Back Office Secrets
with Jenny Shih

One Thing You Must Do to Take Your Business to the Next Level in 2013

checklistAs you’re diving into your 2013 action plan and putting your Big Ideas into motion, you may be finding that you have a lot to do and less time to do it.

Whether you’re working on getting your first client, hitting 6 figures, or shooting for 7, there is one thing you must implement to get there.

It may not be sexy or glamorous, but it’s the engine behind micro operations like mine, small business like LKR Social Media, and massive corporations like Apple and Amazon.

What is this engine?

Hang tight. I’ll get there.

Imagine This

Imagine that in your business every client is handled with ease, excellence, and consistency. Imagine that every day you have a clear picture of exactly what needs to get done. Nothing falls through the cracks. Everything is handled like it should be. Your business runs reliably, completely, and drama-free.

Sounds fantastic, right? It’s totally possible.

How? With systems.

What Systems Are and How They Will Help You Reach Your Big Goals

Systems are a series of steps you repeat the same way over and over. Systems are consistent and reliable methods that you trust, meaning you don’t need to think twice about whether it did or will happen. When your business’s systems work well, there is no stress, drama, worry, or inconsistency.

This worry-free mentality is what I want for you. Because when you’re not worrying about day-to-day details, you can focus on the task at hand – and reaching those big goals for 2013.

Create Your Personalized Systems in 5 Steps

Step 1: Consider all your options

List all tasks in your business, from accepting new clients to blogging, sending newsletters, doing bookkeeping, sending emails, etc.

Step 2: Pick a one system first

From the list above, pick one area to systematize first. You may want to choose the area that causes the most frustration or the one that would feel most liberating to streamline.

Step 3: List every detail

For the system you picked, list out every single detail required to make that system happen.

Let’s say you chose your newsletter-sending system. You’ll need to include writing content, giving the material to your assistant to upload, reviewing the draft, sending it out, and likely other specifics for your business.

Mentally walk through the process several times to capture every detail of this system.

Step 4: Map it out, find the gaps, fill them in

Now that you have written down all of the steps involved in your system, put them in order. What happens first, second, third, etc.?

As you map it out, notice if there are any gaps or places where hiccups happen. Or sometimes you’ll realize that a certain step is done a different way every time.

Note any gaps or inconsistencies because the next step is to fix them!

Do you need a template to fill out for your weekly newsletter to be sure you send your assistant everything she needs? Do you need to create canned emails for the things you find yourself saying over and over again?

List out everything you need to create to make your system fully functional, then go create those things!

Step 5: Implement and test your system

Once you have a full system mapped out with all of the gaps filled, it’s time to put it to work. Set up a trial period where you test your new system.

When you first implement your system, you’ll likely find a few new gaps or hiccups. That’s okay! In fact, it’s part of the process. Simply note where things aren’t working as expected, tweak your system, fill in the gaps, and resume testing your new system. It will only take a few teweaks before your new system will be humming along.

Getting Started with Systems

If you’re struggling with where to start, check out these examples of systems that you may be able to implement in your business.

One is a standardized new client intake process, and the other is a simple process for getting killer testimonials. Both outline a system that I put in place in my business and helped others implement in theirs. It will give you a feel for how an effective system is set up and how to create them in your business.

If you want a little more detail on creating systems for your business, you can download a FREE copy of the System Flight Kit: Everything You Need to Create Effective Systems for Your Business, right here.

Where Will You Start?

Now that you understand how systems will help you reach your 2013 goals, tell me…

1. Where in your business (or life) could you benefit from systems?
2. What step are you going to take TODAY to put these ideas into action?

I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got in the comments below.

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About Jenny Shih

Jenny Shih of is a coach and consultant for small business owners. Her clients are “idea factories” with growing businesses who need help planning, strategizing, streamlining and systematizing. She helps new entrepreneurs define their niche, learn the basics of marketing, and start making money. And she helps experienced entrepreneurs set up systems so they can get out of the daily grind and spend more time doing what they love.

Jenny is the author of The System Flight Kit, everything you need to create effective systems in your business, and The Idea Flight Kit, a step-by-step guide for turning your ideas into something real. Download your copies right here. They’re FREE!


  1. Awesome! I love when people bring attention to systemitization, the downfall of so many online business owners are doing it haphazardly and being unorganized everything, whether the “it” is…dealing with e-mail, sending a newsletter, writing a post and promoting it, taking in a client, or making a sale.

    Love it, I use forms extensively [Gravity Forms on WordPress] for my payment and intake system, and use Omnigraffle heavily to map out what stuff looks like, I’m sending this out to my newsletter group today to detail what the opt-in process actually looks like. [] … technically this link hasn’t gone out yet but it’s live!

    • Jenny Shih says:

      Thanks for sharing some of your techy tools. Tech tools are great additions to systems but must be paired with an effective overall system (aka process flow, set of steps, sequence) to really work well.

      I know plenty of entrepreneurs who have lots of techy tools and online systems, but their business is still a mess. However, with the right process flow in place, those techy systems make everything smoother and quicker! And it’s great to know what tech tools are out there to support the right entrepreneur and their business.

  2. People resist systems because they don’t like the restriction. They think that keeping things free and easy will mean they can be lithe and agile. But we don’t have to look very hard to see that the systemless generally flounder.

    Once someone gets it into their head to systemitize, they usually go looking for models. The danger here is in trying to cherrypick those models to “make a system that works for me”, as if you are some kind of unique species all unto yourself. Consider this:

    • Jenny Shih says:

      Yes, people resist systems when they think they’re restrictive, until they realize that systems actually create more freedom! When effective systems are in place, our mind has the freedom to do more of what matters and spend less time in the daily grind of details. Once people realize that, they’re on board and their whole business shifts. That is fun to watch!

  3. Great post Jenny, and thanks so much for highlighting this crucial part of day-to-day business. I’m still finding my feet with my site, and I find that I feel pressured to do ‘productive work’ that knocks things off my to-do list, rather than ‘getting stuck’ creating lists and systems. I’ve been realising more and more recently that this is backward logic, and your post has tipped me over the edge. I know what I’m going to be doing this weekend now!

    • Jenny Shih says:

      So glad to see that creating systems isn’t about “getting stuck,” but actually about taking small time out so you can move forward faster!

  4. Lana Waller says:

    This is my main goal for 2013. I am working on getting Infusionsoft campaigns finished so I can then focus on getting a system in place and a calendar for organizing everything from the website to the blog and social media. We just switched to in September 2012. We are a small business and I am trying to do it all. There is so much to learn and manage. I am really looking forward to having all of the set up areas complete so I can move onto streamlining a system to be the most productive in the least amount of time. ( That would be a perfect world, wouldn’t it?)

    • Jenny Shih says:

      As you put the systems into place, Lana, you’ll totally be able to get more done in less time. Since systems help us cut down to the basics and limit the amount of “thinking time” that happens for every task, stuff gets done much faster than without them. I’m confident you’ll see the benefits as you continue to put them into place.

  5. Opata Olende says:

    Thank you so much for this helpful post. I’m launching my business in just over a week and I’ve been running around like a crazy man, all the while thinking, “I really need to set up some systems and protocols to make my life easier.”

    Great tips and confirmation that I need to do this over the next few days.


    • Jenny Shih says:

      Yes – Opata – take the time to do it now. Especially if you’re just launching. I often have clients come to me after they’ve been in business for years and everything is a total mess. It’s way more difficult to put systems in after the business is huge, as opposed to starting out on the right foot from the get-go! If you need help, The System Flight Kit free download (link above in my bio box) will help a ton.

      • I second those thoughts, do it now, do it now! I have see too many business owners with computer files the equivalent of a junk drawer, only it looks like duplicates of files, named anything and everything, 20 domains scattered inside their website host with various ideas … create yourself some systems, document them!

      • Opata Olende says:

        Thanks for the helpful resource, Jenny. I’ll be making use of it.

  6. Hey Jenny,

    Great post on systems and organizing your business! I’ve had to learn this the hard way over the last 3 years. I finally picked up on the concepts and how to apply them effectively over the last 6 months and things are going really well. This is a great reminder and I appreciate it!

    Thanks a bunch!
    -Gabe Johansson

    • Jenny Shih says:

      Would love to know which system concepts helped you the most in your biz. It’s always great to hear from and learn from others’ experiences.