Systemize The Chaos Out Of Your Business – with Kelly Azevedo

How do you create systems for your business so you can delegate more of your work? Joining me is Kelly Azevedo who is a systems engineer who works with entrepreneurs to leverage and grow their businesses.

Watch the FULL program



I use my sponsor Wistia‘s video hosting because of Wistia’s stats.

About Kelly Azevedo

Kelly Azevedo is systems engineer who works with entrepreneurs to leverage and grow their business.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Three messages before we get started, first: what’s the analytics package that’s so simple you’ll actually use it to grow your sales? Spring Metrics. I use Spring Metrics because it shows my conversions in real time. Spring Metrics motivates me to keep growing my sales with clear comparison charts like this. It even shows the exact path that each customer took to buy from me so I know exactly what’s working on my site, and what I need to do more of. Even though I pay full price, you can get 25% off by going to springmetrics.com/mixergy.

Next, what’s the design development shop that acts as your technical co-founder? The Zehner Group. I hired the Zehner Group to build the first version of mixergy.com. Tweetstore got Zehner Group to turn its idea into a working online store. Health in Reach turned to Zehner Group when it needed a user experience expert to make it super simple for people to search through it’s thousands of physicians. Do what I did. Go to zehnergroup.com.

Finally, who’s the lawyer that entrepreneurs trust? Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Neil Patel, Jason Calacanis, and other well known founders trust Scott Walker. Scott knows the start-up community because he’s part of it. He’s the lawyer that the media turns to explain start-up law. Walker Corporate Law. Here’s the program.

Hey everyone, I’m Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you create systems for your business so you can delegate more of your work? Joining me is Kelly Azevedo who is a systems engineer who works with entrepreneurs to leverage and grow their businesses. Kelly, can you start us off with an example of how you’ve helped someone systemize? Maybe tell me about that woman that you and talked about earlier? What was her life like before Systems First? Then we’ll talk about what it was like after you systemized it.

Kelly: Sure. You can have a very successful business without creating systems in it, but you’re probably going to be very chaotic. This is what happened with a former client of mine who would find that every time somebody left her team, the entire company was thrown into chaos. It was because she spent a lot of time training that person, they really understood her business. But when they left, she had to start fresh. She had to re-teach a new team, or a new team member all of those steps.

Inevitably, you’d forget something, it had been a while. It would really hamper the business because if this happened right before launch, or a client wasn’t served, it could really reflect poorly, and in some cases, would lead to lost business. So, what happened was, by taking the team members who were there, who really knew what they were doing and what was expected of them we were able to create some very easy systems for the team to follow. Also, they were more consistent with their clients now. But also if they left, somebody coming in would have a starting place.

As a result, the client is able to spent 80% less time managing the business and how it runs and just focuses on serving those clients and bringing them value as a coach every single week. She can do that because she understands that everything else has been taken care. It really allows her to relax into her zone of genius, which is not managing details, emails, all the stuff that needs to happen in a business, but that you don’t necessarily have to do yourself.

Andrew: You mentioned something that we’re going to talk about a lot more in this program which is documentation. That’s a key part of what an entrepreneur or any business person who wants to delegate needs to do. Be clear about what you’re doing now, have it documented somewhere.

Kelly: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Alright. So the first tactic you and I talked about in the pre-interview is to set a goal. Give me an example of somebody who has set a goal and why.

Kelly: Sure. I’m working with a client right now who has this great goal to be able to travel more, be with his family. He looks at, I might be gone for a month or two at a time, but I still need income during that time period. My business can’t just stop because I’m taking a trip. Right before we started working together, my client was on a retreat for two weeks. So we came back, we started discussing how did it go? You were gone for two weeks, how did your business work?

He said, well I was still doing everything myself and I worked on vacation and I don’t want to do that anymore and I don’t want to limit myself to only going on vacation where I can get Wi-Fi access and kind of stopping the time with my family to go do business. So we could see that if your goal is to travel for two or three months or even just to get some things off your plate and delegate more and you aren’t really doing it well now, you really need a strategy to get there. You really need to be intentional about how you begin to reach those goals.

Andrew: You know I still need to do even more systemizing here at Mixergy. But what got me to start thinking that way was when I was hospitalized for a couple weeks and Mixergy, my site, my work just came to a halt and I even wrote about it on the site. I was worried that people would forget me and everyone in the comments said, “No we won’t forget you. We like your work. We’ll remember,” but I don’t really believe that. I think people eventually do forget if you’re not there.

If your favorite coffee shop is closed for a couple of weeks, you’re not going to remember to go back. You’re going to find another habit and you’re going to live with that habit. Beyond that, if the business shuts down when one person is out of commission, it’s not really business. It’s a hell of a great job, but it’s not a business.

Kelly: It’s a job you can’t quit.

Andrew: Sorry?

Kelly: It’s a job you can’t quit.

Andrew: Right.

Kelly: Because what else are you going to do?

Andrew: Right.

Kelly: I mean you get stuck, you can’t leave and then you’re working for a crazy person, yourself.

Andrew: And so I started off on this path of systemizing and what it did was it forced me to make some tough decisions about what we’re not going to do because there’s certain things you can’t systemize easily and pass on to other people. And it forced me also to, well once I started simplifying as we’ll talk about here, I was able to give some of these processes to other people and have them do the work for me. I’m still not 100%. The courses and the interviews, the on camera time is still me, but we’re going to have to find a way to work around that in the future, too. It will take awhile, unfortunately, because so much of this is dependent on me being on camera.

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: But I’m going to use the same process that you were talking about here in this interview and the same one we’ve talked about in past interviews and courses here on Mixergy. I’m saying that because this is something that I need for myself and that’s the kind of attitude that I’m coming into this program with.

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. So first just set a goal and often it’s those terrible situations where you have to systemize that are going to spur you to set a goal of systemizing your business. The next part of the process, you say, is what?

Kelly: You really have to document what you’re doing. So you can start teaching it to other people and I call this you need to become the GPS of your business. Because it’s not enough to tell somebody you’re at point A, I want you to get to point B, because if they have no idea how to get there, they can’t read your mind. They’re not going to take all the steps you would take and it’s just like driving to a destination. You may know from habit where you should go, what routes to avoid, but somebody who doesn’t have that experience is just going to take their best guess.

The problem in your business is if you don’t document how to get somewhere and how to achieve the outcome you want, it’s going to take somebody a lot more time. It’s going to cost you money because you’re paying them and you’re going to get frustrated. That’s when entrepreneurs usually say I give up, easier to do this myself, fire their assistant, and then they never grow. And it’s because maybe not that the person wasn’t following your instructions, but you didn’t give them any instruction. So you need to just start writing those things down. You know exactly how you work.

Andrew: Tell me the example that you and I talked about privately about one of your clients and how he started documenting. What kind of things did he document?

Kelly: Well we took it very simply of what are things you do on a regular basis that you want done every single week without fail. The first two he could come up with was writing and posting on the blog and sending an e-zine. I started looking at the documentation and there was about 15 steps that I do for my own newsletter that I never realized I did. I go, ‘Wow you are very, very specific,’ and that’s awesome. That’s what you need in a system is to know very specifically what happens. If you insert a photo is it left, center, right? Do you want to wrap text or is the photo alone?

All of those little things that are just your preference, you need to write down so when somebody takes over, they follow your preference and you don’t have to go spend time fixing it. What we did was we created this process, very well documented and not as much just writing out what to do, but we inserted screenshots. Here’s where the schedule button is. Here’s how to queue the post. Here’s how to tag the post. We even do instructional videos. So the person we brought in could look through that the very first time and pick it up and automatically he was able to get, you know with a little bit of work up front, he was able to delegate that task and could now focus his energy somewhere else.

Andrew: And I think the audience could even start to pick up on some of the systems we have here. We documented everything, I think, including the outlines for the interviews and people are going to start to recognize a certain pattern here.

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: I ask for tactics and I ask for specific examples and part of that is I have this belief that real entrepreneurs don’t want empty philosophy and empty ideas, you know? You can enjoy that on your own time, but when it comes to business you say if you’re going to teach me something, I want to be able to use it. And I know that because people used to complain when I didn’t do it.

Kelly: Right.

Andrew: And so now the format that we have for the interviews is tactic, tactic, tactic with examples for each one and the examples are supposed to illustrate. The examples are supposed to show credibility and the examples are often what people remember and then the tactics are what they end up using because they’ve remembered those examples. So that’s what one example of how we’ve systemized even a conversation like this to make sure that it’s useful.

Kelly: And if you look at how much time that you, as an entrepreneur, took to learn that. How many sources? Trial and error. How much time went into learning that? You don’t want somebody else to have to take that time. You’re essentially giving them the shortcut.

Andrew: Right.

Kelly: Which is somewhat these interviews, right? And giving you the shortcut so that you don’t have to spend that time. Well how much more important is it in your own business? Usually the people that you employ, they aren’t as passionate as you are. This is not their business and their goal and they need to learn from you because they’re probably not going to spend all that time themselves to figure it out. So in a way you are just giving them the shortcuts and telling them your exact preference. You feel supported and you feel like you can take a break. You can be in the hospital and not be worrying if that happens.

And it’s very important. Last year at this time, my grandfather was in the hospital for a few weeks and died and I was there at the hospital and I wasn’t worried about my business, because I knew it could run. It was amazing and it wasn’t a great experience to be at the hospital, but not worrying was something I was very glad I had done the work ahead of time to make sure I could be there.

Andrew: All right. Let me go on to the next tactic. Sorry to hear about your grandfather. You know, here’s the kind of jerk that I am and you kind of noticed it in the pre-interview because I kept pushing for specifics and so on. When I think of delegating and systemizing, it’s not because I’d want to be at the bedside of someone who was sick. I think that, and this is the scumbag that I am, I kind of feel like I come from a background where if you ignore those things and you’re a real tough guy. If you work 20 hours day, then you’re a tough guy, the mark of strength. So whenever people say to me, it’s how to systemize so you have more time with your family or so you have more time away from work, it always feels to me like you, sir, are weak.

But the part that does get me is this idea that if I’m working 20 hour days, I don’t have time to step back and think of new ideas. I don’t have time to get lost in experiments. I don’t have time to have conversations that may or may not lead somewhere and, to me, that’s much more of a practical reason for it.

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: And I’m so glad that you’re smiling as I say that because I think a lot of people would say this is a disgusting person. I cannot believe I’ve just signed up for someone who would just give me a perfunctory condolence about my grandfather and then just go on to say there are other more important things in life than family.

Kelly: Yeah, whatever your motivation.

Andrew: There aren’t. I’m just saying that’s the business mindset that I have. You sacrifice everything to make it work. All right so now we’ve documented.

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: We’ve exposed Andrew as a scumbag and the next tactic is what?

Kelly: You really have to start filling in the gaps and start seeing what you haven’t documented very well. Because the more we get into the habit of doing something in our own business. I’ve done it myself 30 times, you skip steps. Just like I did with the e-zine, I realized oh I do check that box and I do make sure that this is correct. All the little things that we may not notice that we do. We’ve been doing it automatically. We start to see those gaps when we teach it to somebody else.

So if somebody else is going through your system, and they’re following A, B, C and all of a sudden you jump to F. The right team member or the right person will say, “I don’t get how you got there.” Then we can start to fill in the gaps and start to see what you need to add. Sometimes that’s just very, very simple. It’s what time do you want this email to go out? You know, what conference line do we use for a teleseminar? All those things that you’re so used to doing, that you just need to fill in the gaps.

I had a client who I had been working with them for a few weeks and they said on a call, “Well, I emailed that to you.” And I checked my email and I hadn’t seen it.

And they said, “Oh, it’s in your client email. We set you up an email under our system.” But they had forgotten the very small step of telling me that I had a new email and giving me the login. So I had missed a weeks worth of email because they had skipped one step. So being able to see those gaps and fill in your system as you go, it’s just that continually learning process.

That’s why I think most people are in Mixergy, because they know that whatever you’re doing now and, as great as it can be working, you can always improve. You’re just continually improving your system and how you do business.

Andrew: Speaking of filling in the gaps, I had dinner with The Onyx Silver [SP] who will be doing an interview here in a few weeks and he handed me this book because he saw my obsession with systems. He saw how helpful it’s been for me.

He handed me a book called, “Work This System”, and one way that the author of that book said you can find your gaps is by taking your documentation and handing it to a new employee and saying, “I’m not going to say anything, just take this and do what’s in the document and see how that works.”

And I need to do more of that. For example, when we were finding ways to edit the courses on Mixergy, I documented the process step-by-step, and then I handed it to a non-video editor and I said, “Can you use this to edit the course?”

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: …was able to edit it so I figured alright, we have – actually the first time she ran into small problems like, I forgot to explain how to export, or I forgot to explain some little thing that just comes naturally to me. I added that to the documentation and now I have a clear outline of what to do.

I’m even thinking it would be great if I could hand my audience my documents and say, “Can you do this? Can you edit an interview? Can you take my outline for an interview and do an interview?,” and see how that works?

The more you can pass on to new people feels like the easier it will be to spot those gaps that you just don’t recognize that you have.

Kelly: Yeah, and that’s when you start working with a team that really gets you and your process, they will start noting those things too. So they’ll note that if you’re going on vacation, you need to make sure that these things are done before you go. Or they could come to you and say, “It’s not in the calendar yet, but we’re going to have that call next week.”

They can start anticipating those things for you. But again, like the first example, if you’re not documenting that, if that team member leaves, you’re in trouble. So, just understanding the way you work, and there’s no real ‘this is the way you work,’ everyone is different. They have different businesses. They have different systems.

You need to write down what works for you so that you can, like you said, give it to somebody who has no experience with you and see if it’s complete. And then once it’s complete, you can really take it to the next level.

Andrew: All right. So you filled in the gaps. The next step you’ve told me before is to improve the process.

Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. You want…

Andrew: For example, help me understand this through an illustration.

Kelly: Yeah. You really want to keep growing. I work with a business who we bring on a lot of contractors. When we start off we say, “OK. Here is your email.” We give them the login information. And, “here is your tax form. And here is everything you need to start.”

We were in a call and one of the team members says, “No, I haven’t read that email,” or, “I haven’t checked up on that,” and we started to investigate why this team member seemed to be behind on the emails. It turns out that even though she was using the team email, she was getting frustrated because she was flipping back and forth between personal email and the client email using Google Mail. In this moment of frustration she says, “Well, you can’t log in to multiple Gmail accounts at once so we just have to deal with it.”

Everyone paused and someone bravely said, “You can log in to multiple Gmail accounts at once, and I’m going to show you how.” And [??] the recorded a very short video. I like to use Jing.com and I know it’s been mentioned on Mixergy before. It’s free. You can do a three-minute screen capture with audio and you just show somebody; here’s what you need to enable, here’s what you click, done.

Within 30 seconds, you can login to multiple Gmail accounts and all of a sudden the problem is solved. And that would be fine if we just helped that one team member, but what we did is we put it in the system for a new team member. We said, “Here’s your team email. If you don’t have it enabled, here’s how to login to multiple Gmail accounts at once.” And by putting it in the system, we ensured that we wouldn’t have that problem again as long as somebody was following the system. It was just something we neglected to mention when we brought that person on the team, but once we saw the problem, we could improve our process. And it saved us a lot of time when bringing on even more people.

Andrew: And that site is J-I-N-G for the transcribers. Jing. Hey, before we go to the next one. You told me before that this systemizing process is almost in your blood and you gave me an example of what you did when you were on the debate team. Can you tell the audience a little bit about that? Then we’ll go back to the path we started earlier.

Kelly: Sure. Yeah when I went to college, I was going to do everything. The one thing I tried and stuck with was I joined our university debate team. Never seen a collegiate debate. If you’ve never seen it, imagine people talking faster than an auctioneer, spitting a lot, and a lot of paper. It was intimidating, but I could tell that if I just got a good system down, we could make it work. So I joined the debate team.

No experience whatsoever and within my first year my partner and I were ranked fourth in the nation in our division. It was all due to systems. Our team had amazing ways of keeping track. Who was producing evidence? Scouting other teams. We even scouted the judges so you could adapt every strategy based on the judge at the back of the room and it was extremely beneficial. So we got to travel all over the U.S. My second year I moved up a division. Ranked fourth in the nation in that division. I mean we were debating Harvard and Yale and all the Ivy Leagues.

Andrew: So what, for example, can you systemize in a debate team?

Kelly: So for our debate team, we might have 20 teams at a tournament. We knew that 20 teams, they’d do each round, we could get strategies on 20 other teams. So we had strategy sheets that we were required to fill out. What team we were debating, what school they were from, what was the evidence they had, what strategy did they run and then if I was going to go debate George Mason. Maybe I hadn’t debated them, but someone else on my team debated them two rounds ago. I could go to the scout and say, “What is George Mason doing?” And I’d have a leg up on the competition. I could prepare because I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in that debate.

It felt like, at times kind of mean, and it felt like we were almost anticipating their every move. Because before they would even begin speaking, I’d be prepared to answer their questions and as a result we were able to pull out a lot more wins as a whole squad and did really well on the circuit and I enjoyed my time because I could see each small action that we took as a team, collectively was a system that worked very well. And it supported the goal, which was we wanted to win a lot of debates. It was fun.

Andrew: I came into the whole idea of systemizing kicking and screaming. Andrew: In fact, in early interviews I just showed no interest in it when people talked about it. I let them express themselves, because I’m not looking for people to support my point of view, but I wasn’t as enthused about it and I didn’t try many of the systemizing ideas. In fact, hardly any of the systemizing ideas people talked about. Then I just started to watch it over and over come up in interviews. Neil Strauss, of course, famously systemized relationships. Picking up women and he talked about it in the book “The Game” and he talked about it here on Mixergy.

Oren Klaff talked about how he systemized, essentially, gaming the investment process. So people he was trying to raise money from, he had a system for getting them to say yes. Who else was it? It was Tim Ferriss and talked about how he systemized health. He talked about how he systemized his way to winning dance competitions and when I met him and talked and interviewed him live at South by Southwest at the Mixergy event there, he basically told me, “Andrew you could even systemize how you respond to tough situations in interviews.” And I finally, after all those examples and many, many others, I said, “All right.”

There’s something to creating systems and I’m just going to keep learning to getting better and better and better at it and that’s the beauty of systemizing. You can keep looking at your process and looking for places to improve it and when you come across a mistake, a flaw or a problem. You almost get a little excited about it because it’s an opportunity to go back and fix the system. You can spot where it is. You’re not just sitting there going, “What do I do now? I’m completely lost.”

You go back into the system and you say, “Ah this is the part of the process that’s wrong.” As your example about the woman who told the company, “Hey I can’t log in and out of multiple Gmail accounts. It’s too tough,” and someone said, “Oh wait a minute. There is a way to do that.” You documented that and you came up with a solution. Now you have a much better system than you did before because someone pointed out that mistake.

Kelly: [??] save you time in your business and not just make it a little bit easier on your day, but your entire team will feel, ‘Wow they anticipated everything I need and all the questions I’d have coming in.’ Because some people just get really nervous. Like, “How do I ask where I should submit my invoice?” and it holds them back.

What you’re doing is you’re just breaking down the barriers and saying here’s exactly what you need, we’ve thought about where you are, we were in your shoes once, and we’re going to help you through this entire process. It really works with clients when you can anticipate what your clients need and you give it to them before they ask. That also really does help your team and creates some loyalty there because they know that you’re committed to supporting whatever they need as a team member.

Andrew: And it’s so reassuring to start off day one, not with this go figure it out for yourself attitude, but with a clear path and then afterward you can help to improve it. All right. So to improve the process, next is, you’re saying outsource the parts of the process that aren’t core of your business. You know what, we actually have an example here of someone who did it well. But, I’ve got to ask you about the company that didn’t do it well. Do you remember? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Kelly: Yeah I do.

Andrew: Tell me about them.

Kelly: This was actually how I began working almost immediately full time and then full time as an entrepreneur is I worked at a company and it created some amazing systems for their accounting and they told me how great it was, you’re doing so wonderfully. But they had this belief that we can do it all ourselves in house and we have to save money at all costs. So the way this came up was they fired the cleaning staff for the office. They had an outside cleaning group that would come in once a week and vacuum and do all that. They ran the numbers and they went out and bought a vacuum and they would have, every week, the managers, the HR director, everybody in the business would stop, grab some cleaning supplies and get down to work.

It blew my mind that you would take professionals who were supporting your clients, who were growing your business, were taking care of your employees and you would ask them to go clean the toilet because it’s going to save a few bucks. It really didn’t save money if you looked at how much they were paying the employees, but that idea of we can do it all in-house, I can take care of everything myself will just limit your business. Because if you’re trying to do everything, you’re not going to grow your business and you’re probably going to get really burned out or just frustrated. Like you said, I don’t have time to go discover new things. I don’t have time to think up new ideas because I’m stuck.

Andrew: I did that with cleaning, too. Bradford and Reed, my first company. I remember we had our first office and I swept the floors in the office. You know what? I’m a new entrepreneur with a brand new office and I think sweeping the floor was almost my way of petting my office, like, “Oh I have a new office.” And someone in the office, he said, ‘You know it’s because you’re the owner. It’s one of the things you do. You have to clean up everything as the owner,’ and just by hearing him say that little thing that he probably didn’t give very much thought too, I linked up in my mind, hard work and doing things like this is the way to communicate to everyone and to yourself that you own the place. And I kept freaking cleaning up. It was such a waste of time. I finally accepted that the building had their own cleaning people and they’re going to a frickin’ decent job of it, you know?

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: I just let that go. Now I say that because this is absurd and if you just would have told me about this company that decided they were going to clean up, do their own cleaning. I would have said, “She’s coming up with an exaggerated story,” but I lived it and if you told me that it’s to save money, maybe I would have believed it a little bit more. But I lived it without needing to save money at that business. I still did it and there’s so many other things that I feel like I have to do. That I have to just accept I’ve got to let them go. I just did an interview, too. Here’s the other problem with outsourcing. We’ll get to the good example. I just did another interview recently. Where I asked the founder, how do you feel about outsourcing certain things? And he said, “You know, I really do to some degree, I feel a little guilty about it.” And because he feels guilty that he’s giving other people his work, he’s not doing it. I’m looking for his name. There it is, James Wedmore. I just talked to him a few minutes ago and I forgot. James Wedmore he said, “I feel guilty, sometimes, passing things on to other people.” You’ve got to let go of that guilt and you have to pass it on and trust that they can get it done. Especially if you have a system for insuring that they can do it right.

Kelly: Mm-hmm. Yeah a lot of it is either fear or guilt that I feel guilty asking someone to do something for me even though I’m paying them because who am I. You have to recognize that you’re going to create a bigger impact in your business once you let things go. The other thing people have is fear that if I give this to someone else they’re not going to do it. They’re not going to do it well or I’m going to have to step back in, and that’s why a system that really allows you to track what’s happening is imperative.

If you don’t have a tracking system, and most of it’s just not written down at all, you just expect someone to go work for you. But, if you’re able to track and see you ask somebody to post the interview, Andrew, on Mixergy at 11 a.m. and it went up at 2 p.m. Now, it’s not a disaster, your company’s not going to go under, but you want to know where was the breakdown. Was it unclear? Did they post it in the wrong time zone? Or, did they get lazy? Was it just a random tech glitch?

You can find out what happened and then you can fix it. It really helps that you can. There are team members out there who should not be working for you. They’re not responsible. They’re not doing their job right. You can find them a lot quicker when you have something to compare it to. “Here’s what you should be doing. Here’s what we’re not doing, and that’s why we’re letting you go.”

Andrew Warner: And, we don’t have any fear of doing that because we have a system that we can pass to someone else.

Kelly: Exactly. You don’t have to now train somebody else and take all of your time. You have a system that you can give them.

Andrew: I hopefully won’t have to let anyone go. I hate that. I do feel most people want to a great job, and, in many cases, we as entrepreneurs blame the people we work with when it’s our own fault for not getting things done because we haven’t delegated properly. We get so caught up thinking about the great new idea and maybe even about customers that we don’t spend enough time thinking about how we can pass some of our work to other people. One guy who I admire who does this really well is Noah Kagan, who introduced us.

Kelly: Noah’s awesome.

Andrew: Noah’s good. I asked him, “How are you launching this new business, App Sumo?” and he said, “I’ve got a secret.” I said, “What’s the secret?” With this mischievous grin on his face he said, “I have an army of interns.” At the time I foolishly thought he was cheating the system somehow. Maybe it was the grin on his face. Maybe it was this feeling that I still have that you have to do all the work in order to really earn the job.

But, he’s proven that by first hiring interns then hiring them on as full timers then other full timers that he’s been able to extend his reach and grow App Sumo to… I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of people he now has because he’s been training himself at passing information on. He’s one of the people who also talked to me about delegation and talked about systems. He talks about a lot of conferences.

All right. I mentioned that there was a good example of somebody who outsources what’s not core to their business. Can you tell me about that one entrepreneur who did something that I’ve got to do a little more of?

Kelly: Sure. So, the entrepreneur realized that they were spending way to much time on e-mail, and a lot of the requests that were coming in were very important and needed to be answered but you just couldn’t keep up. You know, “I’m supposed to be on a conference call. I’m checking e-mail on the side. I’m supposed to be at dinner with a colleague but I’m checking my iPhone.”

What we put into place was a team structure, so all of the incoming e-mails with leads, there were media requests and people who wanted to work with this entrepreneur, came into Zen Desk. Then the team had split up responsibilities. It was very clear who would be handling what and then we could respond through Zen Desk as a system and track exactly what was going on.

You could see the response time. You could measure it and you could see how well the team was doing. A great part of Zen Desk as a CRM is that you could create custom fields and you could also add all this information as a resource guide. So, if your question is this, check it out here. It’s almost like a FAQS for your customer.

It would help this entrepreneur, and what she said was, “Oh, I’m getting this question a lot, so I need to address that in e-mail or a blog post. I need to have a dedicated call because this question keeps coming up.” It allowed her to measure the effectiveness of the business and see where there were still gaps, but, at the same time, she could do that because she had outsourced 90 percent of those e-mails. All of the sudden, instead of answering the same e-mails over and over, she could only focus on the ones that she needed to.

Now, when you go from, I think at one point we had 300 e-mails a day going just to the entrepreneur, when you narrow that down to three you can spend a lot more time developing relationships. You can see, oh we had five media requests this week. It’s very easy to see the ones that we should be responding to or we had four leads, but only one of them wants to buy a $60,000 coaching package.

Well now you can see what’s important because you’ve delegated the things that somebody else can handle for you and you’re still monitoring how they handle it. You haven’t just ignored the fact that you have a team. You can keep an eye on it, but you don’t have to spend hours a day. That was a really smart way to outsource something that’s necessary, communicating with the people, but doesn’t necessarily have to be done by the owner.

Andrew: Outsourcing your email to other people. I’m hearing more and more and more of that. All right. I still answer all of my own email, but company emails are now starting to go through a process, which means everyone gets their email answered much faster than if it was just me.

Kelly: Yep.

Andrew: Especially since I keep encouraging people to email me. I want those emails to come to me and I want to respond and chat with them, but if people are chatting with me or saying, “Hey I watched your interview with Kelly and it was helpful thanks for doing it,” that can wait for a response for two or three days. But if a customer buys and didn’t get his order, that can’t wait even minutes as far as I’m concerned.

Kelly: Yeah.

Andrew: Knowing the process where that can be handled quickly. All right. So this entrepreneur only had to respond to 10% of her emails because she had outsourced even that to a team of people. All right. Next is measure and review your progress. You mentioned that a little bit. Programs like ZenDesk and Assistly and others will actually come with measurement tools within them so you can see how fast people are responding. But it’s more than just those metrics that come from those systems. Tell me a little bit about the review process to make sure that people are doing what you’ve documented for them.

Kelly: Sure. Well you need to be reviewing individual tasks and pieces of the process. So if you have an email that you wanted to go out on Tuesday, it doesn’t go out until Wednesday, you know that that task was not completed. You also want to review the system as a whole and really the only way to do that is to see how it works in action. So you can write out how we’re going to do this launch. Say you’re launching a membership program for the very first time and you think that you’ve got everything that you need. You think you’ve covered all the bases. Well you’re really only going to know that when you implement it and then you see what’s missing. So you want to review, OK, if I want to launch a membership program, I’m going to keep a really close eye, see how well it works, fill in the gaps again, make sure it works well.

Then the next time you do a membership program you can step back a little. The next time you a major launch you can be even more removed, knowing that the system works and things are in place. And that’s why a lot of entrepreneurs have benchmarks. OK, I want my landing page up by this day. I need my sales page up by that day. Emails have to be read by that day. Well you just build in those requirements so you don’t get to the day of the launch and the page wasn’t ready. You may know two days ahead of time what’s happening, did it get done and you can follow along that checklist.

A lot of people talk about these. It’s a standard operating procedure. It’s a procedures manual. Whatever you call it, you just have a checklist of what needs to happen. You can put it in order and then who is responsible. What day is it due? That allows you to review the entire project and make sure that you’ve covered everything.

I had a client who left on a trip, right before launching this new program. The client is out of the country, out of the hemisphere and unavailable. All of a sudden this launch team is going through the sequence and we realized there are all these gaps. Not that we don’t know what to do, but we don’t know how the entrepreneur and the owner of the company would want us to handle it. There are a few different options. We’re going to make our best guess, otherwise we’re not going to get it done and this whole thing will fail.

So one example is we needed to post accountability sheets. We had the question, OK, “Post accountability sheets.” Where? Do we email them? Do we reference them? Do we put it on the Facebook group? Is it on the page? Is it in the membership site? Where do we do it? And we decided from our standpoint, OK, the easiest way is to post it in the membership site. Great. Problem solved.

Maybe we’ll change it next time, but at least we made a decision. Because we had to make that last minute decision and we didn’t have a view of the whole project, we missed one important step. Which was telling the members where to find their accountability sheets. And it results in getting this email from the client from hell. He emails at 2:00 in the morning freaking out. You say this accountability sheet is due. I don’t even know where to find it. I can’t believe you. I’m so stressed. Your program is supposed to help me with stress.

We felt terrible. OK. We have got to resolve this. That’s what happens when you either step out when something is going on or you don’t know if it really works yet. It’s just a major gap. It’s not that we didn’t make a decision we just forgot to notify who needed to be notified. So there’s always things like that.

And again, we can resolve it. You do the best you can. What you have to do is you have to write it in to the system. This owner decided “I want the accountability sheets to be emailed.” OK. Simple. Done. But you have to review that as you go through the launch.

Some one who did this and famously talks about it is [?] when he re-launches [?] which is a great program if you want to get in to freelancing specifically. He will go on a trio. He will post pictures from the beach in Mexico. Because he knows that his team has everything handled because he’s done it before. He has been successful. It’s running like a very smooth machine so he doesn’t have to step in and micro manage every body. He knows that it is all going to be taken care of.

So you want to get to that point. Maybe you wouldn’t go to the beach in Mexico. Maybe you would go build another program. What ever you end up doing with your time you have at least delegated enough and you know that it is running smoothly so you don’t have to be tied to your business. You don’t have to be tied to your desk and the result is if you step away it will all fall apart.

That is a horrible feeling if I leave, if anything happens to me everything falls apart.

Andrew: All right. The final tactic is, actually I’ll let you say it. What is the final tactic?

Kelly: You have got to think bigger and increase your role. If your goal is to launch a program and you want to get out there and you want to build a bigger thing. If you want to do twice as many interviews as you are doing right now, Andrew, something has to change. You either have to learn to stop time or get more support.

You are probably not going to give up sleep. You just have to find ways to do more and dream bigger. That is how your business will influence more people making more money. Once you start bringing in more support and increasing your goals you are going to see those returns.

One client I had did this. They were launching a program and they wanted to do some interviews. They wanted to work with affiliates and they wanted to just go out there and be everywhere and really promote this program. Great program they were doing.

They had one assistant. The assistant was already maxed out. They were doing as much as they could. They couldn’t work more hours so they had to bring in a support team.

They brought in an affiliate manager. They brought in somebody who could set up a shopping cart and the affiliate links. And what they did was they created everything so the entrepreneur was not setting up one shopping cart, writing emails, creating tweets. All the entrepreneur was doing was focused on serving the client and getting the message out there.

As a result they could be in four or five times as many interviews because all that administrative stuff was handled and the team was there to support it. It was a very, very successful launch because the entire team knew what needed to be done and was able to execute it. The owner could relax, show up to the interview and just sell. And really communicate and just sell the program to the people who needed it.

That is really what you want. If you can do this on a small level. If you can do this while serving say three private clients there is no reason you can’t do it while serving twelve private clients. Once you get the right support in place.

Everyone wants more business and more money for their company. They want to do more things and build more. This is one way. You really need to have delegation in place. If that is your goal.

Andrew: We did a course with Juan Martitegui who runs Mind Valley. The Hispanic version of Mind Valley. He said he systemized the customer acquisition of his business. In fact he systemized the whole business.

By systemizing customer acquisition specifically he was able to find those four key points in his customer acquisition process. And he said to his team, we are going to spend time every week maybe even more frequently than that. We are going to spend on each one of these four areas and we are going to see if we can increase by 20% each of those areas each time we address them. If we are focusing on how to get more leads, we sit around and we say, we have a system know that gets leads, what can we do to tweak this system to bring in 20% more leads.

If we have a system for converting leads into customers, what do we do to tweak that system, to add to that system, to adjust that system, to get another 20%. He systemized everything and by doing that he was able to actually increase his goals more easily, because he knew where to apply his energy. He knew what to tweak and what to adjust. He wasn’t running around like a crazy man saying, we’re doing some big amorphous thing in our business. We need to go find ways to add to this amorphous thing to make it bigger. You know exactly where to address the process.

Kelly: You really can’t improve what you’re not measuring. People I know, they love to talk about this with SEO or the numbers part of things. If you know that, you’re getting enough leads to your sales page, but their not converting. Maybe, you’re making enough sales but they’re not choosing the upgrade. Those are numbers you can work on. You can do this with your team. If there’s a team member, and they’re converting for you, they’re selling people into you’re programs. They’re only converting 2% they talk to.

Well, you can improve that system. You can work with that person and find out how to be more effective. All systems do, is they allow you to see what’s working, so you can focus on what’s not working as well as you want. If you want to increase by 20%, you have a baseline to start from, you know what works, and then you can start playing with it. That’s when you get to do split testing. You get to do more research. You get to find out what it is that you need to do next. That’s the creative part that most entrepreneurs love, but they just don’t have a starting point. They’re distracted by doing everything themselves, that they’re not improving. They don’t even know where to look to get more help and to see where there business needs to grow.

Andrew: Let me make a quick message to the audience, or send a quick message to the audience, then I’m going to ask you one final question and give your website for anyone who wants to follow up. That message is this. If you want to go to the next level with these systems. If you want even more details on how to create your own systems, we have two courses within Mixergy Premium that I recommend.

The first is, the course with Nicholas Green, where he shows you how he systemized his whole business, Ivy Insiders. He was able to scale it to hundreds of different college test prep. He was able to just grow it and grow it and have teachers all across the country because he systemized it. What he did was, in the course, he showed the specific software that he used to create a system. He showed how each person went through that process. He showed exactly what you can do if you want to systemize your business the way that he did.

The second course that I recommend is the system tools course with Mark Brooks. He showed tools that you can use for systemizing meeting people, setting up meetings, systemizing paying people, invoicing so you get paid by your customers. You systemize every part and he showed different tools that he uses. Systems for assigning responsibilities to people within his company and then measuring how long it takes them to achieve each of the goals that he sets up for them. That’s the Mark Brooks course on systems tools, Nicholas Green course on systemizing your business.

Our whole mission, my whole vision, for Mixergy courses is to create the system for you and then let you use it to run the aspect of your business that the course is there for. As many people are doing, they’re taking these courses or the checklists and handing them to a virtual system. Saying, I need you to do this. I need you to act on this part of our business for us. That’s our whole mission there. We bring in experts. You know exactly what they are doing. They teach you how they’ve done it.

Juan Martitegui, I mentioned a moment earlier, he showed how he systemized the customer acquisition part of his business and he gave you that whole outline and he enabled you to just follow along with his process and implement it in your business. It’s all very in-depth and it’s all very tactical, and it’s all very available on mixergy.com/premium. I know a lot of people here are already members of the premium program. That’s in your program. You don’t have to go and sign up for it.

If you’re not a Mixergy premium member, I hope you’ll join us. Sign up, be one of the hundreds and hundreds of people who are now signed up as Mixergy premium members by going to mixergy.com/premium. The final question is this Kelly, what’s the easiest thing that we can do? This feels like a process that will take a lot of time. We always will say with systems that it takes a lot of up-front investment, you will see the rewards, but you have to spend time documenting what worked. You have to spend a lot of time going over that documentation, making sure you didn’t miss anything, and so on. Is there one little quick win that we can give somebody who says, I just want to prove that this works so that I feel energized and motivated to do the rest of it.

Kelly: Yeah. I would say that the easy way to get started and start seeing results today is to systematize your process just from the beginning. Put on your calendar 30 minutes beginning of your day, and your day doesn’t matter. And just put 30 minutes and say, “My task is to document one system and to save it.” Whether you save it in dropbox or on your hard drive, just save it, write something down. And then tomorrow, write something else down, and then just start building those.

So in the same way, if you’re going to be the GPS for your business, you don’t have to map out the whole entire United States before you take a road trip. Start where you are. Start in your neighborhood, start one thing at a time, and pretty soon you’re going to see how comprehensive it is. And you can start going back and reviewing, you can hand it off to somebody else one at a time and ask for their feedback, but just start with one today.

Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget. You should put on you calendar to check [??], your new interview everyday. Just put things down so that every single day you’re paying attention to, ‘how can I outsource this? Whether or not I’m ready to today, how can I outsource this so that as soon I’m ready, it’s ready there for me? I have something to give them and I don’t stress out?’

That’s the other problem I see, is when somebody’s ready for an assistant, they freak out and think, “Oh my gosh, I have so much work to do before I hire an assistant.” So all you’re doing is preparing your business for success. You are getting ready so that as soon as you’re ready, as soon as you’re at that level, wherever it is, you’ve got something that you can hand off and say, ‘Here’s the system that I’m using, here’s our starting point.’ And all it takes is starting today to write something down. And just ask yourself what is it you do every single week without fail?

Andrew: Yeah. That’s a great place for them to start. Something that they do every week without fail, next time they do it just sit down and document it and you’ll see that it takes a while, but it’s much easier than you expect. And then you’ll see how useful it is in shaping the way you think about that process and of course enabling you to pass it on to someone else.

The website is Kelly Azevedo, and I’ll give the spelling of your last name for people who are driving around. Actually, if they’re driving around, they should just come back to Mixergy. Kelly A-Z-E-V-E-D-O dot com.

There’s also a flow chart that you sent me to show how you documented someone’s process.

Kelly: Thinking of Mixergy and something you do on a regular basis created two flows. And so one is all the work that you do before the interview, showing who’s involved, how that works. And then one is after the interview, what goes into your process to get that interview up on the site. And so I can post those on my website for anyone’s who’s interested just to see how a very basic system would work. You can very easily see with my notes where you can start making changes.

Andrew: Yeah, I can see it right here. You’ve documented the whole process of going from interview to published post. And you’ll have that up on your website, we’ll link to it from the comments. And since you’ll be in the comments, if anyone has any other questions about how to systematize they can find you there. And of course we’ll link to you website where they can connect with you. And I always urge people, if you’ve got any value you out of it, connect with the guests, say thank you. It’s a great way, first of all, to show appreciation, and also to build a relationship with someone who you’ve just gotten to spend about an hour with.

So thank you all for watching, I’m hoping that you’ll all contact Kelly on her website. And I’ll see you in the next interview. Bye.

Kelly: Thank you.

Sponsors I mentioned

Spring Metrics – Am I the only one who finds most analytic packages so freaking confusing that I don’t even use them to grow my sales? A few months ago I found Spring Metrics, a conversion tool that’s so easy, you’ll actually use it. If you go to springmetrics.com/mixergy, you’ll get a 25% discount that their other customers would salivate over. I, by the way, pay full price. It’s that good. Go to springmetrics.com/mixergy.

ZehnerGroup – When I wanted a website built, who did I go to? I went to Matthew Zehner of the Zehner Group. Think of the ZehnerGroup as your technical co-founder. The founder of Yes Use wanted to build a social network. The Zehner Group took his rough idea, built his website, and is now even managing it for him. Trust the company that I trust, zehnergroup.com. If you do, ask for Matt. He’s a friend of mine; He’ll take great care of you.

Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.

Share

  • http://www.EntrepreneursUnpluggd.com Tim Jahn

    Fantastic interview (as always) Andrew.  I’m loving all this systemizing stuff as, like you, I wasn’t too familiar with it but now I’m seeing how it’s an absolute must.

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Glad you enjoyed it Tim! Isn’t Andrew great at diving deep into the issues that may not seem important but can really help your business?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for doing it, Kelly!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    It’s helping me a lot. Glad you’re finding value in it too.

  • http://kaldenbergconsulting.com/ Brian Kaldenberg

    Awesome interview. We are trying to improve our systems. Setting a goal is something we haven’t thought of.

  • http://www.JiansNet.com Jian

    The “cleaning the floor” story is quite educational. It again reminds me that to be successful, it is better to focus on one’s strength rather than anything else.

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    there’s a lot of ways we “clean the floor” from doing tedious website updates, managing email, even stuff at home like cleaning, mowing a large yard or changing your own oil. If you need leverage then try letting some of those things go (which is really hard for me since I have always done my own car maintenance and yard work!). ~Kelly

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks Brian.

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com PaulMagee

    I love systems. I have a single folder called “The Manual” that I throw text documents into whenever I have put a lot of work into planning out a new part of the business. I’m still re-listening (half way through my 3rd time) and applying Juan’s system.  Thanks Kelly and Andrew.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I used to fight the need for systems. I thought they’d be too constraining. Turns out they liberate me. I don’t have to wrestle with the same problems every day, so I get time to think about new ideas.

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com PaulMagee

    Some of the creatives I’ve worked with resent the idea of systems. They too believe that it restricts their creativity. It’s not true, that’s just an ego thing. We like to think we’re super creative and spontaneous in everything we do. But there are way more patterns than differences. A system can still contain elements of variety, sponteneity and even randomness so that the output isn’t boring. McDonalds is the classic example, 95% predictable, in price, cleanliness, speed, menu etc. but they always have at least 1 new menu item available at any one time. I spend half my time trying to remove my ego from the systems I’m building. 

  • http://www.EntrepreneursUnpluggd.com Tim Jahn

    He sure is.  And his weaving in his personal stories always adds to the quality.

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Love it Paul! I call my system the playbook, inspired by football team that need to know what plays to run and when. You might want to transition your Manual to an online source so if you get hacked or have a computer failure you don’t lose everything. I outline some suggestions in my free book on systems which you can get at http://www.kellyazevedo.com/tools

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Very true on the ego! It’s very constraining to think you HAVE TO do everything yourself every time because no one is a unique snowflake like you. It also means you can’t leverage your time and grow your business.

  • http://twitter.com/AymericG Aymeric Gaurat

    http://howtracker.com seems to be a neat way to document your processes (I am not affiliated). What do you guys use?

  • http://rodrigoalexandrecoelho.com Rodrigo Alexandre Coelho

    Just after watch your interview on Mixergy I figured out a way to bring back projects that I have abandoned because I didn’t have enough time to keep them running.
    With your interview I saw ways to outsource the process and bring back to life these old project.
    Thanks a lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1230654 Justine Lam

    Loved this interview with Kelly, a super-star systems engineer who cuts to the chase about how to construct systems and get employees trained. Thank you!

  • Lea

    Fantastic interview Andrew!

    This is a great format Kelly gives to systems. I see how I can implement it immediately to get even more free time from my business.

    One thing this interview made me realize…if you create systems and see how others can benefit from it
    you essentially create 80% of a possible info product.

    What I would REALLY LOVE to see is how Kelly goes about creating a system. I would LOVE for her to have a masterclass on this topic!

  • Anonymous

    Interview was awesome and thinking about it in a company I work generating £35m online and how the web development company used should have documented the processes since now they want to bring it in house it is difficult to even make a start.  So I am going to start in my own role so hand over can be easier although I am not going anywhere.soon.

    @AndrewWarner:disqus your a scum bag

    —————
    Andrew still needs to give us Premier Members badges

  • http://rodrigoalexandrecoelho.com Rodrigo Alexandre

    A master class with Kelly would be great.

  • http://bradonomics.com/profile B?ad

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes these systems interviews. Everyone’s got a different way to build systems and I learn something I can implement after everyone.

    Thank you Andrew. And thank you Kelly.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks Brad. (I like your site’s domain name, by the way.)

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Thanks Brad! Systems work is definitely custom made, it has to work for you and your business or you won’t follow through. I was just coaching with a client today giving my recommendations and helping him find what works best for him!

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    I did love the scum bag discussion mid interview!

    Once you start incorporating systems in your business you’ll see how other businesses can do the same, it makes operations easier for clients, contractors, owners, advertisers and affiliates.

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    It would definitely be a lot of fun to take the Mixergy crowd through my process for creating a system. I’d be willing to set it up with a Premium member for the walk thru and follow up with a month of systems coaching if there’s interest!

    What do you think scum bag, I mean, Andrew?  ;)

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Thanks Justine!

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Absolutely! Interested to hear what results you get in your business from these projects Rodrigo! I’d love to hear via twitter or email (@krazevedo or team@kellyazevedo.com)

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    I cover this in detail in my business playbook which is available free on my site. There’s a mix of software I use now and with my private clients I’ve worked with Basecamp, Backpack, Central Desktop, Asana and Box for storage and tracking and with Jing, Mind Meister and Gliffy for documentation.

    There is no “magic bullet” software, find what works for you and your team will learn to use it.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    ha. I don’t remember going off on a rant. Thanks for being patient, if I did.

  • http://www.kellyazevedo.com Kelly Azevedo

    Hey Mixergy – I decided to answer a bunch of the questions from the comments here and on my blog in my e-zine this week. Sign up at http://www.kellyazevedo.com and I’ll make sure you get all the details. I’ll also be sharing more details on the Mixergy system flow chart and how you can turn it into an action plan with checklists and templates. ~Kelly

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Great idea!

  • http://www.honeymoonletters.com Whitney

    This interview made me think. Thanks Kelly!

  • Pingback: How to Leave Your Business for the Holidays | Content Equals Money

  • Pingback: Systemizing Your Startup 101 [Resource Page]

  • Pingback: Systems for Recording Interviews with Mixergy | She's Got SystemsShe's Got Systems

  • Pingback: Balancing Investment and Instant Gratification - She's Got Systems - She's Got Systems