This month, contributor Brock Yordy talks about standard operating procedures. I want to dovetail on that discussion. In addition to SOPs, let’s talk about systems — specifically, small systems to help solve regular pain points in day-to-day work and business operation.
Let me first say that businesses, of course, all differ. An LLC has different demands than an S corp. A contractor handling environmental projects works differently than a geothermal loop installer. Likewise, the strengths of one person challenge and frustrate another. We know ourselves and our own businesses, and the challenges we face in those capacities.
Focus for a second on that task you always forget. Where do you fall down on the job, so to speak? I’ll go first. I do not depreciate a vehicle against my “side hustle” company. I don’t drive enough in that capacity to merit buying a truck, though I do regularly drive. That means I need to track miles. Yet, a couple years in a row I left money on the table at tax time because of terrible mileage-tracking skills. I have a bit of a tinkerer in me and didn’t want to share that tax money with a subscription mileage tracker, even though those do typically work well. My solution? I set up my mobile phone to prompt me whenever I leave about a dozen locations I frequent. Now I don’t have to remember to log my miles and I have records for my accountant to look at.
I solved the problem once to make it easier to solve each subsequent time it presents itself.
Let me offer another example. I cook more than most. That includes everything from baking bread to fermenting strange and wonderful vegetables. I like to experiment, but like to do so with go-to recipes from a place of consistency. That requires documentation and a little math. I measure everything by weight. I have spreadsheets for special recipes and can scale up or down based on the ingredients or occasion. Those spreadsheets help get me the same results each time.
I wanted consistency. I tinkered a bit based on documented recipes. With a little math, I solved my consistency problem once, and now have a recipe for the biggest or smallest project. Do you mix anything in your line of work where you want good, consistent results?
Your regular pain points and small systems to address them will differ from mine. (And these, of course, aren’t the SOPs Yordy talks about in this issue. Maybe we can think of these as the gaps between SOPs?) My point is to get you thinking about those little things. Pick one a month in 2023. Solve it once. At the end of the year, I think you’ll appreciate the results. You’ll have a more consistent, well-run business and can move on to solving those bigger, higher-dollar-value problems.
What do you think? Where can you use systems for valuable reminders or bits of consistency? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.
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