How to Make your Business a Well-Oiled Machine (It’s Not What You Think!)

Are you a business owner who’s constantly putting out fires and instead wish you could make your business a well-oiled machine? You’re not alone!

Stay tuned if you’re ready to ditch the chaos (and the excuses) and start systemizing your business. We’re breaking down what it really takes to get from chaotic to calm and what doesn’t work (and actually gets you further from your goals).

Not a video person? No problem! Just keep reading. We’ll cover all the main points in this article.

What does it take to build a well-oiled machine in your business?

To understand what you should be doing to systemize, let’s first debunk some common myths.

Myth #1: I need to buy software first!

The number one reason we hear from business owners inside the ProcessDriven Membership is that they need fancy software but can’t afford it.

“I can’t afford Oracle SAP Solutions.”

“I can’t afford an ERP.”

“I can’t afford ClickUp.

The list goes on.

The logic here is, “Well, since I can’t afford that fancy software, I can’t systemize my business. 🤷”

We’ll be the first ones to tell you that’s straight BS (we even made a whole video about it here).

You could have a highly systemized, well-oiled machine of a business on a notepad. Although it can certainly help streamline your business, technology is not a requirement.

Well-oiled businesses are defined by a feeling of ease and calm, not by the software the business owner implements.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 01:31.

Myth #2: Only mature businesses can be organized and systemized.

Stop comparing your business to businesses that are 25, 50, or 100 years old.

In your first year in business, it’s going to be challenging to systemize anything since your business is so new and you’re still not sure what you want your business to look like.

Once you have found your footing and have made it past that initial learning curve, systemizing is just as easy in year three as it is in year 30.

The maturity of your business is not a limiting factor here.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 02:44.

Myth #3: I need an expensive expert to help me build business systems.

Another common myth is that you need to hire an expensive consultant or course. We’ll repeat it for the people in the back:

Buying things does not equate to getting results.

As business owners, we sometimes feel overwhelmed or distressed, and we decide to throw money at the problem in hopes that it’ll solve our problems.

What truly matters is putting the time in. Sure, that service provider or course might help you get to your goals faster, but you don’t need it to get to the destination.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 03:58.

If you’re looking to systemize your operations, define your processes with action-oriented exercises, and equip them with SOPs, automations, delegation, and more — check out our FREE strategy training, The Blueprint, to learn more.

Myth #4: I’m not profitable enough to build business processes.

Inside the ProcessDriven Membership, we’ve heard clients say things like,

“I’m not profitable enough to ever be a well-oiled machine. We’re just trying to make ends meet.”

This is a very dangerous myth. If you never systemize, your profit will never be consistent. Just because your business is new or doesn’t bring in colossal profits does not mean you can’t systemize.

If anything, this should be a sign that you absolutely need to systemize.

As long as you’ve got a good revenue coming in, improving the efficiency of the processes you have to help your customers will actually better serve you.

However, if you currently don’t have good top-line revenue, please do not focus on systemizing your business just yet.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 04:46.

Myth #5: Only organized “Type A” integrators can turn a business into a scalable well-oiled machine!

We’ve heard some, quite frankly, ridiculous excuses as to why a business owner is not systemizing. Things like,

“I’m not Type A.”

“I’m not organized.”

“I’m not systematic.”

News flash: You do not have to be a specific way to systemize your business.

I’m not very systematic in every form of my life. I’m disciplined when it comes to [systemizing] because I know it matters.

Layla at ProcessDriven

There’s a false narrative that says you need to have a specific personality type or personality traits to make your business a well-oiled machine successfully.

We’ve found that the best people to do this are disciplined but also have a good amount of ingenuity and creativity.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 06:23.

The Secret to a Building a “Well Oiled Machine” Business

Now that we’ve gone over what systemizing your business isn’t, let’s go over what it actually is.

All it is is knowing and anticipating what you do when you do it and how you do it. If this is a completely foreign topic to you, we highly encourage you to check out our ClickUp strategy workshop, The Blueprint, first, where we discuss the concept of routine building in detail.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we want to give you some practical advice on how to get closer to anticipating the what, how, and when you need to get things done inside your business and who needs to get them done.

Let’s dive in!

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 07:52.

Step 1. Define what your business does.

First things first, we need to figure out what we do and stick to it. For example, at ProcessDriven, we produce:

  • YouTube videos
  • Blog posts
  • Newsletters
  • Weekly Livestreams for our members
  • Monthly Masterminds for our members
  • Etc.

Now, it’s your turn to write down what your business does. It’s important that we physically get everything we do out of our heads and on paper. (Real or metaphorical paper.)

We actually have an exercise you can utilize to do this in the free ClickUp workshop we mentioned, The Blueprint.

Once you’ve figured out everything you do, it’s time to evaluate. Ask yourself,

“Can we cut anything out of this?”

So often, we see business owners who do 100 different things struggle to systemize their business. It’s a lot easier to systemize one thing versus 100 things. Therefore, figuring out what you can cut out is super important.

To summarize step one:

  • Figure out what you do
  • Make sure it’s actually what you want to do
  • Stick with it
  • Avoid shiny objects
  • Avoid adding things for the sake of adding things
  • Focus on what you actually do

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 08:54.

Step 2. Accept that easy and low-stress operations are our NEW normal.

If there’s anything you should walk away with today, it’s that simple is good. In fact, simple is what you should expect.

When Layla first started ProcessDriven, she used to believe that she needed to feel like things were difficult to feel accomplished. Anything less than difficult made her feel uncomfortable or as if she wasn’t truly doing anything.

This is so not true! Work can (and should) be simple and easy. Ease is what we’re aiming for. Work doesn’t need to be hard every single day.

When you believe work should be difficult, then you are welcoming chaos into your work life. You’ve now taken on the role of a firefighter and your sole purpose is to try to contain the constant fires.

If we simply take the opposite stance and change our expectations — that work should be relaxed at work — all of sudden we don’t have tolerance for that chaos. We then start finding ways to fix that chaos instead of submitting to it.

The one thing you should walk away with here is to accept that ease is our baseline.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 10:16.

Step 3. Prioritize process over projects.

The idea here is that process is standard, predictable, and has a known outcome.

For example, how do you send an email? That’s a process. You should be focusing on the processes you know and try to make them better each time you perform them.

A project, on the other hand, is new and unpredictable. You might know what direction you’re headed in but you might not know the destination.

For example, if you’ve never taken the time to update your website and you’re about to do that for the first time, that’s a project. It’s new and exciting. Since it’s something that you’re not doing so often, you’ll never become extremely good at it because you’re not doing it that often.

If you were a web developer, then it would be a process but since it’s something we are only doing every so often, it’s a project.

Making this clear distinction in our minds and always focusing on developing processes over more projects is a key skill. The more processes — the more predictable steps — that we identify and optimize, the better!

When you do a project, you’re forced to dedicate a lot of time to learning skills that you’re only going to need this one time.

As a business owner, you need to ask yourself,

“Should I invest my time learning skills I’ll only need for a one-time project or should I invest my time on a process that is done weekly?”

You should always choose process over project and focus on building those and implementing new projects only when necessary.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 12:04.

Step 4. Be proactive instead of reactive to reclaim control over your day.

Routines versus Tasks is very similar to Process versus Project (Step 3).

For example, here at ProcessDriven, we have things called Issues. These are unforeseen emergencies like a link breaking or a customer needing help. These unforeseen emergencies are called Issue Tasks.

Let’s use the example of a link being broken. If we noticed that links frequently break and we wanted to be proactive (versus reactive), we could create a weekly process for someone on the team to go in and check for all website errors and fix any that are broken before a customer has to report them (Routine Task).

Since this process happens every week, we prevent the need for those one-off tasks reacting to emergencies (Issue Tasks). Now our week is dictated by the predictable routines we know we have to do versus a bunch of reactive tasks being thrown our way last minute.

That way, we’re building the backbone of our business of repetitive routines that actually help our business become more stable and prevent issues that would affect team and customer experiences.

Remember: Proactive (Routine Tasks) is better than Reactive (Issue Tasks).

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 14:18.

Pro Tip: Proactive routines are much easier to delegate than reactive issue tasks.

Once you build those Routines, you can then delegate them!

Now every time a link breaks, someone else is responsible for that process and you can now focus on something else that’s going to move the business forward.

You can view proactive routines as your force field of defense against all the uncertainty in the world.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 16:21.

“Well-oiled machine” is a journey and not a destination.

As is true with most things, nothing is going to happen overnight. It’s also worth noting that once you do get your business to be a well-oiled machine, things will continue to happen. Your business isn’t going to run flawlessly with zero issues forever.

But if we keep our end goal in mind as well as these four steps, the next time a fire comes up, we can at least start thinking about how to digest it and how to prevent it from happening with the implementation of Routine Tasks.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 16:45.

Watch OUR free training on this for more exercises

If you’re curious to learn:

  • How to define what your business does in detail
  • How to use that information to build strong, proactive routines and processes
  • SOPs, Wikis, and other reference guidelines
  • How to make your business more resilient to issues

Check out our FREE ClickUp strategy tutorial, The Blueprint, here.

Until next time, enjoy the process!

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ProcessDriven helps small teams turn chaos into process. The ProcessDriven Approach™️ combines software expertise with practical process-first strategies that have helped 1,600+ teams build a scalable foundation of business systems.