June 29, 2021

What's an Operations Systems & Why Do I Need One?

What's an Operations Systems & Why Do I Need One?

In today’s episode on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, business systems expert Courtney Elmer reveals the seven elements every online business owner needs to streamline their back-end business operations and set up an operational system that works for you.

Wish you knew how to do a better job of streamlining your business operations?

Tired of wasting time and money hiring and training help, only to wind up back at square one — doing it all yourself? 

Wish you could stop spending your time on annoying busywork that sucks your energy and keeps you out of your zone of genius?

Did you know the degree to which you streamline your business operations is the degree to which you'll experience real freedom in your business? It’s true. 


  • The seven elements every business operational system needs

  • Why growing your online business without an operating system will take twice as much time and effort

  • Why NOT to hire an online business manager 

  • How you can work step-by-step with me over the course of the next year to put these systems in place in your online business

If this episode inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.





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© Copyright 2022 | The EffortLESS Life®


Welcome back to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. This is Episode 76, and the final episode in this special series we've been doing about the four systems you need in your business as an online business owner--which teaches you how to set up an operational system or streamline business operations. I gave an overview of these systems back in Episode 72. Then in Episode 73, we dove deep into your Visibility System — what it is, why you need it. In Episode 74, my special guest, Amanda Abella, crushed it in sharing everything you need to know about having a Sales System that converts. Then in Episode 75, most recently, we talked about what the heck a Deliverability System is, and how it can help you earn repeat business from your students and customers. 

Today, we're diving into everyone's favorite, the system by which you operate your business: an Operations System or how to streamline your business operations. I'm being a little bit of a smart alec here. As my mom always said to me growing up, Courtney, it is your mouth that gets you in trouble. I’ve learned to take that as a compliment, because it means I talk about the things that no one wants to hear — which is what you need, if you want to be successful in this online industry. 

An operational system has to do with your billing, your financials, your taxes, the legal stuff, logistics, standard operating procedures. It also has to do with some really fun stuff like team growth,  hiring and onboarding, team culture, accountability, metrics and more. By the time you finish listening today, my goal is for you to begin to see the Operational System as the lifeblood of your business and streamlining business operations. Not something that you push off to the backburner, but something that you need to put your focus on in the forefront because without it, things might work, but they're not going to work well. 

The degree to which you streamline your business operations, is the degree to which you'll experience freedom in your business — freedom from all of that annoying busy work that sucks your energy and keeps you out of your zone of genius. So if you're ready to experience that freedom and how to implement an effective operational system, keep listening, because that's all coming up next. 

INTRO TRACK:  Globally ranked among the top shows in business and education, we're known for one thing, helping overworked entrepreneurs like you learn how to run your business like a true visionary leader, because when you get the right systems support, and structure in place, you can spend more time in your zone of genius. So if you're tired of listening to today's business influencers teach these same old worn out marketing strategies that aren't making you any money, it's time to take a look under the hood of your business and fix the engine itself. Because the truth is, you don't have to work as hard as you are right now to scale beyond six figures and create the greater influence, income, and impact that you deserve. The secret to scaling starts on the back end of your business. It’s about having an operational system in place or improving your business operations. This is the system's Made Simple podcast. 

Before we dive in today, I want to thank our featured listener this week, Chanel, who says, Courtney has a wealth of knowledge with an unbelievable passion to help entrepreneurs stress less in their business and live in balance and harmony. She simplifies information and gives steps to take in a way that's realistic, and so easy to apply to everyday life and business. Chanel, thank you so much. I can't tell you how much it means to me to read these reviews. What's most inspiring for me is to know that this is making a difference in your life. It's helping you change things by setting up an operational system. It's helping you think about your business in a whole new way. So Chanel, thank you. And for those of you listening who have not left a review yet, what’s the deal with that? Just kidding. Go ahead, scroll down your Apple app, tap the five stars, and write a review. It could be one sentence. Just share with me something that inspires you about the show, something that lifts you up, something that you've taken away from this show that's helped you change something in your life and business, I want to hear it.

So back in the day, I used to work as a business manager for another entrepreneur. Now, I have always had an entrepreneurial streak. But it wasn't until later in life that I really did something with it. Now, unless you want to count making blueberry jam and selling that on the street corner when I was about 11 years old as my first entrepreneurial venture, I really didn't do anything in terms of starting a business until much later in life. I went the traditional route: go to college, get your degree, get a good job, make sure it has benefits, work for somebody else, build up a nest egg, buy your first house — that whole thing. I went down that road because I was conditioned to believe that that was what you had to do. So I started working for someone as their business manager. 

And when I first went into their company, I went in and I said, “Here’s what we're going to do. We're going to sit down, and we're going to have a workshop on how to develop an operational system. We need focus days to take a look at everything that is currently broken in your business, and how we're going to fix it.”

Some of the problems in that particular business had to do with front end stuff like sales and marketing, but a lot had to do with back end stuff, including everyday business operations or having a lack of an operational system in place or not knowing how to streamline business operations. This is the general category for the stuff in business that most business owners don't want to touch. “Operations” is like the bucket for everything that you don't want to do in your business. 

Everything I'm going to share with you here in this episode is outsource-able. But in order to outsource it right, you need to have the business systems in place first. And that is the purpose of today's episode. Because most entrepreneurs make a big mistake when it comes to business operations or setting up an effective operational system. They don’t have any kind of operational system in place to begin with. Can you imagine trying to operate your computer without an operating system? Come on, they call it an operating system for a reason! You could not get any work done, because your computer wouldn't work. Those annoying updates that Apple or Microsoft sends you every so often? They’re updating your operating system. It's the thing that runs in the background, so that you can do what you do in the foreground. In business, it's no different. You need to have an operational system in place.

And a lot of entrepreneurs don't know that they need an Operating System, or it's the stuff that doesn't come naturally to them so they have a tendency to put it off or ignore it. For example, I used to believe that numbers were my nemesis. I hated numbers. I was always bad at math. I even went so far as to get a degree in English literature, so I could avoid taking calculus classes in college. Bet you didn’t know that about me! So numbers and I did not get along. I had this belief that numbers didn’t come naturally to me, therefore, I'm not going to pay any attention to them in my business. Then inevitably, later on I realized how not paying attention to those numbers was causing me to lose money, because I didn't have any clue about the numbers. A lot of entrepreneurs operate their business by this same belief system. 

They think, “I'm here to do what I am good at, and do work I love.  I am not good at numbers, and I am not good at organization, and I'm not great at procedures, so I'm just going to do what I do and figure the rest out as I go and fly by the seat of my pants.” They make the unconscious choice to run their business that way--all which impacts a business negatively. I ran my business that way, too, for a long time. The truth is, that's a belief that “I'm not organized,” or “I'm not good at math,” or “I'm not good at tech” — the list goes on. I There are so many stories that we tell ourselves in business, that just aren’t true, and they’re holding you back. Chances are, you probably already know this. 

If you continue operating your business based on your current belief system, it will continue yielding the same results no matter how hard you try otherwise to change the results that you're getting. If you're not happy with the results that you're getting, you have to change the belief that's driving the behavior that's creating the result and start streamlining business operations. This is Psychology 101. So when you run your business, and you make that choice to run your business by the seat of your pants, and you feel scattered, and you're disorganized, and you don't have these back-end systems in place, then you'll miss out on potential business and opportunities. Those opportunities will pass you right by and worse, it's going to feel incredibly difficult to know what action to take to bring about the result you want. So having an operational system in place is critical to running your business successfully. 

If you don't have a clear read on what's working, and what's not working, you'll likely fall into the trap of doing whatever feels urgent at the moment. You don't have clarity on what's truly important. Many entrepreneurs will try to throw money at the problems in their business. I will spare you the soapbox today. But throwing the money at the problems in your business creates more problems. It doesn't actually solve the problem. It just exacerbates the problem. I've made this mistake. I have hired people to fix problems in my business that were my responsibility to fix. And hindsight is always 20-20. Throwing money at your problems only makes the problems worse in the long run, so having an operational system in place is crucial to success. 

A mistake I see other online business owners making is outsourcing these items before they have a system in place. When that occurs, the problem is that you are now putting your business in someone else's hands. Meaning that it's their systems, and their approach to doing things that they're applying to your business. 

Let’s say you hire an online business manager, without first putting these systems in place for yourself. I’m going to predict the future here for you just for a minute. When you and that online business manager decide to part ways, that online business manager will walk away and you will not know what they have set up in your business or how it runs because they were the one running it. So what I'm saying here is not that you have to be the one running these systems in your business forever and ever. But you are ultimately responsible for your business’ success. And you need to know enough to know that if someone else was running these systems and that person were to leave for whatever unexpected reason, you would still be in charge of your business because you would know how those systems run and you’d know how to train the next person. So if you outsource before you build the system yourself, it’s going to be a struggle. So it’s important that you create the operational system yourself and then you teach the operating systems to your employees. 

So in summary, if you hire a business manager who brings their systems in and they leave, you're going to be stuck because you won’t know what to do. On the flip side, if you have not set up these systems yourself, it's going to be a struggle to outsource them because it will be a struggle to clearly communicate exactly what needs to get done. 

So our operational system has seven elements. It includes,

  • Brand: including your brand aesthetics, brand voice, your brand guide, your website, and your SEO efforts. 
  • Finances: bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, profit & loss 
  • Legal: contracts, terms, privacy policy, trademarking
  • Team: hiring & onboarding, offboarding, training, team performance, team culture
  • Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP’s: how you do what you do
  • Tool Stack: What tools are you using? What email software are you using? What programs are you using to host your courses? What other tools are you using to do what you do? 
  • Scorecard: The metrics that make your business run; this is the dashboard of your business.

Imagine driving your car without a dashboard. Maybe if you knew where you were going, you might not necessarily need to look down at the speedometer and see how fast you're going or worry about running out of gas. But if you're preparing for a long road trip, and you get in the car and all of a sudden you did not have that dashboard to tell you if your engine was overheating, or that you’re about to get stuck on the side of the road because your tank is almost empty, that'd be a big problem. 

It’s sad to see so many business owners making this mistake because it’s such a simple thing to fix! Too many online business owners are flying by the seat of their pants, trying to reach their destination — maybe it’s crossing that six figure mark, maybe it's getting to the seven figure mark — without a dashboard to know if they're on track. When you create this dashboard for your business, then you know exactly what metrics that you're tracking week to week and those metrics will tell you if you're on track or if you're off track. Knowing where you're off track will help you determine what you need to do to bring yourself back on track, just like your car would when the check engine light comes on. You might pull over to the side of the road, open up the hood, and notice your radiator needs some water, so you put water in the radiator, and then you keep going. Same thing. Streamlining your business operations will serve you and your business well. 

That is why this is so important. You've got to have an operational system for this. We train all of our team members on the metrics that they're responsible for, how to set their own goals, to grow those numbers, and how to stay accountable to those metrics. It creates so much freedom in business, because no longer do I have to be responsible for all the metrics in my business, I can allow other people to support me and take a share in that ownership, and take a share in that responsibility of tracking and growing their metrics which is what keeps everybody accountable. And guess what, whenever you have these metrics, and you're training people to become accountable to the metrics, the benefit of that for you is that you no longer have to hold people accountable. The metrics don't lie. Numbers don't lie. And they will tell you if that person is performing, or not. It’s that simple. 

Another reason these metrics are so important, that we didn’t dive as deep into here in this episode series, is that you also need a system for accountability. You need a system for accountability so you know who's doing what, and whether it's getting done. It’s the standard by which you hold yourself and your employees accountable. I call it a team culture of accountability. It's just as critical if not more so than all of the systems that we've been talking about. This is a system within the system — it falls under your operating system, because it has to do with your team culture, and it has to do with these metrics. 

Now, I know that when you hear things like finances, and legal stuff, and tech tools, and standard operating procedures, it is hard for some people to know how that translates to their bottom line. 

How does having all of those things in place help me make more money? How is that going to help me have an impact? How can I streamline my business operations?

What it's going to do is it's going to free up your time to be the Visionary Leader of your business, to spend more time growing your brand, to spend more time gaining brand awareness and cultivating new leads, and delivering and doing what you do best. The operational system in your business is like the operating system of your body. 

So this is such a perfect analogy for business is that when you don't have this operating system running in the background, then you have to focus on it because stuff won’t get done. This is where we see a lot of people getting stuck in their business, bogged down by all the busy work behind the scenes because they don't have these operational systems in place. It prevents them from getting out and doing whatever it is they're good at. Having an operational system makes running your business so much easier. It keeps you out of the weeds, it keeps you from breaking down on the side of the road, it helps you stay in your zone of genius. 

Everyone's always saying you need to spend more time there, be happy, be fulfilled, follow your passion, follow your heart, whatever. But how would you actually do that? This is how. This is what gets everything operating smoothly on the backend, so that you can stay focused on what makes you money, and on what you enjoy doing. We teach these systems-driven principles across the board, whether you are in our mastermind program, whether you're in our podcasting program, whatever program you are in, what you will be learning is systems driven, strategy driven, and has to do with creating leverage in your business and saving you time because time is a limited resource. 

Having operational systems in your business helps you circumvent the limitations of time. By putting these processes in place then learning how to automate, outsource, and delegate them, it will save you hundreds of hours of time spent on trial and error, and it’ll save you thousands of dollars from making expensive mistakes trying to solve these problems the wrong way. 

All of these systems that we’ve covered here these past few weeks, I’ll teach you how to set up in your business, including that system for accountability for you and for your team, and how to set up your business dashboard inside of our mastermind program, the Visionary Leader Incubator™. 

I created this program because I’ve worked within too many businesses that were broken. Then after starting my own business, I recognized that too few people were teaching how critical it is for your long term success that you get these systems in place. Otherwise you will bog yourself down with busy work, you will be focused on things that are unimportant, you will not make as much money, and you will ultimately burn yourself out. I don't want that for you. You have a dream. You're here to help people. That's why you started your business in the first place.

But right now, all the details that go into running that business are draining you because you haven’t streamlined your business operations. It's draining your energy. It's draining your time, it's draining your resources. And you're feeling rundown. If this is you, and if you want to learn more about how you can work with me over the course of the next year to get these systems in place in your business, then send us an email: Hello -at- theeffortlesslife.co 

Our customer experience team will hook you up with the private link to apply so together we can take a look at whether this program is a right fit for you, and if you're a right fit for the program.

Coming up next week on the show, we are diving into personal boundaries. As a visionary leader. This is a topic that gets me fired up. It is one that we all struggle with, don't we as entrepreneurs, I know, I've been in those shoes. I still struggle with that sometimes. 

But what I want to share with you in next week's episode is so important to your ability to show up as a visionary leader and have an operational system in place. And it is the things that I have put in place in my own life and in my own business that has allowed me to have time to serve my family and be a mom, and serve my clients and students and lead my team to greatness. It starts with having personal boundaries. Chances are you already know that here on the show, we care deeply about the human running the business. It's not just about getting the systems in place because systems are not the holy grail of business. They will help you do what you do better. But the point is helping you shine is the visionary leader that you're meant to be and having the right operational system in place. So next week's episode is dedicated to helping you do that. I will see you back here then until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.