database. When I’m working on a business, we try and identify which parts of the business are broken or need most attention, and you apply a system to that area to solve the problem, and then you just walk your way down, putting out the fires and putting a system in place.
Just like you rightly spotted earlier, the good thing about a system like … Once you figure out the way that the system works, and you’re conscious of trying to improve it, everything only seems to get more and more optimized. Step one is just getting something done and that gives you the visibility to know what’s going on in some form of measurement, and then if the aim of the game is work, how do we get the best output by doing this process? You just continually optimize and improve. It’s been a really interesting journey to date.
Jürgen: Tell us a little bit then about SystemHUB and what makes it different to something else where people might document systems?
David: When we recognized that systems was so important, we started using some different tools to try and capture them. We used Dropbox. That was probably one of the more well known ones. We just saved our systems in word documents, and text files and saved them into Dropbox. We quickly came against some different challenges with that, with regards to things like permissions: who could see what, and who could edit what, and accidentally deleting or uploading things that they shouldn’t.
We started going, “okay – If that’s not going to work, let’s try something like Google Apps,” which we tried for a little while there, which didn’t really solve our problem because we needed a central place to store all of these systems. We needed team members to only see the systems that were relevant to them. Someone in marketing didn’t necessarily need to see all of the financial systems and certain people would have certain levels of access, like some people should just be able to view while others should be able to improve or change systems and edit them.
When we looked at Google Apps and looked at Google sites, one of the biggest problems was it wasn’t designed specifically for this purpose. It’s almost like you were trying hack together a system to do a specific function that wasn’t necessarily designed to do that. We tried a few others and just couldn’t find a solution that enabled us to house a business’ standard operating procedures in one place, make it very easy to use and have it easy control the access for what people could see. That’s why we ended up basically designing our own and that’s what SystemHUB is today.
Jürgen: Having played with it a little bit … I’m one of beta-testers. It’s certainly is a very exciting development. Tell us a little bit about, because you kind of started off with a system for developing systems or processes. I find that fascinating because a lot of people maybe haven’t embraced this yet. I remember when I was in the corporate world, in a research department, a lot of people there said, “No, you can’t have a system or a process for doing research because it’s a creative process.” We actually developed one!
I was always saying to people, “Whether you have a system or not, or a process or not, you actually do have process.” It’s just whether its broken or not because you’re doing things and there are certain steps you take in sequence. Tell us a little bit about the process or system for writing systems or processes.
David: Well that ends up being the first system that any business should put in place. The big thing about system is making sure they’re uniform and they have a set flow and structure so that when any team member starts, every system they kind of just get because it follows the process of having an over view that explains what the system is about then having the main bullet points listed out of what needs to be done to do a particular task.
Underneath those bullets you might have some sub-bullets that give very specifics about each step, so just the way that structure is setup. At the end of a system you might have some sort of review process that gets the person doing the task to be able to go, “Have I actually achieved and met what the objectives or the output that this system should be creating?”
Once you kind of get that structure, and you want all your systems to follow that process, it makes logical sense that you create a system to create systems. If you start with that system first, it makes it very easy for you to share with other team members and make sure that they all follow the same process. I think that’s why it’s sort of the most important system that you can have in place.
As a business owner, a lot of business owners get stuck in the day to day and they find it hard to find the space to create systems, whereas by using a system for systems, and if that’s the first system you put in place, it makes it much easier to delegate certain responsibilities of development of systems down the line to different team members knowing that they’re going to follow a process for the way that they develop those processes if that makes sense.
Jürgen: I remember … I’m not sure, I think you were one of the people that suggested this and I started doing it fairly early on.
David: There we go. Sorry, dropped out for a second there.
Jürgen: You were one of the people that I think suggested this to me fairly early on in my business. I started doing screen cast videos of certain things that I setup and basically used that as the basis for the processes. The idea, and I love the idea … I think you mentioned this at the seminar recently where we’re at… of, how can I do this so I don’t have to do it again or words to that effect?
David: I think posting that underneath your laptop, if I’m going to doing something, how can I make sure this is the last that I ever have to do it? Sticking it on your laptop or next to your monitor, just gets you to constantly think about recording what it is that you’re doing. The easiest way to do it so that it doesn’t disrupt your flow is just while you’re doing the task using something like ScreenFlow or a Camtasia depending on if you’re on a Mac or a PC and just record yourself doing the task, then that becomes version one of the system.
You upload that into SystemHUB or however you’re documenting your systems and then you assign to a team member to follow the system for systems and bullet point out the main steps in the process that you’ve identified in the video. It’s a really good way to kind of free up and make sure that you can document your systems without necessarily having to do it yourself.
Jürgen: That’s right. What I really like about SystemHUB is that there is a kind of a social element to it. One of the things in that whole process that you’ve described then is getting somebody else to do the process and now then say, “This bit doesn’t make sense,” because you’ve made a logical jump in your mind and you haven’t actually documented or recorded that on the video.
They’ll point that out and they’ll say, “This bit doesn’t make sense or I don’t understand how I get from C to D.” Within SystemHUB, there is the ability to actually suggest improvements and even vote on improvements and so on.
David: I think the biggest thing … I’m just going to jump into another room here. One of the biggest things with systems and we get the most benefit from systems is where they improve. A lot of people, if they have decided the idea that systems are important and they might have even their business, usually there might be one or two team members that are driving that initiative and they are the only ones that understand how to do the tool or suggest system improvements.
Where systems really come alive is when it becomes part of the culture and other team members help with the improvement of systems as they are doing it because processes, and procedures, and ways to optimize change as different tools change. As people do things they figure out better ways to do it. If you enable them to improve it as they go, you look back, you get the basic processes and procedures down and then you might look back in three years time once things have been continually optimized and improved, and then you’ve really developed an effective way to do a particular task.
Jürgen: That helps also with building and maintaining best practice. Like you say, as technology evolves and people learn new skills, you can upgrade the systems as well.
David: That’s the most valuable asset within a business, is the way that you do things. When you’re valuing a business, looking to sell a business, or gain funds, if you have the documented processes and procedures, the eleven secret herbs and spices, the way that you do, what it is that you do that’s where the value is. It means that you can continue to deliver value to your clients whether you are there or not because team members are just following the process to deliver value.
Jürgen: It frees up the business owner’s time to do whatever they want to do. For example, I took June off and had a holiday, and essentially let the business run itself which worked okay. Even though I wouldn’t say our systems are perfect, it worked quite well, and like you say the ultimate one is to actually sell the business.
David: I think even taking that break, that is a fantastic way to also spot areas that need to be developed, because you come back and you realize where the fire started at.
Jürgen: Where it’s broken down.
David: The best thing to do then is you just address the system. It’s a good mindset shift as a business owner to basically put all of the responsibilities back on the system. If an issues arises, it’s not the fault of a team member or something like that, it always comes back to the system. Unless you have a system in place and the team members haven’t been following it then that’s another issue, but assuming that you’ve got good team members that at least follow the process, any mistake that you ever have, you just think of it in terms of, “This will be last time we have that mistake because we’ll improve the system and it won’t happen again.”
It’s reassuring for the rest of the team as well because it lets them know how to deliver a great product and service, and have something that they can reference so that they know how to deliver to that standard.
Jürgen: That’s good advice. What do you spend your time on actually doing day to day then? You’ve got all these businesses running on systems and you’re telling me before we started the podcast recording that you’re really busy.
David: I know it could be freeing me up to lay on the beaches, but I find in business it’s a vacuum situation where if you create space in something, it tends to get filled with something else. As the business owner where I say I add the most value is carving out new initiatives for the business and spearheading new projects, and thinking about where we’re headed. These are a few things I’ll get involved in. I see staff recruitment as a very important role for me because I want to make sure we’re getting the right team members, so I still play a hand in that.
By not being involved in the day to day operations as much with, let’s say Melbourne SEO or Melbourne Video, that’s what freed me up then to have a look at starting something like SystemHUB. We’re looking at … I’ve got a book that I’m coming out with in the not too distant future. It gets me working on new initiatives that really need to … I need to pave the way first and then the team members can step in behind me. I think that’s what I do as the CEO, is really kind of figure out which direction that we’re headed and make the strategic thinking.
Sometimes when you’re just doing the day to day and recording everything, it’s very hard to get visibility to make those right decisions. I think that was another good thing I found. By freeing myself up, it gave me more space to think which then enabled me to operate more strategically as we’re growing the business.
Jürgen: Again, that’s a great benefit to be able to have systems in place that allow you step out and take that big picture of you and make the time to do that. A book coming out soon, that’s exciting. What’s it going to be about?
David: I’ve got two books in me that I know of. The first book is around documenting effectively what we did for our marketing strategy. Our marketing strategy is a method we call authority content and I’m obviously very particular with systems. It’s the same marketing strategy that we’ve used to launch probably the last three or four different businesses. We’ve really honed it down and now I’m turning that methodology into a book.
The other book that I’m just starting to work on is a book around systems because I think kind of just getting to thinking around the way that we apply the systems, because now that we’re in it and we’ve done it, I need to almost look back and think logically. What was the first step we took in applying these systems, and trying to effectively create a system for applying systems.
Jürgen: It sounds like you’re really busy with a whole lot of other things, but the business … Is it running along nicely? Is there something that worries you and keeps you awake at night?
David: The biggest thing keeping me awake right now is our nine-month-old baby. The other thing that keeps me awake really … The main thing with the business is its team members. As I’ve built the team or built the business, I’ve recognized that the most important thing are the team members that you have around you. There are not enough hours in the day for you to do everything. You have to build the team to help you execute, which has made me very conscious about those team members.
I find if anything I’m thinking about what’s going on in their world? How can help that and also give them a really good enjoyable work environment? That’s kind of usually what keeps me awake: – the baby, or team.
Jürgen: The baby will be fun, but I guess not at night.
David: No. It’s just-
Jürgen: You make allowances, right?
David: That was one of the big drivers for trying to systemize the business because I don’t want to be the dad that works 60 hour a week and isn’t there to spend time with the family. That’s been a big driver.
Jürgen: That will reward you over time I’m sure. What do you say is the biggest challenge in the business? Is it the people thing, and the staff?
David: Yeah. I think, as we’ve been building the business, there’ve been different challenges at each step. I think that no matter what stage you’re at in your business career there is different quality of challenges. Everything from … Before doing the system thing, it was about … I really was the bottle neck and there was so much work to be done. I think a constant challenge for me as I transition, is finding that work-life balance. That’s a big one. I think a lot of entrepreneurs face that because it’s important to live right now. You also have to work quite hard to get a business up and running at least up to a certain point when it can start to work for itself.
Finding that balance is still always a big challenge. Personally for the business, because we’ve got very good system for generating leads, we are finding there is only a couple of the team members that are dealing with the leads as they come in. We’re finding if someone is ready to go right now, we can attend to them. Sometimes some leads need to be contacted numerous times over a long period. That’s an area that is a bit of a challenge for us. It’s something we’ve just actually recruited for. We have got someone to kind of step in and try and help solve that problem.
Business is fun because there are just so many different challenges along the way. It’s just part of the game.
Jürgen: Tell us a little bit about authority content because this is a little “pet horse” of mine. Back in nineteen ninety seven, in the big corporate world, this was the first website I was involved in. We built a website. I don’t know where the term came from, but at that time we talked about authority and an authority website. We were in a B to B game, but we felt that the consumer who bought the products, where our products ended up in were making decisions that were bad decisions. Therefore our high quality products were kind of not being used where they should have been used.
The idea was to educate the consumer on what constituted high quality in the end products so that they would be more inclined to purchase the better quality products for particular applications. That was the whole idea around that website. It was a whole education thing and we ended up starting to use videos and all kinds of stuff that was around at the time. We were doing search engine optimization using Yahoo because Google didn’t exist in those days so it was fun.
I was fascinated that … I’ve followed that along with search engine optimization. I haven’t gone down this sort of short term fixes route that some people do. I was fascinated that this term authority content now has really taken off everywhere.
David: So you are one of the early pioneers in this type of marketing! Content marketing is an idea that’s been around for years and years. There used to be farmers who … I can’t even remember the name, the company. I remember researching it on Wikipedia where they had a guide to sell farming equipment but they were helping educate people on how to farm better.
It was a form of content marketing. Where I see what we call authority content is where content marketing meets really good SEO, because there is a lot of great content marketers out there that just think if you build it, they will come and they put out great quality content with no real thought as to how the message will get seen.
On the flip side there is a lot of SEOs that just put out very low quality content, nothing that’s very engaging. They SEO the heck out of it just for the sake of trying to game the search engine, get a back link. That healthy spot which … It sounds like you had found those many years ago, that balance we call authority content and it’s about what’s the best way that you can batch, create high quality content then optimize it, chop it up into bits and then syndicate it around the web.
Similar to you we did it when I was in the stock market education niche. We took one of our early video courses, chopped it up into bits, loaded into YouTube and transcribed it, and turned it into articles. It’s this whole re-purposing thing that’s become quite popular now. We’ve got some sort of examples of when we were doing it. I’d say very, very early two thousands and now that’s kind of evolved into what it is. We’ve really been pioneers in that space around the documentation of it and turning it into a system because I suppose that’s where a big part of my expertise is now.
From a business perspective I notice where I add the most value. Typically speaking is where I’ve got areas of expertise in multiple different industries, and where those industries, where I can have those intersect and I can bring thinking from one industry to another. That’s where I add the most value. That’s systems thinking with the marketing thinking, and now the systems thinking with my understanding of business. That’s really where we are starting to see the magic, where they set the circles into collide.
Jürgen: You’ve been very generous with your time so it might be time to move to the Buzz as we call it, which is our innovation round designed to help our audience, primarily innovators and leaders in their field, learn more ways to be innovative – so hopefully we can give them some great tips from your experience. I’m going to ask you five questions and hopefully you’ll have some really insightful answers for us.
Jürgen: What’s the number one thing you think anyone needs to do to be more innovative?
David: Biggest thing is to create space. To be innovative you have to be able to give your mind space to think. I’m always thinking about how can I reduce the number of decisions that I have to make or thinking about or provide input on which then gives me space to then start to think about solutions and be innovative.
Jürgen: That’s great advice. I think you said something to that effect at the recent seminar that I was at and I made a note of that. I said, “To be more creative, build systems to free us for you mind,” something like that. It’s great advice. What’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas and products?
David: The way that we do it is by solving problems that we have. I know sometimes people think in terms of, think about your target market, think about the problems that they have and then create a product or service to solve that. We’ve almost done it as though we are the target market and we have the problem.
We look internally in the business, see areas that we’re struggling with and then try and innovate to solve our own problems. Often times by doing that, we find that other people face the same problems, and that’s exactly how we’ve developed SystemHUB because we couldn’t find a solution. Developed it and now recognize that we are not only solving our own problems, we are solving other businesses’ problems who are already at a similar sort of spot in their development.
Jürgen: That’s a fascinating approach to take because a lot of people … Probably every business has problems that they solve for themselves. I guess it comes back to, if you document it then all of a sudden you’ve actually got something that maybe a product because other people will have had that same problem.
David: Exactly right.
Jürgen: The next one, what’s your favorite tool or system for improving productivity and allowing you to be more innovative? You can say SystemHUB obviously!
David: SystemHUB.com. I’d rather say SystemHUB or just say a pen and paper. I’m big on my journals and getting things out of mind and writing things down. It comes from that whole Getting Things Done philosophy. Once you get them out of your head, it creates that space. I think writing things out and just getting them out of your head is probably one of the best ways to innovate. Sometimes when you see things written down, the solution becomes a lot more obvious.
Jürgen: That’s right. Although I find what you’re saying before the vacuum principle takes part there, I’m often awake at night thinking of various things, and then I’ll write stuff down thinking, “If I can clear my mind, I’ll get back to sleep.” What happens is that all of a sudden other thoughts take over.
David: I know that feeling.
Jürgen: What’s the best way you know to keep a project or a client on track?
David: We manage things. There are a lot of different project management tools out there. We use one called Asana but there is like Basecamp, and Teamwork PM, and Podio. I think, it doesn’t really matter what platform that you use as long as you’ve got something in place. Some of sort project management tool, cloud based for your team would try and keep a project on track. For keeping the clients on track, the big things that we do is weekly updates.
I think it’s something that we get a lot of feedback on from clients and a lot of other companies have trouble trying to emulate and replicate it just because either they are not doing anything for the client, or it’s hard for them to report on a weekly basis, or they just can’t do it from an admin point of view. We find letting the clients know what we are doing and keeping them updated is fantastic for keeping them engaged and sticking around and seeing the value that we offer.
Jürgen: That’s great advice. Also probably takes a way little bit from being as reactive to clients coming back and saying, “Can we get this done quickly or something?” Because they know you’re on top of things, and it’s moving forward, and it’s controlled organized and in a system. What’s the number one thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?
David: I think the biggest thing is to build up your personal brand. I know there is a point where you want the business to not be so tied into the individual and that way you can effectively sell it, and it’s not built off the individual’s persons brand. I think up to a point, to grow a business up to a certain size I think you get a real benefit from adding in your personal branding. Even if you look at someone like Richard Branson where now he’s got his individual business units and the Virgin brand, he’s still very much a personality that’s involved in the DNA and it flows throughout all of the companies.
That’s the best differentiator because there is no one else quite like you in the way that you present yourself. If you can hit that route it’s a really effective way to differentiate yourself. Sometimes just a good way to differentiate yourself from the competition as well is just to deliver a great product and do what you do better than anyone else. That can be a really great differentiator.
Jürgen: That’s right. It’s sad that it is that, but that’s reality. What’s the future for you then? You’ve talked about a couple of books coming up. What about other things that you’ve got planned?
David: Two or three moves ahead. We’ve developed quite a large database of these processes and procedures that are directly applicable for any business. Where I’d like to head is in that sort of venture capital area, to be able to buy businesses, invest in businesses and, come in and very quickly add the value that I can add which is systems and processes in the way for running a business. A lot of entrepreneurs particularly when they first get started out they’ll just focus in on the sexy stuff which might be the marketing. Marketing is a really fun and interesting place to focus, but if you don’t have your financial systems, if you don’t have your recruitment systems, if you don’t have your delivery systems everything falls over.
For us it will be further honing those systems over the next couple of years and building out what we’re doing with SystemHUB, and then ultimately finding great products and services in businesses that just aren’t run very well, and the coming in and kind of adding the missing ingredient.
Jürgen: That certainly sounds really exciting. One of the things that we often talk about in this podcast is the Internet of Things and I guess there is a good segue here if you have systems that could potentially be automated through software or something. How do you see that fit in with what’s happening with the Internet of Things?
David: That’s going to be huge trend with the Internet of Things where particularly around this automation side of things. I think we’re already seeing it with market places like the iTunes Store and the Android Store. Apple TV has just launched their latest iteration with it. They’ve got a market place on the backend of it. I think that’s where you’ll see most of the exciting innovation.
It’s having the technology there but then having all the people across world thinking about new and exciting ways to use different pieces of equipment, and then programming them to do what they’d like in new and innovative ways that not even the creator of the equipment could have thought of. I think that’s where the most exciting area comes, is where having an Internet of Things opens everything up and it allows things to talk to other things and then with that creative thought of how to use them. I think we’ll just see a pickup in innovation and that automation just by opening the landscape up a little bit.
Jürgen: That’s terrific David. It’s been really great. Let’s get back to the competition. We’ve said that David has very kindly offered a six months free trial of SystemHUB for somebody to actually look at. It’s got a lot of the systems that David has developed. You’ve got the ability of course to setup your own systems within that. What do we want people to do? What would you like to learn from people to go to that competition David?
David: I’ve not given this too much thought but thinking about it now, it would be interesting may be to get people to just write down what it would mean to them and what they would spend their time focusing on if they weren’t in the day to day business, like in day to day operations. We might say something like, I don’t know, a hundred words or a hundred and fifty words, what would spend your time on if you weren’t doing the day to day operations inside your business, because that’s really what systems do.
Perhaps someone who’s got a really big vision of what they’d like to be doing and then we could award the price to the person who has a clear idea on what they’d do.
Jürgen: That’s sounds terrific. Leave comments under the blog post and tell David what would it mean to you and your business and your life if you weren’t stuck in the day to day stuff so much, and what you would do with that time that was freed up. I’ll get David to swing by in a few weeks time and award that prize.
Jürgen: Finally then what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in their field: in innovation, productivity, and whatever specialty they are in?
David: The one piece of advice I’ve got would be to just cultivate focus and become very good at having a single focus point at any one point in time. If you’re working on a particular something, a part of your business, try and turn a lot of the other areas off as you really focus in on that. You might determine systems, they’re really important for my business. Well make that focus for three months.
Of course other things are going to pop up, but it’s very easy in the digital landscape to get distracted by different things and you’ll start to think that some things are more important than others. You need to find out what those few important big rocks are and focus on those.
Jürgen: That’s great advice. Focus on what you think is most important, and of course that means you have to identify what is most important and what’s going to be most valuable for your business right now.
Jürgen: David, well thank you for your time today and all the insights you’ve shared us. It’s been really great. Where can people reach out to you and say thank you?
David: Probably the best thing would be on Twitter. If you’re into Twitter.com/DavidJenyns, D-A-V-I-D, and then my surname J-E-N-Y-N-S or we can just check out some of our different websites like SystemHUB.com or MelbourneSEOServices.com. They’re probably good ways to see what we’re up to.
Jürgen: We’ll have links to all of those pages underneath the blog post as well. Finally, I always ask guests this. Who would you like me to interview on future InnovaBuzz podcast and why?
David: I think it would be great if you could get someone like Michael Gerber. I know we’re talking about systems and he’s kind of like the grandfather of systemization, with his book The E-Myth. If you could get him on, I think he’d provide some really great insights and hopefully get some more people excited by the idea of getting into their business.
Jürgen: That would be an awesome guest. Michael Gerber, you’re probably not listening to this but keep an eye on your inbox courtesy of David Jenyns. We’ll be coming to invite you to an episode of the InnovaBuzz podcast and we’ll see how we can do that. Thanks a lot David. Again thanks for sharing your time and your insights with us today. It’s been really fascinating talking to you and learning a lot more about your background and history and how you’ve taken the idea of systems to build a lot of different businesses that might on the surface be unrelated but are actually quite closely related.
I’ve really enjoyed it today and I’ve learned a lot. All the best for the future and we’ll keep in touch obviously through the SystemHUB and also other stuff hopefully.
David: Thank you Jürgen. We’ll talk to you soon.
Jürgen: Thanks David.
Well I hope you enjoyed meeting David as much as I enjoyed interviewing him. I hope also that David’s story and journey has highlighted the importance of systems and processes for you and perhaps inspired you to look closely at your own systems and processes to find out if they are in good shape. As David said, having good systems and processes in place, give you, the business owner, creative space to work ON the business.
All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/davidjenyns, that is D-A-V-I-D-J-E-N-Y-N-S, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/davidjenyns, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .
David suggested I interview Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth” on a future podcast. So, Michael, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of David Jenyns!
Thank you for listening to the InnovaBuzz podcast. We’d love you to review this podcast, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve. You can review us at iTunes or Stitcher and while you’re there, please subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.
Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.
Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!