Starting, building and growing a business is exciting. But in the first couple of years, it's easy for things to get out of control. Balls get dropped, tasks fall through the crack, and what was once fun and exciting can become a headache. Why? Because of a lack of business systems.
I recently had Natalie Luneva as a guest on my podcast, "In Systems We Trust." Natalie is on a mission to help companies grow, clarify their priorities, and build high-performance teams. With over a decade of experience growing marketing teams, she's helped over 100 companies streamline their operations, clarify business priorities, and scale. Currently, she is the COO at the Hubspot payment integration company, Deposit Fix.
Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to talk to her about how she develops and maintains her processes and procedures.
I strongly recommend you check out Natalie's episode of "In Systems We Trust". But in the meantime, I've pulled out some key points from our conversation and compiled them below:
WORKING FROM HOME
Deposit Fix is Nathalie's husband's company. While he takes on the role of CEO and manages the finances, she keeps things running smoothly on the operational end.
Since the pandemic started, they've both been working from home. While this could cause a potential strain on some relationships, Nathalie and her husband have worked out a system.
The first trick is separation. "We work in two separate rooms in the furthest corners of the house so that we cannot hear each other because we are on a lot of calls."
The second trick? Maintaining a schedule; "We meet around midday or in the afternoon, right before I pick up the kids to talk about what's been happening. We're basically like an office environment."
Keeping their workspaces separate and maintaining a schedule is good for the business and good for their sanity. This way, they're not on top of each other all day but still making time to check in to make sure things with Deposit Fix are on track.
HOW TO CLARIFY BUSINESS PRIORITIES
As a coach, Nathalie specializes in helping businesses manage their priorities. When she takes on a new client, the first thing she looks at is their metrics.
"Without those metrics, it is so hard to say what it is that we should focus on first."
This is because clients may think they know what they need help with, but after looking at the data, it's clear their problems are in another area.
"Sometimes, founders and CEOs come to me and say, I need help with SEO. And I need to produce more content. Do you know a writer who can produce more content for me?' Nathalie said. So she asks to look at their Goole Analytics and sees that they are getting a lot of traffic to their blogs, but it's not converting.
"So they don't actually need more content. They need help with SEO."
This is a perfect example of how Nathalie helps businesses clarify their priorities. Things may look one way on the surface, but after Nathalie comes in and takes a look at what's going on behind the scenes, it paints an entirely different picture.
"There is no silver bullet. I think we just go case by case. And I look at the areas of opportunity for every business."
HOW TO MANAGE A REMOTE TEAM
In today's COVID world, every team is a remote team. But when I asked Nathalie how she manages her's, her eyes lit up.
"My favorite subject, I'll be honest. I'm writing a book about team performance and improving your team performance!"
For Nathalie, the key is having every SLP, guideline, and theories very accessible. "Not hidden somewhere, not having five different versions of the same thing. And then you have to figure out which one is the latest one and is definitely the first step forward."
For small companies that don't have a large team yet, this means documenting everything you do. That way, when it comes time to hire someone, you already have a basic SLP or set of guidelines ready to hand off to them.
"Plus, people often do not work out. So even if you hire someone, they may very well be gone in two months, right? And you don't want to explain the same thing multiple times to different people. So that's why you want to have those processes documented."
Why don't more small businesses create SLPs or adopt an internal system? Often, it's because they're considered back-office functions or boring.
It's not something that requires your attention today, particularly when you're in the startup phase. You're so focused on building your company that other, more pressing tasks require your immediate attention. There's a perceived lack of urgency.
But, without systems, you don't own a business – you ARE the business. That means if you want to double revenue, you need to double the hours you work. Since you only have so many hours in a day, that limits how fast and how big you grow.
By automating, delegating, and systemizing, you gain leverage, which is the key to creating and scaling a high-growth organization.
I really enjoyed my conversation with Nathalie and encourage you to listen to her episode of "In Systems We Trust." She gives a ton of great advice and insight, and I hope to have her back as a guest in the future.