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Systemize First. Scale Second.

By July 23, 2016October 20th, 20236 Comments

There is one thing that is common among most business owners – they dream about how big their business may grow.

Not everyone. Some are perfectly happy reaching a modest goal and maintaining that level of activity throughout their working life. They’re simply happy not losing what they have.

But so many others (me included) are excited about the potential of growing their business. We wake up some mornings thinking about our business. It’s our passion, our art, our purpose. Sure, we have other priorities in life (God, family, friends) but our business is top of mind almost every day.

One of the things that fuel the passion is a question.

“How big could this thing grow?”

That question is exciting. It can feel like having a winning lottery ticket and not knowing how much you’ve won. Is it a million-dollar ticket, ten million, or maybe just a dollar? But it’s not just about the money – it’s also about the reach you can have, the impact you can make, and the legacy you can leave.

Excitement and enthusiasm are necessary to fuel business growth.  At the same time, that same excitement about your business’s potential can cause problems. Big problems. I have seen it before in my own business and in others.

It’s a classic case of getting the cart ahead of the horse.  Not keeping first things first.  We grow before we’re ready.  And the growth can lead to collapse because our business isn’t built on a strong foundation.

My company is growing again.  But we have a new credo that stays in front of me every day when I’m getting caught up in the excitement of growth.

Systemize first.  Scale second.

We want to scale up our business, to take what we do very well to another level.  But the systems we have today (or lack of systems in some cases) are probably not the systems we need if we’re going to 10x our business.

Without proper systems in place, more volume in our business could lead to some problems.  Things like simple errors, missed opportunities, staff burnout, disappointed clients, and general chaos.  With systems in place, we should have an engine that runs equally well at 1,000 rpm or 3,000 rpm – it just produces that much more result.

Today, in the midst of the natural growth at our company, we’re working on systems.  A lot.  As those systems are developed, tested, and integrated into our workflow, our days run more smoothly.  Our team works in greater harmony.  Our pace increases but not our stress.  Our opportunity grows but not our risk.

With better systems in place, we’re ready to scale up.  And the question of how big we can grow becomes that much more exciting.

Build your business on a solid foundation and you may reach higher than you ever dreamed.


  • Systems are vital, as I’ve learned the HARD way after 18 years of running the show! Great short blog on the important things. I’ve seen all too many businesses that are missing on the systems/processes that need to be in place. Otherwise, missed opportunities and lost customers are a direct result!!

  • Could you be more specific and share some of the best systems you have used: accounting, staff scheduling, tracking sales, events and open houses or community events?

    • Mike says:

      Peg – I would be very curious to hear others’ comments on your question. Hopefully we’ll get a conversation started for you. I’m a big fan of Quickbooks Online for accounting – it’s simple to use, can be accessed by you or your accountant from anywhere, and it keeps getting better. I don’t have a recommendation for you on staff scheduling or the other things you mentioned. One suggestion that I would offer for events and marketing it building a strong email list of people you connect with to stay in touch, sort of like the seniorcaremike newsletter that goes along with this blog. You can keep people informed about things going on at your facility but also offer valuable tips on caring for an older family member, general health care tips or more to always be on their mind when they need your services or someone they meet. You may want to consider a simple CRM, like Highrise (which is what I use), or one of the more industry specific tools like Yardi and others. I don’t have a lot of experience with industry specific tools – they are often priced relatively high and not affordable to smaller providers. Please check back here again soon because I hope to hear from others who read your comment. Thanks Peg. Mike

  • This article caught my attention because just the other day I was listening to an internet marketing podcast talking about building a digital marketing agency that gets so big that you can sell it, and the blogger said the exact same thing you said Mike – SYSTEMIZE first.

    Create replicable processes and systems for operating the business and dealing with challenges and it becomes an extremely valuable asset.

    So in that regard great write up will definitely be sharing this!

  • The responsibilities of providing great care always come first in senior care. However, this often leaves marketing at the bottom of the to-do list and commonly put off until tomorrow.
    Systems for marketing are critical in for consistency and continuity. They also guide staff members in what to do and help new hires to hit the ground running.
    A system can be a simple as visual cues on “tour stops” that remind staff about what to say or support the theme of the tour stop.
    I love Mike’s recommendation for using a good CRM and staying in touch. Critical to enhancing word-of-mouth marketing.
    We believe websites should have systems that make them easily update-able with new content (Activity Scrapbook, Caregiver Tips, testimonials and cards) that drives keep-in-touch programs. These updates provide great reasons to contact your three key lists – inquries, people who like you (family, friends, staff, clients ad vendors), and professionals who serve seniors. This gets people talking and sharing. And the website clicks improve SEO.

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