Many business owners and entrepreneurs often can’t be bothered to put in a system. This is a mistake, David Jenyns believes, and in this episode, he discusses why you need to start systematizing your business. David is a systems devotee who went on to found systemHUB.com and started a movement called SYSTEMology. Today, he joins Michael Zipursky to discuss the benefits of systematizing and what you need to do to start the process. We get a look at David’s insights on systemization and the need for a critical workflow. Listen in and learn to free yourself from your business by systemizing it.
I’m very excited to have David Jenyns joining us. David, welcome.
Michael, thanks for having me.
David, you and I were chatting before. We always enjoy our conversations and have known each other now for quite some time. It’s great to have you back on. You were on the show a long time ago. At that point, we featured your story more around the SEO consulting business that you had. You’re based outside of Melbourne, Australia. You walked us through how you build that business and how you later got yourself out of that business by putting systems and people in place. I want to focus more on your business, which is called SYSTEMology. You have a software platform for that. You also have a team of SYSTEMologists or people that you’ve certified to teach this and implement it into other organizations.
Before we get into the details of that, I want to start us off by talking about the importance of systems. Many consultants have this belief, and I certainly did years ago in the earlier stage. As you’re a smaller consulting firm and it might be a solo consultant, you don’t necessarily think that you need systems. I’ve completely reversed my stance and belief on that over the years because I’ve seen that systems are integral. They create massive value even if you are a solo consultant or you work with a couple of contractors. Let’s go over to you. How do you view systems? What are your thoughts and beliefs around systems for different stages or sizes of consulting types of businesses?
All businesses are a collection of systems. It’s important to be able to identify those systems. I like to think about business as one big system. Underneath that, you’ve got a range of subsystems which might be your marketing, sales, delivery and finance systems. Within each of those areas, you can keep drilling down and you’ll find underneath each of those different areas that there’s a handful of systems that deliver the bulk of the result for that subsystem.
Those systems are there and they exist, whether you document them or not. You have a way of doing things. Where a lot of consultants get wrong or head down a different track with regards to systems is they have all of these preconceived notions on what systems are. They think they are these in-depth processes, line by line, bullet by bullet, screenshotted epic documents that take weeks to prepare. Oftentimes, that’s what someone thinks an SOP or a system is.
They go, “I don’t need that because I’m a consultant. It’s just me. No one’s going to be able to follow those because I’m doing it anyway. I don’t have a team. What’s the point?” Part of what I try and help them do is to change their perspective on what a system is. A system could be something as simple as a short Loom or a Zoom recording of you doing a particular task. It could be a small checklist that says, “When this inquiry comes in, I’ll email off this template. I add them into my database.”
It could be very high level. Particularly when you’re smaller, it’s about becoming aware of these systems that are happening and capturing their high level. It starts to infuse systems thinking into your business early on. That’s the time to do it when you’re small. It’s very difficult to try and insert systems into your business and systems thinking as you grow and grow. The culture gets set inside your business and you bring on new team members.
If from day one, you say, “This is how I issue out an invoice in MYOB. Here’s a short two-minute Loom video showing you how it’s done.” Right from that day, you’re programming into your team that you have a way of doing things, which is critical when you want to grow and scale your consultancy business beyond you.
The other part of this too that I see as a big benefit for consultants is even if you’re solo, going through the process of documenting how you go about doing what you do can help you to identify ways to improve, to essentially identify inefficiencies and waste, and then to create greater efficiency. You get to look at, “Here’s the process that I’m going through. Does this make the most sense? Is there a way to make it shorter, deliver it faster, and create a better result?”All businesses are a collection of systems. That is why it's important to be able to identify those systems. Click To Tweet
Most consultants probably don’t get into the business of consulting with the idea of selling their business. If you are doing everything yourself in your business and you don’t have systems, SOPs or people that you can bring in to help you to deliver or to run your business, then you don’t have anything of value that you can sell. It’s not possible because you are the business. You remove yourself from it and then there’s no value.
Even if you’re not thinking about selling now, I believe having systems will, number one, help you to make your business more efficient, therefore, likely more profitable. Number two, you’ll also probably be able to deliver greater results for your clients. You’re viewing the system of how you interact with clients or whatever you’re doing. You can then strengthen and improve that, therefore, creating better results for clients.
Three, having the systems in place allows you to then bring in team members or people when you need them. Now you can say, “Here’s how I go about doing this. Can you do this?” That process becomes easier. The fourth would be you’re making your business more valuable because you’ve documented how you go about doing things. Does that sound about right to you, David? Am I missing anything there or anything else you want to add to that?
One thing that jumps out at me with the consultant is when you’re small and solo, you’re doing the invoicing, sales, marketing, delivery, everything. Generally speaking, there are some areas in the business that as a consultant, you might not like to do. You might not like the admin of setting up a project, the selling component or hopping on social media and consistently posting.
There are a certain number of tasks that need to happen for your business to function. You need to market consistently to get that awareness, attention and leads. You have to sell consistently to make sure that you’re closing. It’s not this feast-famine situation that a lot of consultants go through. What tends to happen is the consultant will ignore the areas that they might be weak or don’t enjoy while they’ve got a client.
It’s not until that client finishes up or moves on or whatever that they start to scramble. They have to think, “I’ve got to do this and that.” Part of getting a system in place as well is it helps you to identify parts of the business that aren’t getting the attention and the love but are required. You can create a system and process and then makes it easy to plug in an admin person or a salesperson to help with that piece that you may or may not like.
I see it all the time with consultants. They start to self-sabotage because they don’t like the onboarding process or the setup process. They’re in sales mode, talking to a lead and trying to close someone. In their brain, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, they’re pushing the client away, not wanting to sell them because they know deep down that’s going to equal pain. They now have to deliver the work and do the work, “I’m already full. I’m already stressed out. Do I want to add another one in the mix here?” There are little things that go on, particularly when you’re solo. Getting your systems and processes down and identified is the first step to reducing that bottleneck and opening it up so that you can take on more capacity. That’s a biggie for consultants.
To add a little more context or maybe a bit of an illustrative example, this is relevant if you are a solo consultant. One of our clients in our Clarity Coaching Program ran a very healthy seven-figure consulting business. As I had conversations with him, it became evident that he was still spending time in areas of the business that he didn’t enjoy that much but also wasn’t high value for him.
I said, “Why are you doing this?” He’s like, “I don’t know. I ended up doing it.” What we talked through was like, “Let’s get a system in place. Let’s have you document it.” One of the many things that you teach is to clearly document how you are doing this. What are the steps that you go through, get it off and you can teach somebody else to do that. That frees him up to go out and do the things that he not only enjoys doing in the business but creates a lot more value.
Why don’t we shift into the Critical Client Flow? This is an exercise that you developed. We’ve gone through this. You and I have had conversations around this. You’ve demonstrated this live to a group of our Clarity Coaching Clients and one of our masterminds that you joined us on. I’d love it if you could take a few minutes and walk everyone through what the Critical Client Flow is. Why is it so important? Maybe break it down so people could start to think through this and maybe even attempt it themselves to begin with.
Anybody reading this now can follow along with this exercise. It’s a simple exercise that will give you excellent clarity. It’s called the Critical Client Flow. You need an A4 bit of paper and think about it in terms of your business. What we’re going to do is describe and capture the client and the business journey of delivering your core product or service. We start off and we first identify who’s your target audience. We identify what is the primary product or service that you’re selling them.
As a consultant, I always like to think in terms of what product would be a gateway to the rest of your products and services? What is the first thing that you would sell to your dream client? Start there. Maybe it’s a deep dive discovery call or a certain number of sessions you sell with the client. Think about what that is.
We map the journey from grabbing the prospect’s attention. How do you grab their attention? In this exercise, I always tell people, “Capture what you’re currently doing, not what you would like to be doing.” If you go, “I’d love to be doing social media but I’m not really doing social media.” Don’t put it down on the Critical Client Flow. You might go, “I get referral business. I do a little bit of SEO. I speak on stage or podcast,” or whatever it is. Capture what you’re currently doing in that first line.Getting a system in place helps you identify parts of the business that aren't getting the attention and the love but are required. Click To Tweet
In the book SYSTEMology, I have a little template that there’s not that much space. There’s only room for 2 or 3 words in each one of these boxes and it’s by design. You don’t overcomplicate your business here, but you start off thinking, “How do you get people’s attention?” We move down the page and we think, “How do we handle the incoming inquiry?” When someone is interested, are they filling out a form on your website? Are they calling you? Are they sending you an email?
Write a few words in each of these boxes as you move down the page. The next thing is what happens with that inquiry? Do you have a qualification process? Are you hopping on the phone or you’re getting them to fill out a questionnaire? Keep moving down the page. Once they are qualified, what do you do? How do you then sell them? What does your sales process look like? Do you have a Zoom webinar or a Zoom session with them where you explore further?
What happens after that? Do you then prepare a proposal? As you’re moving down the page and these are boxes, there are 2 or 3 words in each box. We only capture what we’re doing. How do we issue out a proposal? How do you take the money? Do you invoice a deposit or 50% upfront or something, or is it all on completion? Keep moving down the page. How do you onboard the client when they pay? Do you enter them into your CRM or do you have project management software? How do you loop in your team at that point if you’ve got one or contractors? How do you get it onto the calendar?
Move down the page. The one underneath that would be, how do you deliver the core product or service? By design, this one keeps it at a very high level. Finally, how do you deliver the product, hand it over and get them to repeat or upsell them into another program? By visually mapping this down, you should be able to get it to a point where you can go to someone who doesn’t know your business.
You can show them this A4 bit of paper and they should be able to follow along and go, “I understand your business. This is clear to me when you talk it through.” That’s the sign that you’ve got it correct. Sometimes when you do this and there are patches and things that are missing. That’s a little warning sign as well like, “I don’t have a way of onboarding clients.” That’s a little bit of a warning sign for you that that’s probably going to be a problem area.
This is a map of everything that you do to bring people into your world. How do you move them from being interested in having that conversation into your sales process of becoming a client, onboarding that new client, delivering the product or service and then handing it off, or what happens at the end of that engagement? The powerful thing about this is once you have that, you can now start to figure out if something is missing or how do you improve.
From your perspective and in your experience, you’re doing this with many different business owners, what’s the area of greatest value? Let’s say somebody has now mapped this out. They’ve been listening to what you’ve been taking them through. They have gone like, “I do these things to bring people to having a conversation. I’m doing some marketing or LinkedIn posts or advertising. Now I’m having a conversation. I don’t have a script for my conversation. Maybe I should develop that.” How would you suggest that people start to use that map of the process they’re taking people through?
The whole premise of this first step is to answer the question, “If I’m going to systemize my business, where do I start? What are the 10 to 15 most important?” By identifying the Critical Client Flow, we identify the top ten systems that are important because this is all about how do you deliver and how do you make money? That’s worthy of systemizing.
To narrow in further, the two things I think about is, where the pain is? As a consultant, you have a sense already. When you do this map, you’ll get an idea. You’re like, “I don’t have any leads. I’ve got to think about my lead generation systems,” or you’ll go, “I can get enough leads because I’m great at marketing, but I can’t seem to close anyone. It’s a sales issue.” You might go, “It comes to the delivery and I’m already maxed out. I’ve got full clients. I can’t take on any more. Maybe we need to narrow into the operations.”
There’s usually a couple of ways. Going to where the pain is, that’s one thing. Also, the other one that sometimes you can consider if that’s not immediately obvious is what areas do you avoid as a consultant. When you look at this Critical Client Flow, there’s a certain area where you go, “I’m not going to look at this piece or that piece.” It will become more obvious to the person and it varies significantly.
I’ve worked with some consultants that are great at marketing and they have great lead flow because they have existing businesses. They’re bolting on products and services to their existing business. Their lead generation method, they have two. It might be referral business and social media or ad words or something like that. We don’t go into much depth in generating or creating more systems around lead generation because they have enough leads. They go, “My problem is delivery. I have more leads than I can handle.” Let’s then focus on your delivery systems. It will depend on the person. Oftentimes, it’s the biases and the strengths of the business owner. You want to go to where they are weakest and start there.
Let’s say it’s the founding consultant or the founder of the firm, maybe it’s a solo consultant or somebody with a team. Should they be doing the actual documenting and development of the systems like writing it line by line since they’re doing that work most often? Should somebody else be helping them do it? What’s your best practice to start developing these systems?
If you’re solo and it’s just you, then you’re best off recording videos on everything that you do with regards to those steps. When you have a sales process, start recording all of your sales calls and put all of those sales calls into a Google Drive folder or Dropbox or something like that. That’s your system to start. At least then, later on, we’re giving someone something to be able to sink their teeth in, look at what you’re doing, and pull the system from that.
As you start to grow and if you’re running a consulting business with a small team, the more that you can take the business owner and the founder out of the equation for the documentation, the better. If you’ve got someone who is handling the incoming inquiry, find out what they are doing. Identify who on your team is doing the task to a great standard and capture that.
That’s another reason why people get these misconceptions about business systems. They try and make them perfect. They say, “I would love to be doing this or that.” Sometimes you get the biggest wins by going, “How are we doing it? Let’s consistently do that. Let’s make sure that’s not dependent on anyone.” That alone is a tremendous breakthrough and it helps you to create a baseline. You can then optimize, improve and tweak after that.
The issue with the business owner or the founder doing it right upfront is they want to make it perfect. They want to make a tweak here or there. They are perfectionists. They’ve built this business from the ground up. That stalls them from getting it done. They get caught up and don’t see an immediate ROI for their effort on that work. In their head they go, “There are systems. They’re important. They’re not urgent. I’ve got 100 other things I should be doing,” and then they never get around to it. That’s why I always go, “Keep it simple. Record videos of you doing the task, organizing and save that into a central location.” That is infinitely better than what a lot of consultants do.
Let’s say that somebody has gone through that process. They’ve identified the Critical Client Flow. They’ve listed out where their leads are coming from, what their sales processes are like, the onboarding. They’ve done all that. Maybe they’ve also identified areas that they don’t have any real system around it. They’re not even doing it properly, so now they can go to work on that. They might also be able to go, “I’ve now developed a system and written down the things that I do here.”
They can go out and try to find somebody like an admin to help them to take over that or bring some expert in or someone to run that area of their business. How else are people using systems? Once they’ve documented them, it goes into some online repository, whether you have systemHUB or somebody putting something into Google Drive or whatever it is. How should people think about getting the most out of the systems once they’ve documented them?
There are a couple of things that start to happen. The biggest and the most important thing about systems is you’re looking to create this cultural shift inside your team and you as the founder. You need to get to the point where you realize how important these systems are and you’re going to build a systems-driven business. Once that happens, that’s a big part of it. The next piece is thinking about how you keep the system’s front and center.
Oftentimes, if they’re just sitting in a Google Drive somewhere, the only time anyone ever looks at them is maybe when a new team member comes onboard. That’s very different from keeping it right under someone’s nose by having a project management platform. Every time a task is assigned to them, there is a system associated with that task if it’s a recurring task.
You don’t create systems for one soft task like, “Mr. Tech Assistant, I need you to edit this WordPress page over here and change this sentence here because it’s wrong.” We don’t create a system for that necessarily. You might have a system for, “Once a month, I need my tech person to hop in and update all of my plugins and clear out my spam comments.”
You look for recurring tasks. You create a system for it and this is the 80/20. We find that 20% of the systems deliver 80% of the result. We get it into some project management platform so that it can be assigned to someone. There is a clear person of responsibility and a clear due date of when that needs to be done. There is a system attached to that task.
If you get to that point, that’s the holy grail. There’s no confusion and discussion. If something goes wrong, the first question is, “Did you follow the system?” If they followed the system, fantastic. It was a problem with the system. If something goes wrong, we need to tweak the system. We’ll fix it. We’ll make sure that never happens again.Capture what you're doing, not what you would like to be doing. Click To Tweet
If they didn’t follow the system, that’s another discussion around, “This is the way we do things here. I want you to follow the system until you get it right. I don’t care if you’ve got the system open or not, as long as you’re executing it as we’ve outlined it. If you can’t do it as we’ve outlined it, I want you to have the system open until you can get it right.” It becomes infinitely easier for you and your operations team to manage team members if there are clear expectations.
In my mind, systems equal freedom. As you were speaking, that’s how I feel about them. Going back in time, I certainly did not have that relationship with systems. I didn’t see them as being that critical or that important. I remember we started going through this process of documenting and building up our systems. We’re continually doing it and we’ll always do because there are always ways to improve them and build new systems.
It allows you as an entrepreneurial consultant to have a lot more freedom and to start to realize your potential more. You can figure out how to improve things. Right off the bat, you’re going to be able to see a difference there and a benefit, but also you feel a lot more confident in going out and bringing people in to help you in areas that now are probably not getting the attention that they deserve.
If you don’t have those, it’s going to be hard to train people. I remember having this conversation with Sam where when you have a system and you have a team member documenting and updating their SLPs, the system that they are using and working on in their role. If for whatever reason that person doesn’t work out and they’re gone, something happens, they choose to leave or you choose to ask them to leave, you still have an asset that they’ve been developing in your business.
It becomes a lot easier to bring in a new person and have that person up to speed and replacing that previous person or bringing on a new person. Maybe you moved that initial person up higher in the organization. The whole idea is you have a lot more freedom and control because that system is a real asset for the business.
One of the great, easy ways to get this started for someone to build their own asset that you’re talking about is what we talked about. You start off recording yourself doing all of these tasks. You get some form of administrative assistant once you’ve got a collection of these videos. Their first task is to go through these videos, identify the key steps and start to pull out the bullet points and the system to marry along with these videos.
That’s a great way to start developing it because it trains this new team member on what needs to be done. They’re now deeply understanding the process because they’re developing the system. Shortly after them documenting it, “Do you think you could do this particular task?” If they say yes, fantastic. If they say no, “What else do we need to have in here so that you could feel confident that you could do that?”
You start to chisel away these administrative tasks. It’s a great first place to start for the solopreneur or solo consultant. Even if you’re a bigger firm that hasn’t yet got the systems, you might identify someone in the team who you identify as your systems champion, has a soft spot for systems and processes. You empower them. You get them a copy of SYSTEMology. You say, “Read the book, follow the process. We want to do it inside our business. We want you to be our systems champion and create space for it.”
That’s the biggest issue where most businesses don’t get around to because it’s no one’s responsibility. They don’t create the time or the space. For that reason, you end up being very person-dependent. A big part of what we’re trying to do here is to move away from this key person dependency, whether it’s the business owner or anyone for that matter.
I want to shift the conversation now to your business and the business model that you’ve chosen. It’s not unique in the sense that other people are using these kinds of models, but it’s not the typical classic approach that most consultants would go to. The reason that I’m saying this is you could have taken the knowledge and expertise that you have around systems because you’ve developed systems as part of your previous SEO consulting business. You could have gone off and become a consultant yourself and worked with different organizations to help them to develop systems. Instead, where you are now is you you’ve built a software platform that allows people to document and house all their systems in one place called systemHUB.
What you’ve also done is you’ve intentionally gone out and said, “I’m not going to be the guy doing the systems consulting.” You’ve gone and certified or brought on or built up these SYSTEMologists. I want to know more about the model, but I believe they pay to learn this SYSTEMology approach and strategy. They go off and now they go and work with organizations to help those different organizations in many different industries build systems. Walk us through why did you decide to go with this business model as opposed to you being a system consultant and going into companies and organizations yourself?
This business was the first business that I ever created. It’s my dream, vision, purpose, mission right upfront. The digital agency, I didn’t do it. The video business, rock and roll clothing, music store, stock market, education business, none of those businesses, I ever had anything in my mind other than I want to make the most amount of cash that I can. That’s how I got started. I jumped from one to the next.
SYSTEMology was the side business while I was doing the digital agency. I had a bit of a soft spot for systems and processes because I saw what it did for me. I went to a Michael Gerber event, The Dreaming Room. I came across the idea that my dream is to free all business owners worldwide from the day-to-day operations of running their business. It’s a bit of a mouthful. I don’t know how many people I’ve inspired but it inspired me.
I thought, “This is something that I can get behind.” We started to build up SYSTEMology and I did run the consultancy business myself. I was delivering done-for-you and one-on-one. I will help you systemize and identify your most critical systems. I will do all the documentation and all of that sort of thing. We realized there was more demand than I could ever meet. There’s probably more demand than any of us or all of the consultants in the world combined could make.
Business owners need this type of help. As part of that dream, I thought, “It needs to extend beyond me.” My whole idea was to capture what is the system for systemizing a business. A lot of process improvement methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma are all about improving a process. That pre-assumes you’ve got a process to improve. SYSTEMology is very different. We want to identify what you’re doing, capture that and bottle that.
I found it freeing to know that as a consultant. When I started doing it, I didn’t need to be thinking about how do I improve their business. It was an easy work for me to do. I thought, “I’m capturing what they’re doing, their best practice.” I started to specialize in a particular vertical. I knew about the digital agency. I worked with a lot of digital agencies in that space.Look for recurring tasks and create a system for them. Remember the 80/20 rule. Find the 20% of the system that deliver 80% of the result. Click To Tweet
I said, “I can bottle this.” We wrote the book. The book came out and had some great success. It was a big springboard for me. We got a flood of these new inquiries again for done-for-you services. I had someone in my world who saw the SYSTEMology book. He happened to go through Profit First Professionals, had come across Value Builder, which is a John Warrillow thing, had come across Donald Miller and his certification.
He said, “This here is solving a problem very uniquely. This would be a perfect addition for consultants as a value-added service or a way that they can zig when the other consultants are zagging. Let’s package this up.” He brought in a few people that he knew were already in the space and understood how this model worked. We started to piece something together where we thought, “How do we certify people? How do we license this content? How do we make the job of the consultant easier?”
My whole thought was, “Where do consultants get stuck?” A lot of them struggled to get leads in business and stand out from the crowd. A lot of them struggle to deliver on a promise to solve a particular problem that a business owner hasn’t been able to solve. I thought all about these problems that I knew the consultant had and then we tried to build the certification to solve that problem in a package.
Was there any mental barrier or roadblock for you? Was there anything that you dealt with that was tough? You’re going from, “I’m doing this done for you services. I’m going to organizations to help them build out these systems,” to all of a sudden, “I’m going to pull back from doing that and start to put the spotlight more on other people or SYSTEMologists that are going to be the way that I get this message out into the world. Was there any resistance from a mental perspective initially that you had to that?
At the time, I had 1 or 2 people who were guiding me through this who had very clear visions of what the consulting certification would look like. They guided me through it. I remember a meeting to hop on a systemHUB trial on our software to walk people through the platform. I was jumping on those calls. The team member, I’m thinking about it, “You got to stop hopping on these calls. It’s taking up half of your week by doing these calls. You’re trying to pick up pennies when $100 are sitting over here by shifting where your focus is.”
Fortunately, I had some good guidance that way as to, “This is the bigger opportunity here.” It spreads your message much further. If my goal is to free all business owners worldwide from the day-to-day operations, we need messengers. Me doing one-on-ones on Zoom isn’t going to cut it. I have to empower these other consultants to do it. The biggest challenge I had though is once we got started, I’m very particular with the way things have been delivered and designed.
Consultants come in with their own ideas. I’ve needed to get comfortable with the idea that I’m delivering an 80% solution. They customize the final 20% to make it theirs, to go after their vertical, to integrate it with their business. There will be tweaks and changes and things like that. I need to help support them to get the biggest result. I need to showcase and shine the light on the SYSTEMologists. They are now the star of the show, not me. That’s the only way for us to spread the message far and wide. There are a few challenges as we’ve grown.
What have you learned about the business model itself? Walk us through what are some of the best practices? If somebody was thinking, “I may be working in the manufacturing sector,” or “I’m in food and beverage,” or “I’m in pharmaceutical. I think I could also teach other people to leverage my intellectual property, build something or do some licensing.” What are some of the best practices when it comes to the business model and the structure that you would say, “Maybe I thought of doing it this way, but that was wrong,” or “I did this and it didn’t work out,” or “This is the way it should be done.” Any lessons there?
There are probably two perspectives. In one perspective, you’ve shone a huge light on this. When you came to present to our SYSTEMologists, you’ve shone a light on this idea of picking your niche and going after that. As a SYSTEMologist, you identify that vertical. You capture best practices and develop your way of doing things.
When you start working with clients, you’re selling them 100% solution but you’ve already developed 80% of the way there. You only have to do 20% of the work to deliver them a 100% solution. They’re paying you for a 100% solution, but you’re only having to do the 20%. From a SYSTEMologist’s perspective, going after those niches is very smarter. We also had another person come in and speak to the group, Andrew Griffiths. He wrote this book, Someone Has To Be The Most Expensive, Why Not Make It You?
I realized we’ve removed the pricing for our consultants now on our website. We were anchoring a certain price, but we’ve already had SYSTEMologists 3X what our recommended retail price was for done-for-you services. They went after a vertical, felt confident in their own skills and ability, understood the client and the problem that I was solely solving for them. It was still a huge win for the client and they significantly charge more. There are some things with regards to the SYSTEMologists, but I wasn’t sure if you were asking the question about the business model.
You have your intellectual property around SYSTEMology and that process. If somebody wants to think about replicating something similar in a different industry, how are you doing that? Do the SYSTEMologists pay you to go through a period of training, pay an annual fee or percentage of what they make? Walk us through some of those fundamentals.
There are a few things there. One is there’s a core training they go through, which is three months where we work as a small group to make sure that they understand the material. They have to then deliver two case studies to make sure that they get certified and work with clients. We’ll review their work. Beyond that, there’s an annual fee that they pay effectively to license the material. We also teach them a few things to support them, help them scale, and grow their business.
One thing we’ve done is we’ve developed a group program that they can deliver. We deliver the content through our portal. They show up and do the live facilitation for the calls. That’s a great win because it helps them scale their business because then they could be working with twenty businesses at one point in time. We handle a lot of the backend delivery and it keeps us closely working together. It becomes a real big win-win. That has been big for us.
The other one was an idea that Michael Gerber dropped in my lap. He’s written all of these vertical books. This is something that I’m working on at the moment. We’ve identified a particular vertical and we’re thinking of doing SYSTEMology for that vertical. We’re going to do that quite a lot where we identify who is the expert that we partner with. That becomes a big opportunity. This is more about a business model thing that I’m talking about with you.
If you were to be licensing material, first is working with consultants who want to take the material and work with it as a consultant. The next level up after that would be to work with a vertical expert. We’ve even discussed considering selling the master rights for a particular region to certify SYSTEMologists if we found the right partner. That would be a huge opportunity.
If you think about that, there are almost three different sizes of deals that I’m talking about but first, we’ll start off working with SYSTEMologists. We need to prove that that model works. We can train them. They can get a great result. They get a huge return on their investment. We bottled that and then we keep going for the bigger deals. That’s where we’re headed.
One concern some people might have around this model is how do you protect your intellectual property? How do you ensure that what you’ve worked so hard to develop is not taken into the marketplace and used in a way that doesn’t align with the reputation and respect that you would want to have? Any lessons around that or any suggestions?
A lot of it has to do with putting your stake in the ground. It has to do with trademarks. We’ve registered SYSTEMologists and SYSTEMology in different countries and regions. The Madrid Project is how we ended up doing a lot of that trademarking. There are a few tools that are very uniquely SYSTEMology like the Critical Client Flow that we talked about. If you’re going to develop a model like this, you have to get 1 or 2 things that are very uniquely different. You need to lock those pieces down. If it feels like everything else, then someone can take the piece that they like and go set up their version. You’re teaching and training up your competitor. You want to be particular with your partners and how you police that.SYSTEMology identifies what you're doing, capture that, and bottle that. Click To Tweet
The last thing I’ll mention on that is we’ve got Google Alerts and things set up to identify when infringements on the trademark happen. We’ve been quite proactive. We’ve had about three instances I can think of now where we’ve had to take the next steps to get material and content taken down, which is a pain. I don’t want it to be in that space but it is the reality. When you start licensing out your material, you’ve got to make sure it’s used correctly.
Three very questions before we wrap up, David. Number one, what is one habit that you’ve cultivated over the years that you feel has been impactful on the success that you’ve had? If you were to pass that down to a loved one, somebody that you care about, what would you say is that one habit that you’ve cultivated that you think could benefit somebody by embracing it?
Getting the habit of recording everything. Every Zoom meeting that you’re having and every interaction. Wherever you can and it’s not too weird, have it recorded. One, it’s the basis of forming any system and having training someone come behind you. Two, from an authority positioning point of view, if you’re speaking on stage or you’re presenting to a certain group, you can never go back in time to capture that stuff. You might as well capture it now because you don’t know when it’s being used. I’ve got so many little clips of whether it’s me talking on TEDx or me on the TV, the news, or working with Michael Gerber. I’ve got behind-the-scenes videos of me sitting down in these private masterminds. I record everything. You never know when or how that might be useful. You can’t go back to get it.
Number two, what is the best book you’ve read, fiction or nonfiction?
I keep on rereading Traction by Gino Wickman. I love that framework.
Finally, where should people go to learn more about you and your book?
They can head over to SYSTEMology.com. All the links are in there or head over to Amazon or Audible, search SYSTEMology. There’s an audiobook of SYSTEMology there. That’s a great place to start or on Amazon as well.
David, thanks so much for coming on.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having us, Michael.