InnovaBuzz Episode #36 – Systems and Processes with Troy Dean and David Jenyns

David-Jenyns

Systems and Processes with Troy Dean and David Jenyns

In this episode number 36  of the InnovaBuzz podcast,  I’m live in a recording studio with Troy Dean of WP Elevation and David Jenyns of Melbourne SEO Services and Video Productions. We talk about the importance of systems and processes to every business. Both Troy and David have been on previous podcasts (Episode 12 and Episode 27 respectively), where we learnt about their businesses and their journeys. Today, we learn from two champions of having robust systems and processes in a business.

Listen to the Podcast

Processes and systems allow you to streamline and deliver your service to the customer at a competitive price point and still keep the business profitable. 

Troy Dean

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • Systems and processes enable people to extract themselves from the day-to-day repeatable operations in the business and focus on adding value.
  • It’s important to have a champion in the business for systems and processes, to keep the momentum and to drive the culture of systems and processes in the business.  Whilst most business owners know they need systems, they are often too busy working in the business to make time working on systems and processes.
  • You wouldn’t hire humans to push buttons and do unintelligent tasks.  You use systems and automation technology and processes to make sure that happens. You hire humans to be creative.
  • Being clear about your business vision is critical.  Part of that is a specific outcome and systems will make it much easier to achieve the desired result.
  • If the team understands that each of them should be spending their time having fun doing what they’re good at and what they enjoy in the business, and to get there the systems and processes need to be done and in place.
  • A good process has a clearly defined outcome – it’s easy to check a few things, if they are in place, the the process is done.
  • Having your own business has massive benefits, and you want to enjoy your time as much as possible. So systems and processes allow you to take some of your time back so that you can operate in your sweet spot as a business owner and not just put fires out all of the time.

Your whole role is to make yourself redundant in the tasks you are doing! 

David Jenyns

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Troy and David’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Watch the interview to get the full scoop.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – David: need to create space to think.  Troy: you should publish your processes and your systems online – give away your best stuff, that forces you to be innovative.
  • Best thing for new ideas – David: Forcing the business to survive without me gave me time to innovate and think. Troy: Basically surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs, looking outside your business at what others are doing.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – David: I’m using SystemHUB.com.  Troy: For me at the moment it’s dictation software.
  • Keep project / client on track – David: Tell them up front what to expect. Troy: Productize your business so you can sell products to customers and others.
  • Differentiate – Troy: Become a specialist.  David: Then to layer on top of that is for a business owner to lead with their unique personality as well as expertise.

To Be a Leader

David: Be the best example of whatever it is that you want to lead.
Troy: If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, do something else until you find what you ARE passionate about.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank David via SystemHUB.com and Troy at troydean.com.

Suggested Guest

Troy suggested I interview Kerwin Rae, a marketing consultant who is running a Social Experiment currently to revamp his social media presence, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. Whereas David suggested Seth Godin, a leader in innovation and author of so many books, so Kerwin and Seth keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Troy Dean and David Jenyns.

Links

Full Transcript

Click to Read…
Intro:

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 36 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation become even more innovative.

In this episode, I’m live in a recording studio with Troy Dean of WP Elevation and David Jenyns of Melbourne SEO Services and Video Productions.  We talk about the importance of systems and processes to every business.  Both Troy and David have been on previous podcasts (Episode 12 and Episode 27 respectively), where we learnt about their businesses and their journeys.

In today’s episode we explore why businesses need robust and well-documented processes and systems in order to profitably grow their business. We dissect the environment, culture, structure and systems that need to be in place within the business and how to bring everyone on the journey of systems and processes.

This is another great episode with a lot of really valuable advice from two experts.

Let’s get into the Innovation Hive and get the Buzz from Troy and David.

 

Interview

Jürgen:
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and welcome to this episode of the InnovaBuzz Podcast, which is going to be slightly different.  I have my two guests with me today live in a recording studio, which is quite unusual.  Our guests today are Troy Dean from WP Elevation and David Jenyns from Melbourne SEO and Video Productions.  So, welcome guys.

Troy:

Woo!  Thank you; thanks for having us.

David:

Thank you

Jürgen:

So, Troy, tell us about WP Elevation in one sentence.

Troy:

Ah, sure.  WP Elevation is the world’s largest business community for WordPress consultants.

Jürgen:

Excellent.  And David, tell us about Melbourne SEO and Video Productions in one sentence.

David:

Yeah, we help businesses market themselves online.

Jürgen:

Excellent.  That’s great. And as I said, today’s episode is going to be something slightly different.  In  the past I’ve had both Troy and David as guests on the podcast, so if you’re interested in learning more about them and their business, then refer back to that podcast, and I’ll have the links to that in the show notes underneath the episode.

 

So, as I said, we’re going to talk about something different today, and it’s about the importance of systems and processes in a business.  Now David has developed a product called SystemHUB, which I’m sure he’ll tell us a little bit more about later on.  What I’d like to explore is the whole background in terms of why a small business should be developing robust and well-documented processes and systems and how that’s going to help them. So, I’d like to invite … Troy, why don’t you start off one minute on why a small business should have some robust processes and systems.

Troy:

Sure.  Well, you know, as we’ve kind of moved out of manufacturing widgets and we’ve moved into the information economy, a lot of businesses are selling services and a lot of those services are essentially our knowledge and our insights that we’re imparting to clients.  As a business owner or anyone within a business, you can only, there are only so many hours that you can interface with clients. So in the old days, in the manufacturing days, we worked out robots and processes and production lines to remove the humans as much as possible to speed up the manufacturing process to keep the business profitable and also to lower the cost of manufacturing so that we could be competitive in the marketplace. And that’s kind of what we’re doing now in the information economy and in service businesses. So, if you’re providing any kind of service to clients, you need processes and systems so that you, as the business owner or head of a particular department, can remove yourself or as many humans as you can from that process and systemize it and streamline it so that you can deliver your service to the customer at a competitive price point and still keep the business profitable.  And processes that are repeatable and that are predictable, they give you a predictable outcome, are the only way to really deliver that service at that profit point.

Jürgen:

Alright, David, what…

David:

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head.  The biggest thing for me, and being a small business owner, I know what it’s like when you’re stuck on the tools, doing the day-to-day operations and it’s very hard to free yourself from the business.  And systems and processes have been the way that I’ve managed to extract myself from the day-to-day operations. So, really for me, it’s just a way to free the business owner and scale what you’re doing, it’s a way to consistently deliver a product or a service consistently to get the same predictable result. So, that’s… yeah, systems, it’s just required for business to work with that.

Jürgen:

And I was …What was I looking at, something that you’d put out.  Oh, it must’ve been your TED talk, your recent TED talk where you talked about how you came to systems and processes and I’ve heard that story before, so that’s quite fascinating.  So, we’ll a post a link on that, but basically David was educated from a young child to work on systems and processes.

David:

The Sheet. I’m developing The Sheet 2.0

Jürgen:

That’s right.  So, what I’d like to explore a little because, you know, we can put together systems and processes as you’ve described in a small business, and we can get other people running some day-to-day things, but there’s always a challenge getting people on the same page and understanding why, from their point of view, should they be running systems and processes and how is that going to help them do their job better.  So, what I’d like to explore is kind of starting off with the environment. So, in your businesses, what kind of environment do you put in place before you implement systems and processes?

David:

Ah, like from a culture perspective …

Jürgen:

Yeah, yeah…

David:

To get the team to it?  I think the biggest thing for a business owner, they intuitively get the idea that they need systems, but they’re busy, they don’t have enough time in the day just to serve clients, let alone to try and find some time to make a process or system. So I actually think what you need to do is you need to get a champion in the business for systems. It’s quite rare for the business owner to really be the person driving that innovation forward. So, because it really does need to flow through the entire team, either if you get just one team member doing it and they might create some nice manuals and maybe when a new staff member starts some will go through them just once, but they’re never really looked at again. But I think the benefit of a system come from just continually working them, continually chiseling them away until they just get efficient and part of the way that you and the rest of the team do business.  So it starts off first with getting someone within the business who can champion it, then you need to introduce the idea to the rest of the team where they start to take ownership of their processes and procedures. So whoever is working on a particular task should be the first person to try and document it, and then there should always be the ability for them to pass it down the line.  I mean we’ll talk a little bit about some of that methodology around making sure that always more than one person in a business is trained up to do a process and procedure.  But I think in constantly asking the question, there’s really no way around it other than always coming back to the team members, the business owner or that champion of when someone asks a question is that a system, have we built that into the system, where’s the system for that? Can you show me where that’s documented? Like, it’s just a continual process, so to really get it – it has to be part of the business culture. And that’s quite hard for a lot of businesses, and that’s why they find it difficult to transition to a systems methodology because to grow the business to one size, you know, a lot of people get stuck in those habits. And then to go, “No, this is now the way that we do things” can be quite hard.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s right.  And I see that as a challenge because the business owner understands they want to grow, they want to get more leverage, and systems can do that, but what’s the “why” for the individual staff members and how do you bring them onboard.

Troy:

Absolutely and I think if the theory you are about your vision, go back to that cliché about vision, mission, values, but it’s so true.  And in fact the older I get and the more mature I get as a business owner, the more I understand how important vision is and without it none of this stuff can happen without vision. And so if, you know, I’m constantly trying to educate our team about why we’re doing what we’re doing and it’s because we have a metric, we have a number that we’re trying to achieve, which is not actually a revenue number, it’s an engagement number with our customers, and that this system is designed to help us achieve that particular number, and the benefit of us achieving that number is that we have this greater impact on our customers, yes, we will be more profitable, which allows us to hire more people, pour more resources into the business, which allows us to better impact our existing customers or reach a wider audience.  So, constantly reiterating why it’s important to get these systems right, and not just because you don’t want to be here until 7:00 p.m. working, that’s not a big enough reason to get the system off because funny enough my staff are happy to stay until 7:00 p.m. on work because it makes them feel productive. But the reality is if we get these systems right, it will help us achieve the metric. You know, and I don’t think I’ve done that particularly well over the last years, but I’m getting better at it, communicating the why, why this is important, why these systems actually matter to the business.

David:

I want to add something to that as well, linking it down to the individual themselves and letting them know this is how you progress and how you grow.  How you move on from a task is fully systemize it and then pass it down the line. And helping the team to understand that their whole role really is to try and keep making themselves redundant in the tasks that they’re doing, and that’s okay, and passing it down the line to more cost-effective ways to get tasks done. So, it’s really to help them to understand if you want to keep growing and learning, then this is the way that we do it.  You know, keep putting in the systems behind you.

Jürgen:

That’s a really good point.

Troy:

At your event, Nick said, he said this thing that stuck in my head was you use systems to drive the business, and you use humans to be creative. You don’t hire humans to push buttons and do unintelligible tasks.  You use systems and automation technology and processes to make sure that happens, and you hire humans to be creative. And I know we’ve got team members who give them half a day a week of free time will come up with great ideas and creative ways of adding value to the business or serving our customers. But if you don’t have processes in place to help them do their job, they just never get that half a day a week to do that thinking. So, I’m always kind of dangling that carrot with our team, and going you want to spend half a day making some videos or doing something creative, we’ve got to make these systems right to make sure the rest of business is being driven.

Jürgen:

Yeah.  But I take your point that the culture and the vision of the company is a real important one in getting people on board. For me, we’re going through some things right now, and it’s around training, training of what you said Dave in terms of the first step is you learn how to do a particular thing.  The second step then is you teach somebody else to do that. And in order to do that, you have to have it documented so that you can help somebody else do it, and the documentation is the process. So, that’s all built into my ongoing training program, which we still kind of do a training task every month that each of the staff does. So, it’s kind of building that environment as well. It’s hooked in with training as well as, you know, the business processes.

David:

Are you familiar with Bananas in Pyjamas?

Troy:

Yes.

Jürgen:

Yeah.

David:

We have this thing in our business that we call B1 and B2. So for every task there’s always a B1 who is the original originator of the system and then B2 can always do it and backs up. So that way you’ve never got a situation if someone drops off the perch or wants to change out of a position, moves on, whatever the case is, there’s always someone that can step in. And that’s really important for any business.  You just don’t want to be single-source dependent or single anything dependent.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s a great point too because I know it’s a bit of a challenge with a very small business.

Troy:

I don’t know if we’re going to cover this, but I just need to add to that while I remember it. Dave, you taught me the system for creating systems, which is basically to film what you’re doing and then send that to someone who’s good at writing processes. Well, when I adopted that, I didn’t have anyone internally that could write the processes, so I hired a girl in the States to watch my videos and turn them into processes. Now she doesn’t know anything about our business. Now we just rehired her, as we’re going through another growth spurt, we rehired her. And she doesn’t know anything about our business really, she’s a complete outsider. And so what’s happening now is we make videos, we send them to Kristen in the States, and she turns those videos into a process. But because she doesn’t know much about our business, it’s actually forced us to make better videos because we have to explain to a complete outsider how our processes work, and then she’s documenting it and fitting those processes back into the business, and she’s a complete outsider. And that just happened by accident, really. But it’s, yeah, it’s paying off.  I think.

Jürgen:

Yeah.  Well, I tell my team the test of a good process is you can give it to somebody off the street and they can do it.

Troy:

Yeah.

David:

… some level of intelligence, but …

Jürgen:

Alright, so in terms of the structure that needs to be in place then within a small business to get good processes and that, what do you think about that?

Troy:

Yeah, it’s real interesting because, you know, as I said we’re going through a growth spurt now and what we found over the last six weeks is we’ve kind of reached these stalemates and we’ve had to pull back and ask ourselves what’s going wrong, and it’s because we don’t have clear … Because we’re a small business and we’re growing, we don’t have clear delineation between roles, so when you’re a small business, you might have someone doing marketing and someone doing operations, but at some point everyone’s kind of doing a bit of everything just to keep up. And what, and so recently I basically put my business partner in charge of operations because he’s really good at it, even though he doesn’t really enjoy it, and … Because I said to him, we need someone to own processes.  Alright – it’s going to be someone’s job to make sure the processes are right. And so that’s basically when we went and rehired Kristen. And so our structure now is that anyone makes a video, feeds it to Kristen, she makes the processes, but my business partner ultimately is responsible if the process breaks, it’s on his head. Now his job is to train Kristen to become the process queen and to really understand processes, but the ultimate responsibility lies with him and the ultimate responsibility for marketing lies with me, so if we do a launch and it’s a complete failure or we don’t get our expected result, I have to look at what went wrong. But if things aren’t being delivered to our customers and it’s a systems thing, then my hands are off. Whereas previously I would try to dive in and assess the system and fix it, now I deliberately have to put my hands behind my back and say I don’t work in operations anymore, I can’t help you. And I think you really need to have that clear delineation in roles so that someone owns that project. Otherwise there are kind of too many cooks in the kitchen and the broth gets spoiled, so to speak.

David:

Yeah, I think you’re right. And it was almost like that, you know, saying the idea of having a champion in the business who is the systems person, and then you need that thing you touched on before, the system for creating systems, and then other things that stick out as far as like what’s the framework.  You’ve got to be careful not to over-document; I’ve seen that many times where someone falls in love with the idea of systems and then tries to systemize everything, whereas sometimes just focusing on your core 7-10 processes and nailing them right can give you huge wins, rather than trying to systemize how you take out the rubbish, how you wash the dishes, how you lock the door at night. And so prioritizing the way that you work on that, yeah, getting the whole team on board, making sure that you keep it simple. That’s the other thing as well, I believe. Systems need to grow organically so rather than trying to block it out and, you know, do two or three days where you smash them out and get them just perfect, like Troy did the other day…. A lot of people find that very difficult to do. Sometimes just capturing just the bullet points to start with and then the next time you do it, you flush it out with the sub-bullet points, and have it grow over time. I’m not a fan of those processes and systems where people do screen shots for every single step in the way, and these processes are miles long. I like a video so that if someone is doing it for the first time, they watch that first, but then next time, it’s just bullet-pointed checklists that they come back and refer to rather than lengthy processes that need to be updated every time the interface changes.

Troy:

It’s really interesting you mention that, and I’m glad to hear you say that because I didn’t know your stance on that, but I’ve seen processes that say “Open the document in Word,” or you know, “Open the Word document.”  We all know we’re opening a Word document.  And I’ll see other processes that say, Open Word, go to File Open then suddenly File Open, it’s like really?  And I was looking at that going my processes aren’t that detailed and I don’t think they should be.  I actually think it’s a bit patronizing to have details, processes that are that detailed because if you’re employing somebody who doesn’t know how to open a document in Word, they’re probably not the right person for the job.

David:

Improve your hiring system.

Troy:

Yeah, yeah.  Basic training when they’ve just come on board.

Jürgen:

Yeah, you could always refer back on … You can probably find 100 documents on Google …

Jürgen:

So, we have a process on ours … which is called the problem solving process, in our company, and it says if you run into any problems, ask one of the other team members. That’s Step 1. Step 2, if that hasn’t solved your problem, go and Google it. Step 3, after you’ve been to Google and you found out some new stuff but still don’t have your problem solved, go and talk with some more team members. And then Step 4, if all else fails, come and talk to me.  So, yeah.

Troy:

And I’ll teach you how to use Google!

Jürgen:

So, I lost my train of thought here. One of the other things you said, Dave, I think was around not documenting everything, and what I’m always a real strong believer in is documenting what you’re actually doing in the system as opposed to … well, actually we should be doing it this, so I’ll write that down, but continue to do it the way I’ve been doing it.

David:

Yeah.  I think for systems to grow organically, that’s the way to do it. You capture what you’re doing and you tweak as you go. And that’s why I think you can’t just write something once and then leave it, because the real money in a business is the systems and processes and the way that you do what it is that you do.  And the way that you reach that outcome and have the best processes and systems is by continually tweaking and improving them – ah, that step’s inefficient – and you can’t just lock yourself in one room for a day and then do that; it has to happen over time and things change. I don’t think there is another way to do it.

Jürgen:

That’s right. And I like what you suggested too, I’m thinking the light version or the expert version of the process is that you’ve got this step-by-step guide which is with the new people doing it, and the expert version.

David:

And sometimes, depending on the task we’ll do, you’ll have the main bullets and then … which is almost like a checklist item of what needs to be done, but then under that all of the sub-bullets, that’s again for more of the newer person so they can kind of see, ah, that’s the finer nuances on it. But once you’ve done it a good number of times, you still want someone to refer to the checklist, but you don’t want them to have to go into painstaking detail; they can skim through. And then there’s another distinction, which we are just starting to test at the moment, is at the end of a system, which is what to look for to know that the process has been successfully completed. So, you know, what does the outcome look like, so that way, again the expert can do the quick scan, go down to the bottom, and know well here are the three things I have to check, and if they’re in place, I know that we’ve got a successful outcome.

Jürgen:

Yeah, I was just … the next thing on my bullet list here is benchmarks, so I was just going to ask about what benchmarks do you have in place to measure the success of the systems, and also whether they’re being used.

David:

One thing that we’ve started doing, when it comes to benchmarking as far as even looking outside of the, our own business, I’ve stopped doing that to a certain extent because I feel like systems grow very organically and I think a lot of innovation that I’ve seen is what we’ve done, have been doing with systems, is because I’ve not really been looking at what other people are doing.  We’ve just been doing it and perfecting the way that we’re doing it, and it’s only now, probably in the last couple of years that I’ve started sharing what we’re doing and the way that we run projects, and I’m getting a lot of really great feedback. And I think part of that is because we’ve approached it with fresh eyes and we haven’t necessarily tried to model and copy off what others have done. I think benchmarking internally is a good thing, though, like when it comes to numbers of team members doing certain tasks, you know, we now have a guide for how long certain tasks should take, so when someone new comes on board, you know, we might give them a little bit of extra time. But then if it really blows out, and it’s a good management style to be able to come back to them and say, you know, if this task took three times as long as we think it should, we can kind of say the reason for us coming to you and talking this through is because we want to understand what you’re doing so maybe we can help perfect and improve your process and the way that you’re doing things. So it’s a nicer way of basically saying you’re not moving quick enough. So, it’s a nicer way, because it could just be that, you know, they’re missing a step, or they’re not quite completing something right.

Troy:

We use Zapier a little bit – which is an API integration tool, which allows us to integrate like Asana, our project management tool, for example, with other software that we use so that once someone has completed a process and they tick the task off in Asana, it automatically triggers other things that happen in the business. So it might push a notification into a Slack channel for us, which is our internal communications tool, so that generally speaking we know if a process is going to fall over before it falls over so we can be a little bit proactive. And we have a lot of outbound communication with our customers, we have multiple newsletters that go out every week, we have multiple touch points for our students in our courses, so it’s really important that we stay on top of those things and let things get addressed before they fall over. And if that means that ultimately myself or my business partner have to stay back late for half an hour one night and pick up some loose ends because the process is broken, then I’d rather do that than wake up at 4:30 in the morning having a panic attack because someone hasn’t received something that they purchased and for whatever reason the process hasn’t worked. So, we use a little bit of automation as a kind of a checks and balance, and we also, just to touch on what Dave was saying too about having, you know this process is complete when and then painting a picture of what it looks. We also document our technical specs, so we also document, you know, this process is triggered by Zapier from a previous process, and when you complete this process, it will trigger the next part of this process for Zapier. So if you don’t tick these off, you’re actually impacting other people in the business who might be able to do their job or won’t know to do their job because you haven’t ticked it off. So just trying to paint a holistic picture of about how you work, so that we’re not working solos and we all know that we’re part of a team and that the rest of the team is depending on us to actually complete those tasks and tick them off accordingly.

Jürgen:

Yeah, I really like that.  Yeah, Zapier is a great tool, and I’m going back through the ones that I’ve set up in the past where I haven’t actually documented what it is.  This stuff happens from time to time and sometimes I wonder – why did that happen?  How was that’s set up, so, yeah, setting that up, and then I like the What’s the outcome, what’s the end result look like, it’s really good.  I think that’s sort of part of a structure, a process to help people ….

Troy:

Yep.  The other thing that we include at the start of our processes is why; we always document why this process is important and the implications if it doesn’t happen. And then we also document what you need, so they … So just to make sure that everyone’s got the right log-in details that they need for different software apps or, you know, someone’s got the credit card that they need, or whatever it is they need to complete that task. And if they don’t have what they need, who to get in touch with to make sure they can get what they need to complete that task. And they check that they’ve got everything they need. It’s like cooking; I think it’s like cooking. You’re going to need some turmeric to make this, and if you don’t have any, you better go to the shop and get some now. Otherwise, it’s not going to turn out.

David:

What do you cook with turmeric?  That would be like a curry?

Troy:

Yeah, or a dahl. Like a dahl. It’s basically coloring, isn’t it, turmeric?

Jürgen:

Alright, so in terms of … You mentioned, you know, the why and what tools you need, so what are some of the other things that you think are important in terms of implementing systems and processes in your business and making sure that you can successfully implement individual systems?

Troy:

I think a feedback loop is really important. So whatever tool you’re using, it needs to allow for whoever is running the process to be able to comment on the process and leave feedback.  And in our case, that goes straight back to Kristen who, you know, again, who’s an outsider who doesn’t really understand the intricacies of our business. But it’s good because it forces us to … and we’re not perfect at this, but it forces us to communicate with her knowing that she doesn’t really understand what we’re talking about. So to be really clear in the communication and not presume that she can fill in the blanks.  And I also use, I use Droplr a lot for making really quick videos.  So Droplr is a screen-grabbing tool that also allows you to record screen casting. And the thing I like about Droplr is that you don’t … like, traditional screen-casting software, like a Screen Flow or  Camtasia, you need to record it and then you need to export the video. Whereas Droplr does it on the fly. You literally just draw with a crosshair, you draw on the part of the screen that you want to record, you can use voice recording to explain what it is you’re doing, and as soon as you stop recording, it uploads it to the Cloud and gives you a URL that you can just paste into an email or into Slack and say, Hey, here’s the video; can you turn this into a process. So that’s definitely sped up my productivity because I can … you know, as I’m going to do something, I can just activate Droplr, record it, and then it’s done.  Or store some in Slack.

David:

Which is a nice way to start capturing everything. I think that’s the key as the business owner, start recording everything that you’re doing, get those little video links, create some sort of system, depending on where you are saving it, and that’s really all the business owner needs or should be doing, which is capture them doing the task and then get a team member to document behind them, following a system for creating systems.

Troy:

I think this is completely off topic, but I think it’s really … I think also it’s really important, if you can, in any way, build into leveraged revenue into your business because …

David:

Recurring revenue?

Troy:

Yeah, recurring revenue or leveraged revenue, because the leveraged revenue is kind of this idea that I’m exploring at the moment because everyone talks about passive income which, you know, it just doesn’t exist

Jürgen:

Troy is shuddering on the seat here!

Troy:

It doesn’t exist, but recurring revenue is great, and leveraged income is great, so … And I’ll tell you why, because if you’ve got some leveraged income … So say for example, Jürgen, you were saying before that you took, you know, traditionally what you do is provide a service for clients, and you’ve taken that and turned it into a workshop that you can teach, and you can record that workshop and cut that recording up and put it up online as content marketing or even a paid product, well then what leveraged revenue does is it actually frees up the business owner’s time. Recurring revenue or leveraged revenue, whatever you want to call it, it frees up your time. And the thing that I realized is that before, when I was 100% client services, I didn’t have time to document any of my processes. And I think that’s ultimately why my client services business drove me nuts, and the reason I got out of it is because it was … I was constantly reacting to clients’ demands. Whereas when I get into the product space, now that we’re selling essentially a product to customers, you make it once and sell it over and over again in the way of an online course, I all of a sudden found that I had time on my hands. And with that time I turned my attention towards documenting the processes.  So, I would just encourage anyone listening that whatever business you’re in, if you can think about any way that you can productize your service and turn that into some kind of leveraged revenue to free up some of your time from interacting with clients and spend some of that time documenting your processes.

David:

I think that’s the hard thing for a lot of business owners, it is. How do they, stuck in the business, you’re just like Oh, when am I going to find the time to do X? And you really have to, I think some sort of productisation of what you’re doing, even if it is a service. Like that’s classic thing, sort of break it down.  The other thing that I want to mention was when it comes to implementation was understanding the distinction between document management and project management.  I think some people try and merge the two together, but having that manage the actual doing – who’s doing, when’s it done by, communication – I think that all needs to live in one location and then the documentation of how you do what it is that you do, almost like a manual, that needs to be somewhere else. In trying to cross the two over, you don’t know, you know, oh should I be checking this off over here that it’s complete or should I be checking it over there, and I think that leads to confusion.  I’ve not quite seen yet something that does both very well, usually they’ll do one better than the other, and then that usually means that they might be dropping the ball on project management or something else.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s a good point because I guess when I first started, I tried to have it in one system and then what happened, people on the project management system would tick things off as done and then of course because we set it up to archive stuff that was ticked so it wouldn’t fill up and clutter the screen, then we lost some of the stuff.

David:

And that’s the real value. Again, I just keep coming back to this is me thinking as a business owner rather than someone working in the business. When I want to sell the business, the thing that’s going to have the value that I can hand to the potential buyer is here is the way that we run our business, the actual operations manual, this is what you’re paying for, this is why you pay the million dollars, whatever it is to buy a McDonald’s franchise. You’re buying the manual, you’re not, you know, buying some of the other stuff. That’s where the money is.

Troy:

Seven hundred grand …

David:

For a McDonald’s?

Troy:

A McDonald’s franchise.

David:

Just for the name, and then you probably have to pay for the rental of the store and everything.

Troy:

That’s right.  So it would be north of a million to set one up, but yeah, seven hundred grand for the book basically.

David:

Yeah.  So you’ve got to start writing your own business book!

Troy:

That’s exactly right.

Jürgen:

Alright, and so I want to talk a little bit about people. You mentioned earlier about having a champion onboard, and I certainly have an experience – in my corporate life, we actually implemented a system for the research people to go through a research process, but we took it right back to the idea through the commercialization, which was a little bit foreign to scientists and the research department because they just wanted to work on new ideas and so on. And I ended up being the champion for that on a global basis, which was quite a big challenge, but we got through that. But there are a lot of people issues there to get everybody on board in a bigger organization, so how do you see that working in a small team?

David:

It’s definitely got to start with the business owner in that once they get the idea, they need to keep reinforcing it to the rest of the team. I think it’s important you always lead by example when it comes to the team. So that’s got to be a part of it. Then understanding, I think, having that champion in the business is next. Having some sort of process that introduces it to the team and does it gradually. There’s nothing worse than coming into a team and saying Alright, let’s throw out what we’ve been doing in the past; we’re starting fresh now. Let’s rewrite all of these processes and procedures. Now you follow this to the letter, and if you don’t, you’re out. Like that’s no way to manage. Understanding where you’re at at the moment and making small sort of strategic moves that kind of move you closer and getting them onboard and having buy-in, again people want to be involved in that process. So get them involved in identifying, well what are the repetitive tasks that are going on in the business. Get them to help identify what they are, get them to take ownership of creating the first version of it. Find your B1 and your B2 in the business who will then look after it. I think it needs to be a whole team and get started. Troy mentioned it before, it’s generates comments. You know, there needs to be comments backwards and forwards and that’s really the way to do it. It can be a little bit of a cultural shift because, especially with creatives, I know offering video services and things like that will work with creatives and sometimes creatives see systems and processes as limiting. So there’s always the balance there, but then that just means that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the counterbalance to them.  So, for some of our creatives, we’ll have the project manager, who’s quite particular with down to the detail of scheduling times and following up and ticking things off, which enables the creative to be a bit more sort of free moving. So you kind of need to make sure you’ve got both.  And understanding different personalities as well. Some people will embrace systems, others will find it like it pulling teeth.

Troy:

100%  – that’s it  now.  I think the clearer the business owner is about the vision and the better the business owner is about communicating that vision to the staff, then the more chance you’ve got of getting the team on board. And if the business owner is really passionate about the vision, that helps. And if you’re not ….

David:

Ask yourself what are you doing.

Troy:

Also what I’m learning is not forcing people uphill, you know, we’ve got certain people in our organization who are challenged with systems and so I try not to make them write systems. So I try and get other team members to interview them about their process and then the other people who are good at writing systems to actually write the systems. And we’re still working through that and it’s not … by no means perfect. But I think it’s really that you try and put people in the right seat and try and play to team member strengths. And the challenge is then if you’ve got lots of people who are really creative and no one is analytical, then you need to hire someone who is analytical.

David:

I think as you’re growing a business as well, at different stages of the business you’re going to need different resources. And there are times where a team member might have helped you grow up to a certain point, but then if you are continuing to grow and moving into a different phase, like, I think systems and processes, typically speaking, if you’re a brand new start-up and you haven’t quite figured out your service offering and you haven’t figured out who your target market is, I wouldn’t be starting in systems and processes; it’s further down the line. So understanding where you are in the cycle and then addressing it once you’re a little bit more established and you know that’s the bridge to move through to another level. So, that being the case, yeah you need to find out, well if staff members are having trouble fitting in with that, well, you know, are there other roles that might be more well-suited to them or they may not be the right team member at that point in time as well.

Troy:

Because first of all you’ve got to prove that you’ve got a business model that’s commercially viable. You’ve got to prove that you’ve got a product or a service that people are going to pay for, and then once you’ve proven that, even if it’s not profitable to begin with because it’s the concierge version and you’re doing lots of it manually and, you know, the business owners are working seven days a week to make it happen, then the next stage is to put those processes and systems in place to turn that idea into something that’s profitable. And I think that’s the real …. You know, you kind of taught me this about the three different stages of business growth, and it’s that middle stage where systems and processes, once you’ve proven that you’ve got a product and service they want to pay for, it’s the systems that make it profitable.

David:

I’m just imagining someone who hasn’t yet proven it yet, and they start documenting the perfect system to lose your money.

Jürgen:

Actually something you said earlier, I thought, yeah that’s good having different people in the organization with different skills and picking those people that can write processes and those that might be able to do a different way.  So, I’ve got one team member who comes up with some ideas and does some unique things from time to time.  I’d ask if he could take care of that, and he said, Oh I’ll just do this, and I said, “Well, can you do a video and show us how you did it.”  Because, his background, he’s actually trained as a video media person. So he actually likes to do the videos, so he does the videos.  And so okay, there’s a process for doing that if we ever need to know how to do that.  So recently he adapted a photograph for us in Photoshop that we had to use in the website, we had to blur out some logos, and I’d actually done a training course in Photoshop a few weeks before, and I fiddled around trying to blur out these logos and couldn’t do it.  So I said to him, You probably know how to do this, and then he did it, and I said, Can you do a video just for me so I know how to do it?

David:

One other one that popped into mind, and this is I suppose sharing experimental things, because you just made me think about it then … And this is something I haven’t yet figured out whether or not it’s a good idea or not, but I’ll share it anyway.  Is where we’re toying around with the idea of gamification of systems improvement within the team, so trying to encourage the improvement of systems, having some way of recording documented changes, and then team members that help to improve systems that get accepted changes win a point and then potentially at the end of the month having a leader board and rewarding it.  So you’re rewarding that behavior.  I haven’t yet figured out if that’s a good idea. We’re just kind of dabbling with the idea at the moment because I also don’t want to get to a point where people are putting in full stops and things like that to kind of say I can game the system.  But I think there’s something to be said again that kind of just helps to say well this is part of the way that we do business and what you measure gets improved.  So by improving how you’re improving … documenting how you’re improving your systems is a way to try to get attention.

Troy:

And I think one of the things that just occurred to me while you were saying that is that in a perfect world I would just employ specialists.  You know, you talk about your video guy; in a perfect world, I would just have him doing video nonstop, even if the business didn’t need that much video, right.  Because I’m a firm believer that if you put people in their sweet spot, you’ll get … they’ll be happy and they’ll be more productive and they’ll have more fun and that’s better for the business, right.  So the way to get … I think to get some team members to buy into processes is to identify what their sweet spot is and then to dangle that carrot and say, Well, I want you spending more time having fun doing what you’re good at and what you enjoy in the business, but the only way we’re going to get there is if we spend the mornings making sure our systems are done, locked and loaded, you know, everything, all paperwork done.  There was this great poster when I was in sales, working in sales, that said, You know, it’s Friday afternoon, all paperwork is done, all budgets are met, all KPI is met, and all pigs ready to fly.  But it’s that kind of mentality.  If you can get all of your ducks in a row, then people have got free time to actually do the things that they’re good at.  And when you’re a small business, unfortunately you just can’t employ specialists because even though you do employ specialists, you need them to do other things in the business, so everyone kind of ends up being a half generalist, half specialist, and I think that’s where systems can help you remove the generality from your workflow and allow you to focus on doing what it is that you do best.

David:

Occasionally, around that idea of specialists, depending on what the process is, we’ll hire a specialist just to create the process that then gets passed down the line. So that can be a nice, quick way to get a great process or procedure. So let’s say, you know, you want to have a look at the way that you balance your books, so you go to a Zero consultant and say, alright, I need you to create me a process for our end-of-month’s checks and measures.  He writes the process and then you give that back to your bookkeeper afterwards.  So stuff like that can be ways to shortcut it.  It just comes down to budget and how quickly you want to move, whether it makes sense.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s a really good idea. I hoped you’d say that.  At your workshop I think you mentioned it, that’s quite neat.  Alright. So, I do want to move onto the Buzz and talk about innovation. So, my normal questions. But before we do that, one final wrap-up comment on systems and processes.

David:

Troy?

Troy:

Uh, thanks, Dave!  Well, you know, I told you before I have a lot of stories I have to tell, and this is one of them.  I think it’s, you know, you guys know now that when I was in Chicago in 2014, I almost had a meltdown and it was because I was overwhelmed with the business that I’d created.  It was like, well, this is all my own fault, you know.  And I was looking at coming back from Chicago and looking at what I had to do when I got a little too much, it’s like, you know, I’m going to go hide in a cave somewhere because this business I’ve built is just, I just can’t manage it. And so for me, that’s like the #1 reason to put processes and systems in place and get other people to drive those processes and systems so that you don’t burn out because you’re no good to anyone. You’re no good to yourself, you’re no good to your customers, and if you work out what it is that you love about your business, you don’t want to end up resenting and hating your own business.  I mean having your own business has massive benefits as we all know, and you want to try and enjoy your time as much as possible.  And so systems and processes allow you to take some of your time back so that you can operate in your sweet spot as a business owner and not just put fires out all of the time, which is you know, it’s boring pretty quickly.

David:

Yeah.  But I think everybody intuitively knows, as a business owner, that to extract themselves from the business and deliver something consistently to their clients that they need systems in place.  Like I think every business owner would have to agree with that.  So recognizing that you just need to start to put it into place.  Like I’m not too sure what else to say.  Like I know systems are the key to give you back the freedom that you were looking for when you started business; like that’s why you started a business.  Yet most business owners are the least free person known to man; they’re the ones working until 12:00 every night.  So you need those processes to get that freedom back.

Jürgen:

And if people listening to this haven’t read the E-Myth Revisited or whichever one is the latest one by Michael Gerber, then definitely read that.

Troy:

And, you said it before, Built to Sell, by John Warrillow; it’s just fantastic.  Absolutely and it takes time.  Just be patient.  It takes time to get your processes in place.

Jürgen:

Alright then, so I do want to move onto the Buzz, so we’re going to switch to innovation, and this is going to be a test because you’ve answered all of these questions before. So I’m going to go back and check what you said last time. So, what’s the #1 thing anybody needs to do to be more innovative?

David:

To be innovative, you need to create space to think.  So as a business owner, you get caught up in the day-to-day and when the innovation happens is when you give yourself enough thinking room. So, again, that’s why systems are fantastic, because they give you that space to have the innovation.

Jürgen:

Actually, that’s a tick, Dave, because that’s the answer you gave the last time.

Troy:

Is that right?  Well, I’m probably going to differ on what I said last time, but it’s something I’ve actually learned from you, is that in order to innovate, I reckon you should publish your processes and your systems online, which is what I’ve been doing. And the reason, you taught me this, is because when you publish your processes, you publish your business processes online, you’re basically giving them to your competitors, and that forces you to make sure yours are better and continue to innovate because you’re just giving away the way we do business online to anyone to steal.  Now, the reality is that most business owners, as we’ve said, are too busy to steal your practices and put them in place, but it does actually motivate you to innovate because you’ve just given your best ideas away.

David:

It’s very Sun Tzu, like he was all about, you know, burning the boats when you land on the shores, you know.  You either fight and survive or you die.

Troy:

Yeah, I’m definitely a burn-the-ships kind of guy.  Actually, I work really well when the ship wrecks.

Jürgen:

Okay, so the second one is what’s the best thing you’ve done to generate new ideas?

David:

For me, there was a big breakthrough when I started going on holidays.  But a business owner, I had got very caught up in the day-to-day, but having a young family and then starting to go away from the business and forcing the business to survive without me gave me time to innovate and think and also surfaced a lot of issues that needed to be revisited and fixed with new systems.

Troy:

You know, I was going to say so, basically surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs. And I did that through starting a podcast, I’ve done that through reading lots of books, and hanging out with guys like Dave and Mike Rhodes, and Nick and Greg Cassar at events, like speaking at events and just hanging out afterwards, having dinner and just picking brains and sharing … you know, looking outside your business and what other people are doing, I think is for me, has been the best way for me to generate new ideas – and looking at other industries as well.  Look at the manufacturing industry.  Looking at how the Japanese make cars and working out what you can learn from that.

David:

I think that’s where all of my best ideas have come from systems is what I lifted from stock market space because that’s all about creating a trading plan, which is something, a step-by-step process on the way that you approach the market and enables you to do all of the pre-thinking upfront so when you’re in the moment, rather than getting caught up emotionally, you already know what to do, and it’s the same with business, you do the pre-thinking so that when you’re actually in the doing, you can focus on the doing.

Jürgen:

Alright. Now, what’s your favorite tool for innovation?

David:

I’m glad you asked!  Something I’m using at the moment is SystemHUB.com.  So, that’s just the way that we document our processes and procedures. That innovation for us comes from capturing it, eyeballing it, and continuing to improve it. That’s the innovation for us comes from, it’s not as sexy as I’m in the shower and I have this new great idea; for us, it’s a bit more structured than that and it just comes from watching what you’re doing, measuring the outcome, and then going, well how can we tweak this and improve it.

Troy:

You know, do I have to pick one.  Ummm, gee, what did I say last time.  I reckon I said InfusionSoft last time’s podcast, but I think, I know this sounds really kind of weird, but for me at the moment it’s dictation software. So there’s two things I’m trying to achieve; I’m trying to keep my hands off the keyboard, I’m trying to end up with a keyboard-free life, and I’m trying to get rid of my emails so Slack has 100% been a game changer and dictation software, a little microphone and Dragon Dictate on the Mac has improved my productivity 100%.

Jürgen:

Hmmm.  That’s interesting.  When I broke my shoulder, collar bone, a year ago, I obviously couldn’t type so I had a go at Dragon Dictate and I just couldn’t come to grips with it.

Troy:

Yeah, it’s a huge learning curve and you’ve got to train it to understand your commands and your voice, but it’s definitely worth it.  I met a guy about two years who is suffering RSI, and he was a programmer, he’s a Ruby on Rails programmer, and he couldn’t touch the keyboard.  And he spent six months programming Ruby on Rails with voice dictation.  Yeah, get your head around that.

David:

Wow.  Next level….

Troy:

Yeah, yeah.  Another semicolon, new line.

Jürgen:

That’s good. Yeah.  Alright. What’s the best way to keep a project or a client on track?

Troy:

Baseball bat.

David:

Um, I have a different approach. Um, I think clearly … The biggest reason why a client gets off track is because you haven’t prepped them and given them appropriate expectations.  So you need to tell them up front what to expect.  You know, here is timeline, here is how it’s going to work, here’s when you’re going to be asked to give appropriate feedback.  If you don’t, then here’s what happens, you know, after seven days we sign off and we move to that next round anyway.  It doesn’t mean you have to be an ass about it if, you know, Oh, can you give me two extra days?  Yeah, that’s fine, but the only reason clients kind of push the boundaries is because you haven’t really given them any boundaries.  So you just have to give them, you know, a little pen to play in.

Jürgen:

That’s good advice.

Troy:

And not … Well, actually my advice would be productize your business so you can sell products to customers and others.

David:

Which is, you know, very similar then because then when they place an order, they know what they’re getting.

Troy:

That’s right.

David:

They’re buying a specific product.

Jürgen:

Great.  Alright. And what’s the best way to differentiate yourself?

Troy:

For me, this is really easy:  Become a specialist.  Like, the reason that they, the reason that the UVP is so popular is because it’s called Unique Value Proposition for a reason. It has to be unique. You have to be able to say something your competitors can’t say. So to say we give good service and our prices are competitive… So what; who cares.  To say we give a good quality product, well nobody ever knocked on your door and said, Can I buy crap?  Of course, people expect a good, quality product; they expect it at a good price, and they expect good service.  That’s a given. So you need to be able to say something unique that your competitors can’t say, and that forces you to do some soul searching, work out what your sweet spot is, and then just stick to your guns and not get distracted by the shiny widgets.  Just become a specialist.

David:

Um, to add to what Troy was saying, because I think that’s a really good way, and then to layer on top of that is for a business owner, up to a certain point before you start building your brand, an easy way to differentiate is with the business owner. So if the business owner focuses on marketing and bringing their own personality into it and they become the expert, which is kind of what we were saying around becoming a specialist, but really leading with that personality, because no one can ever really copy that.

Troy:

And if you look at some of the big brands like Apple, when Apple, in their heyday, I mean it had Steve Jobs written all over it, you know.

David:

Branson.

Troy:

Branson, Yeah.

Jürgen:

That’s right. So –

Troy:

Troy Dean.

Jürgen:

Alright.  Well, this has been really great. I think this is sort of working out quite well. Hopefully it will be of value to all of our audience. So, where can people reach and say thank you to both of you?

Troy:

That will be all over…

David:

For me, probably head over, the best place is SystemHUB.com.  So, nice and easy.

Troy:

Yeah, and troydean.com.au is the best place for me these days.

Jürgen:

Alright.  We’ll have those links there on the show notes as well.  So, I always ask at the end who do you want me to interview on this podcast in future and why.

Troy:

So, I’m going to say Kerwin Rae who I just discovered today is running a thing called Social Experiment.  So Kerwin’s a marketing consultant, a business marketing consultant in Australia, and he’s just come and admitted that he has been doing social media very badly the last four years, and he’s now got a videographer following him around three days a week to film him and his business get good at social media.  And he’s publishing, this is like a web reality TV documentary.  So, you know, like good on him, like courage for doing that.  I reckon he would be definitely worth speaking to, because if you’re going to innovate, stick a camera on your business and broadcast it; that’s going to force you to innovate big time.

David:

The other one, I would interview, someone Troy’s already interviewed, Seth Godin.  When it comes to innovation and stuff like that, he’s a bit of a leader in that space. Very articulate, very clear thinker who values …. yeah, I think that’s a big thing.

Jürgen:

Okay.  Well, there you go.  Kerwin and Seth, look out for an invitation to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Troy and Dave.  Alright, so finally then … Well, not quite finally, but what’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give anybody that wants to be a leader?

Troy:

I mean, that’s really, that’s really tough.

David:

Be the best example of whatever it is that you want to lead.  I think that’s … So, if you want to teach something, if you want to demonstrate something, you’ve just got to start with yourself first and become a really good example of that.

Jürgen:

Yeah, I like that.

Troy:

And you know what. Don’t try and fool yourself that you’re passionate about something if you’re not.  I know the whole congruency thing’s a bit kind of woo-woo but there’s nothing more appealing and attractive and obvious than someone who is just operating in their flow and doing exactly what they should be doing. So if you’re not passionate about it, then just do something else until you find what it is that you’re passionate about.

Jürgen:

Yeah.  And the crazy thing is, the audience, whoever your audience is, actually sense that.

Troy:

100%.  They can smell it a mile away.

Jürgen:

So success or failure is preprogrammed, if you like.  Alright then, well thank you guys for that.  This has been really awesome, and I really appreciate your doing this.

Troy:

Cool.  Thanks for having us.

David:

Yeah, thank you.

Jürgen:

Thank you.

 

Wrap Up:

Well I hope you enjoyed the different interview format and the discussion on systems and processes with Troy and David – I certainly had fun doing it and learned some new things.  There definitely are a lot of great tips for all businesses in the interview

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/systems, that is S-Y-S-T-E-M-S, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/systems, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .

Troy suggested I interview Kerwin Rae (kerwinrae.com) and David suggested I interview Seth Godin (sethgodin.com) on future InnovaBuzz podcasts. So, Kerwin and Seth, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Troy Dean and 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!

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Jürgen

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Pages.

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