Spend five minutes in the creative entrepreneurial space and chances are you’ll hear someone talk about systems — how important they are for your business, how they’ll change your life, etc., etc.
While I’m inclined to agree with those claims (after all, creating and simplifying systems for my clients is kind of what I do…), there’s an important part of the conversation that often gets missed — the kinds of systems your business needs.
Some business systems are obvious. They’re big and loud and get super in your face when you don’t have them streamlined or in place. Other systems are more subtle and quiet. The value and necessity of them can sneak up on you so unexpectedly that you barely even realize that’s what they are.
Both of these systems — the quiet and the loud ones — are necessary for a thriving, sustainable business. But the quiet ones often get neglected in favor of the loud ones.
What, exactly, are these quiet and loud systems I’m referring to? None other than management systems and maintenance systems.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS & MAINTENANCE SYSTEMS
Even if you’ve heard people talk about systems for hours and hours, chances are, you haven’t heard people talk about maintenance systems vs. management systems.
Management systems are the ones that are big and loud and tend to get the most focus and attention in the systems conversation. These are the systems that make things happen for your business and tend to produce client facing work.
They’re systems for your client projects, creating content and new offerings, and generally just getting stuff done.
Maintenance systems are the quiet ones of the bunch. They’re discussed sometimes, but often after-the-fact or ignored altogether. And they’re the kind of system that’s easy to forget about when the management ones are screaming loudly for attention… until the maintenance systems start speaking up because everything’s going haywire.
Confused? Think of your business like a car. Management systems are the things that are obvious from the outside — headlights, a full gas tank, and air in your tires.
Maintenance systems are the internal things you forget about… until the check engine light comes on or you’re pulling over on the highway because smoke is showing up in places smoke should never be.
Basically, management systems make people who only see your business from the outside look like a well-oiled machine. Maintenance systems actually keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.
You need both of them to create a beautifully functioning, sustainable business.
EXAMPLES OF MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
I’ve shared a few of them already, but you might be wondering… what are the management systems in your business?
Like I mentioned before, they’re the systems that makes things happen for your business that other people see.
Client management systems are the systems and processes you have in place to gets your clients from Point A to Point B, hopefully in a simple, streamlined way that delivers them an amazing experience.
Content management systems are the systems and processes you have in place to create incredible content — whether it’s for social media, your blog, your email list, your YouTube channel, or something totally different — on a consistent basis.
Project management systems are the systems and processes you have in place to make projects, whether they’re internal or for your clients, a reality. Again, hopefully in a simple, streamlined way.
Task management systems are the systems and processes you have in place to get ish done. These are tied in with all your other management systems, but also exist to make sure those random to dos that aren’t part of a larger system happen when they need to happen.
Maintenance systems are something you’re probably familiar with in your business, but have never heard called that.
They’re also the things that tend to get pushed to the wayside when things get overwhelming, but it’s in those seasons of busyness and hustle that they become more important than ever for keeping yourself sane and organized!
As mentioned before, maintenance systems are the internal processes that keep your business running like a well-oiled machine. They can look different for every business, but the purpose behind them is the same — keeping the internal backend of your business updated on a regular basis so you don’t run into a crisis somewhere down the road.
Monthly Duty Day is a system a lot of entrepreneurs, myself included, adopt in order to keep up-to-date with those random tasks that can easily fall off the radar — like updating your QuickBooks or recording your mileage — and become a pain in the neck to deal with if you forget about them for six months.
Money Dates are a system similar to Monthly Duty Day, but specifically designated for the financial aspects of your business. They can include updating QuickBooks, handling invoices, paying bills, updating your spending plan, or making purchasing decisions for your business.
Quarterly CEO Day is a maintenance system I started implementing in my business in the latter half of 2018. It encompasses some tasks similar to Monthly Duty Day to make sure the administrative side of things is running smoothly, but more specifically, it’s a maintenance systems focused on ensuring I’m stepping out of the day-to-day management of my business on a regular basis to look at it from a CEO perspective, cast the vision, and make sure I’m following that moving forward.
Annual Refresh is my most robust maintenance system and is basically the equivalent of a deep clean. I go through every area of my business at the end of each year and examine it all, from top to bottom, updating and making changes as necessary, planning for the future, and ensuring everything is in tip-top shape before I step into the new year.
While they might seem like a lot, most maintenance systems give far more back to your business than they take away from it. They allow you to continue working in your business with confidence, knowing you have designated time to work on your business with a regularity that keeps things running well.