How Your Business Can Transform Society!

Business leaders build a better world on three levels. The first level is simply building a good business that provides value to people.  Second, they go beyond basic business expectations to do things in and through their business that provide extra benefit for people and communities. On the third level, business leaders intentionally use their businesses as a platform to make a transformational impact on society, to literally rebuild the world.

If you are in business, you are already on Level 1. You are already building a better world just by doing good business!

Level 1: Building Your Business

At the most basic level, when you build a business you play a vital role in meeting people’s needs and thereby building a better world. If you do nothing but build a business that meets needs well and makes a profit doing so, you not only provide a product or service that society needs, you create the resources that put food on tables, roofs over heads, and kids in school. Even better, if you create a healthy culture in and around your business based on enduring values, you can create a little slice of a healthier society.

What I have learned is that ministry happens in the margins. Going the extra mile only works if you’ve got gas in your tank at the end of the last mile. If you don’t have a business that allows you some margin in your finances, time, and emotional capital, it’s hard to use your business to do effective ministry that goes beyond the goodness of simply doing business well.

So what’s the pathway to create more margin to be able to do more ministry for the world through business? I have found that the pathway is through implementing the right processes. The secret is in the systems that cause success. Implementing the right systems in your business is one of the most valuable means to be more effective at Level 1 and ultimately to allow you to enjoy more time and energy to function at Levels 2 and 3.

To do more on Level 2, you must learn to build a business that accomplishes the mission of your business through implementing effective business operating systems in nine critical areas. If you’re interested in learning more about these nine categories of business operating systems you can check out the additional information in the Appendix at the end of this book. As you continue to implement processes that produce better outcomes and create greater margins of time and money, it will help launch your business into more Level 2 activity and impact.

Level 2: Building Beyond Business

Once you have a business that is generating some consistent value for others and creating some consistent profit, you have the greater ability to move to the next level where you are building beyond business. At this level you are going the extra mile to intentionally create value for others beyond the fundamental value of doing good business.

Even if your business isn’t focused on changing the world, when your business goes the extra mile to create out of the ordinary value for employees, customers or their community, you are applying best practices that some of the greatest companies in this world follow. Such Level 2 initiatives are a good warm up for playing in the “big league” of Level 3 where you intentionally use your business as a platform to shape society and rebuild our world.

Level 3:  Rebuilding the World

After you have basic success in building your business and some wins at building beyond business, at some point you begin to embrace the paradigm that your business is actually a powerful platform (some might even say an elaborate front) to transform society. You begin to see that the real power of business is more than creating valuable products, services, and environments. It’s even more than going the extra mile to benefit humanity. It is actually a powerful tool to transform the world. For those who are followers of Jesus, their business can become a powerful platform to perpetuate the values of Jesus on this earth. For those who are church-going Christians, their business could even become an extension of the ministry of their church to intentionally infuse God’s good purposes into the world.  Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, your business can be a powerful platform to make what’s wrong in the world, right!  Your business is your pathway to transform your part of the world!


In this episode I refer to the nine categories of business operating systems that every successful business needs to have in place.  Following is some overview information and a few key questions about those nine business operating systems:

Overview of the Nine Categories of Systems for Success in Business

Building a business that gives you the margin needed to build beyond business and do more to rebuild the world requires the disciplined planning and implementation of nine foundational categories of business systems.  Each of these business operating systems are powerful tools that will help you organize key areas of your business for maximum effectiveness. Together they work to make your entire business run like a perfectly constructed machine giving you the consistent results and margin you need to change the world through your business! I’ll give a brief overview of these nine systems, and also give a little insight into why each one is important to the success of your business.

Like the designer of anything great, you cannot build a successful business that gives you the results you want and the margin you need to rebuild the world without first creating a blueprint; a vision of what you want your business to be. That’s why the first and most important system you use is the strategic planning system.

Strategic Planning Systems

Do you have a clear vision for your company and a step-by-step plan to achieve it?

Success doesn’t just happen; you have to plan for it. In fact, the biggest mistake business owners make is failing to come up with a blueprint for their success. When you get caught in a cycle of firefighting, it is difficult to do anything but react to the crisis of the moment. Strategic planning is the way to get proactive about your business.  It starts with a clear understanding or your personal mission, vision, and values so that you can intentionally build a business that is an outgrowth of who you are called to be.  Then you will develop a crystal clear mission, vision, and the core values that set the direction and DNA for everything you do in your business.  Based on this, you will develop specific strategies, objectives, goals, and action plans where you decide in advance exactly what needs to be done, and how you’ll do it.  Your direction, strategies and goals will be in writing so it can be clearly communicated and consistently executed.

You and your employees will know the specific tasks needed to accomplish each goal. With each positive change you make, your business will become what you designed it to be. But your designing work doesn’t end with the creation of an overall strategy for your future success; you also need to design each of the individual systems that have to work together to achieve your strategic plan.

Here’s one powerful tool you can use to identify which systems you need to implement or improve in your business. It’s called the Performance Gap Analysis. In strategic planning, the performance gap is the difference between where your business is today, and where you want it to be in the future. Once you define what lies between you and your goals, you’ll be able to come up with a strategy to bridge the gap between the two. When you analyze where your business is today in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to create a specific plan to leverage your strengths, and overcome your weaknesses and take your business where you want it to be.

Marketing Strategy Systems

Every business needs customers, but where do you find them and how do you get their attention? The purpose of your marketing strategy system is to create and communicate your unique competitive advantage that will attract the most probable and profitable customers to your business.

Do you have a written marketing plan that clearly identifies your product, pricing, distribution and promotional strategies, and how they will be implemented?

When you understand the characteristics of your target market, the trends in your industry, the strategies of your competition, and your products’ unique benefits, you’re able to make sure you spend your marketing dollars where they will produce the best results. Your marketing strategy takes into consideration everything you do in your business that impacts your customer, like your products’ features and benefits, hours of operation, customer service policies, and credit terms.

But it goes deeper than that. Did you know something as simple as changing the color of the clothes you wear can increase or decrease your sales? So can the image your correspondence or invoices present, and the expression on your face or the tone of your voice. You can lose a customer just as easily over a little thing as you can over a big one.

Your strategic marketing system will give you the confidence to launch a successful marketing program based on research and planning rather than on a gut feeling. It’s a powerful tool you can use to take the guesswork out of all of your marketing systems.

Workflow and Organization Systems

More effective marketing systems will attract more customers, but more customers can lead to more chaos. That is, unless you have work flow and organization systems to keep the inner workings of your business running smoothly.

Do you have systems in place that ensure time is spent on the most important priorities for your business, and nothing is falling through the cracks?

Workflow and organization systems specifically address the issues of time and your efficiency. Where is your time going now? And how can you create more time to do what is most important? For example, when you use a delegation system, you create time for yourself by assigning responsibilities in a way that ensures the task will be done properly, and on time. A project control system helps you save time by giving you instant information about every activity and deadline in your business. That’s so you don’t have to chase people down to see what is getting done. If you have inventory, an Inventory Control System ensures you have the right amount of the right products in stock. It also makes certain your cash isn’t tied up in a lot of slow-moving products.

With business operating systems in place, you don’t have to spend time rethinking or explaining each and every task over and over again, hoping it gets done correctly. Organization systems create procedures for everything your business does on a repetitive basis, like opening and closing your business each day, maintaining equipment, handling customer complaints, or any other area of your business where you want consistent, predictable results.

There is no such thing as “good enough” when it comes to building a successful business. Your operating systems can’t remain static. Your business environment is constantly changing. What works today may not be sufficient tomorrow. So you need a way to continually improve all of your business operating systems; a system to improve your systems! Here’s how:

First, you have to decide which system to improve. Next, identify the specific goals and purpose of that particular system. Third, evaluate your current situation, and do a Performance Gap Analysis to identify your desired outcome. Next, brainstorm new ideas to bridge the gap, to improve the existing system. Then evaluate your ideas and select the one that seems most likely to succeed.

That last step is where many business owners go wrong. They may have plenty of new ideas to work with, but most business owners don’t have a system to help them choose and implement the right ideas. Your strategic plan and market strategy help you identify the right ideas. Then you can use a different system to test, measure, and implement each one.

This is called your “TMI Formula”. The first portion of the TMI formula is to test your new Ideas. For example, you may want to test a new print add by placing it in a small local paper before committing it to something more elaborate. New ideas can be expensive, especially if they don’t accomplish what you hoped they would.

The second portion of the TMI Formula is what really separates the designer from the specialist. The designer doesn’t just try something new; the designer measures the actual results of the change to determine its success.

So a designer who creates an online ad campaign will also set up a tracking system to monitor the new business that ad brings in. To measure the new business, you need to know where all of the new business comes from. Did the customer read the new ad? Or did they walk into your business off the street? Or did a friend recommend they come in? One simple way to gather information is to ask, “How did you hear about us?” whenever a person walks into your business or calls. With a good system for measuring results, a designer can tell how many responses the ad generated, how many sales resulted, and how profitable the sales were. Then you can determine with absolute accuracy whether or not the idea was a success.

That brings us to the third step of the TMI Formula: Implementation. This is more than saying “Let’s do it”. Implementations is taking what works and turning it into a system. It’s taking the results of testing and measuring your ideas, and using that information to create procedures that will produce the same positive results over and over again. For instance, if you discover greeting a customer with a question like “Have you ever been in our store before?” leads to a higher percentage of sales than greeting them with “May I help you?” you’ll want to implement that greeting into your sales process. The procedure that gets the best results is then documented in writing; every employee is trained to follow it properly, and each person is accountable for using the system you’ve developed for a particular situation. The final result of the TMI Formula isn’t simply the creation of positive changes; it’s the systematic use of the changes to achieve consistent, predictably good results in your business.

Personnel Management Systems

Your employees are crucial to the success of your business, whether you already have people working for you, or you’re thinking of bringing someone on. Personnel management systems will help you get the most productivity and profit from your employees and create a highly empowering work environment that fully engages the best of each person. This helps you manage the entire personnel process, and it goes far beyond hiring and firing. You know you need to hire someone when an employee quits. But your personnel management systems will also help you forecast your future work force needs and develop a step-by-step process to attract the right people for the right jobs.

Your orientation systems will prepare your new employees to become a dedicated part of your business and share your vision of what your company is all about. With effective personnel management systems in place, even disciplinary problems can be dealt with in a way that will reduce stress and miscommunication.

How would you feel if everyone in your company loved what they did and consistently went above and beyond the basics of their jobs?

When you take the time to develop your personnel management systems, you will reap the benefits of having employees, while you minimize the headaches. The right people, with the right qualifications bring valuable experience, needed skills, and renewed enthusiasm to the business. You will be creating a positive work environment where productivity is higher, communication and cooperation is better, and potential problems like low morale are likely to be avoided. The effect will be felt by everyone; you, your employees, and even your customers.

Promotions and Advertising Systems

Good advertising is as much as result of good planning as creative talent; whether you are selling a product or a service. Your advertising and promotion systems will help you get the most out of your advertising dollars, no matter what your budget is.

Do your advertising and promotional efforts generate the response you would like?

While the marketing strategy systems help you to position your product in your market, promotions is the job of presenting your product in a way that makes the consumer want to buy it. Advertising, personal selling, public relations, and online marketing are all considered promotional activities because their ultimate objective is to make sales. Advertising is one of the best ways to promote what you are selling. But unless you know what you are doing, it can be risky for a small business owner with a limited budget. The promotional and advertising systems you implement will help you understand the ad buying and pay per click process, so you can create advertising that gets noticed by the right people. Even if you have someone else create your advertising, it’s important you understand the elements of an effective ad, to give the direction needed to ensure success. Whether creating an ad for a print publication or for online presentation, your promotional systems will help you create an effective message that will reach the right people at the right time, and generate the sales you want.

Business Communication Systems

As a business owner, you probably spend most of your day writing, speaking or listening to someone. Business communication systems help you master the skills you need to document your other systems, and clearly communicate your ideas to form better relationships with everyone you come in contact with. If a breakdown in communication has ever caused problems with your employees, or your customers, you know resolving these problems will cost you valuable time; sometimes money. Business communication systems will help you get your message across in any situation: one on one, in a group or when you need to resolve conflicts or negotiate agreements. Most importantly, you will hone your listening ability and use it as a tool for better understanding.

Without good communication skills, your strategic plan will never get off the ground. Your promotional strategies won’t reach their full potential, and you certainly won’t be able to lead and motivate your employees, or build strong relationships with your customers. Since so much is riding on how you communicate, it is important you develop the systems to help you do it well.

Personal Selling Systems

While your marketing and promotion systems will attract prospects to your business, you still need effective personal selling systems to turn those prospects into costumers and achieve consistent sales results.

Do your sales people have a systematic way to discover what the customer needs and wants? Do your sales depend on the talent of a particular person? Or do you have a sales system that enables all your people to produce consistent results?

You can reach a certain level of growth while your sales are still dependent on you or another sales person. But unless you have the right systems in place, you’ll eventually hit a ceiling, where your sales will eventually drop off. Maybe you suffer from the “Peak and Valley” system. You can go out and sell as much as you can; then your business comes to a grinding halt while you switch hats and deal with the orders you just got. You may be waiting for a superstar sales person to show up and solve your problems, but there is no guarantee they will be able to work their magic in your particular business, and if they leave, your sales expertise goes with them. When results depend on your own selling skills, or those of someone else, your bottom line will constantly change, and so will the messages sent to your customers. Personal selling systems will give you predictable control over increasing sells from your existing customers and developing the new business you want.

Financial Management Systems

Financial management isn’t just about keeping track of historical information or keeping the IRS happy. It’s about systems to plan and create the future of your business. Your financial management systems will give you a complete and accurate picture of what you did in the past, where you are now, and what adjustments you need to meet your future financial goals.

Do you have a system in place to project your income and expenses so you can accurately predict your cash flow?

Do you know how to use the information on your financial statements to help you anticipate and prevent problems in your business? How your business is doing financially at any given time should never be a mystery to you, or an assumption you make based on appearances. When you have the right financial systems in place, you will always know where you stand. But you will also have the ability to forecast future sales and expenses, so you can prepare for the future. Once you understand the key components of financial management, and the systems you need to run your business properly and predictably, you can begin to solve problems before they get out of hand, and you can take advantage of new opportunities that come your way.

Leadership and Motivation Systems

This final system for success you need to have in your business may be the most important of all. Your leadership and motivation systems have the power to make all of your other systems exceed your expectations. No matter how good they are, systems by themselves can’t create success; people do. When well led, highly motivated people turn on the systems you design, you will be able to expand your vision for your company to create whatever success you desire.

Do you have systems in place to lead, motivate, and inspire your employees to pursue your vision for your business as passionately as you do?

Do you have a system to assess the levels of ability and motivation of each employee? And a plan to lead each one to a new level, where they can operate independently and with confidence? You probably know you can’t motivate anyone yourself. You can’t control or reward your employees into consistently effective behavior. To go above and beyond the basic requirements of their job, employees need to be internally motivated. What you can do is put the right systems in place to create an environment that fosters self-motivation. The ultimate level of effectiveness you can reach with your leadership and motivational systems is to have systems in place that not only develop followers, but develop other leaders in your business. When your business grows with followers, you will be limited to growth by addition. You merely begin to develop and add new employees. But when you develop by leaders, you’re able to grow by multiplication. You have other leaders in your company who can add and develop new employees, expanding in leadership effectiveness. Your leadership and motivation systems are the secret to creating a self-running and self-perpetuating business that provides a platform for you to change the world!

Imagine what it would be like for your business to take on a life of its own, apart from you, but according to your design. These nine systems are the crucial components of your ideal business. If each one is in place and working together, they become your systems for success.

This all starts with the mindset and practice of approaching your business from a designer’s perspective, rather than the perspective of a specialist. The designer perspective helps you recognize and bridge the gap between where your business is today, and where you want it to be. From this basis you will then design and implement the specific systems that work together to get your business to the point where it is achieving consistent and predictable results, giving you the time and money margin you want to do even more to build beyond business and build a better world. You will have a business that works hard for you, rather than you working so hard for your business.

The goal of this appendix has been to stimulate your thinking and give you some proven concepts that will help you get even better results from your business.  But just knowing what to do isn’t enough, you also need to know how to go about it.

If you want to solve problems that stay solved, if you want to create that special kind of business where customers love doing business with you; if you want a place where you and your staff can’t wait to come to work each day; if you want to a business that gives you the time and money you need to build a better world, don’t just read this. Take action now to develop the systems your business needs to go to the next level!


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