There are 10 core business systems that, when fully optimized, help queer-owned businesses achieve long-term, sustainable growth. They are Product, Customer Service, Operations, Team Management, Time Management, Marketing, Finance, Leadership, Trends, and Strategic Vision. This post will define each and provide insights and strategies for developing a thriving enterprise.
In this post, you’ll:
- Learn about the 10 Core Business Systems and how they drive growth.
- Discover effective strategies for building a successful and profitable business.
- Understand how each of the 10 Core Business Systems supports one another to grow LGBTQ+-owned businesses.
What is business process optimization?
Your queer-owned business has lots of moving parts – and all those systems need to work in tandem for your business to grow sustainably. Business process optimization means defining every facet of your business and making sure it’s working continuously forward and for you.
Businesses owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community fail at much higher rates than others, so you should take the time to define and optimize your processes once you’ve created a great business plan.
If you’re sitting at home thinking “Now, there’s not that many – I mean, I’ve got my customers, my team, and my product,” you might be forgetting some of the supporting systems holding up the more obvious ones.
There are 10 business systems at the core of nearly every business. (Yes, really – that many!) Keep reading to learn more about each, maybe for the first time. While you’re reading, think about your own business – do you recognize these systems in your own LGBTIQ+-owned business? Is each one optimized to support scalable growth?
No business exists without a product to sell, so this one’s low-hanging fruit. But how do you optimize a product? It’s… a product. Well – by productizing whatever it is you’re selling; you create a more effortless customer experience.
Productization is key to scaling your business if you’re selling a service. Rather than wasting non-billable hours on discovery calls and building custom packages for each new lead (and still hoping they say “yes” when they hear the price… productization allows leads to self-qualify and make decisions without your help!
2. Customer ServiceA customer service system operating at a high level will allow you and your team to create amazing experiences that keep your customers coming back AND sending all their pals your way!
Everything from the community you create on social media, to user experience on your website, plays a big part in what your ideal customers perceive as customer service, and their experiences can make or break your business. Ensuring that everything they see is top-notch also builds trust – and nobody buys from people (or brands) they don’t know, like, and trust.
Ah, yes, the system of systems. How does your business work? Who reports to whom, what projects are owned by what teams, and how do you deliver your products or services to your customers? These are the operations of your business.
Having clearly defined responsibilities empowers your team to keep working towards the common goal or mission. This may seem like small potatoes at first – but think of how you envision your business to continue to grow over the years. Your operations need to be able to scale as you grow. Having great operational systems will hamper the growing pains experienced by companies that weren’t forward-thinking in their approach.
4. Team Management
Together with operations is how you manage your team. Selecting great talent, onboarding them, ingratiating them to the culture and mission, and how positioning them to grow in their roles, need to come together in order for them to be successful.
To lead your growing team to success, lean into the principles of servant leadership. I’ve been of the mind for a long time that as queer entrepreneurs, servant leadership should come naturally. Often, lgbt+-owned businesses are founded after lifetimes of working with and for people who don’t always value our unique experiences. Thus, leading with empathy, displaying humility, and encouraging curiosity amongst your team members feels like… the only way that makes sense.
5. Time Management
Time Management. I hope you’ve gotten past the bit of business ownership where you’re working round the clock and burning out. I think it happens to all of us, to some degree. (If not, I can help). Your team needs an efficient way to manage their time and projects, so you can step away and do more of what you want to do. Find more customers. Develop new products. Take a 4-week vacation!
There are many time management systems – do your research! Find one that works with your mission, with your leadership philosophy (more on that later), and that your team can get behind. I and the Titanology team use growth sprints. This is a framework that allows us to work independently from anywhere, and constantly move the needle. We meet a few times a month to discuss what we’ve accomplished and what’s working/ not working, and to plan the coming weeks. Being an international team, it’s probably the only one that would allow us to make continuous progress with very little friction.
6. MarketingIf you don’t market these great products you and your team have been working so hard on – there’ll be no one to buy them! Spend time in the beginning getting to know your customers, and you’ll have the makings of a marketing strategy that will no doubt be successful.
You want to know everything! How old are they? What do they value? How do they want to be communicated with? You can’t make a TikTok account and call it a day. Hell, almost a third of millennials aren’t even on social media. Getting to know where your customers are, the language they use, and how to build their trust should be top of mind before you throw your money at a social media manager and think “My work here is done.”
7. FinanceHaving great financial systems in place is so important that I shouldn’t even need to say it. But I am! Knowing where the money is coming from and where it’s going is going to make a huge impact on your ability to scale as quickly as possible.
I’m a big believer in the principles of agile management. Keeping your business lean and clean is great for both operational growth and your finances. Part of the agile framework is outsourcing as much as you can. I’m not a financial expert, I’m a gay business coach. I hired a financial expert to ensure my company’s money was in safe hands. And so should you, as soon as you can afford it.
8. LeadershipThis one’s all about you babe. As the head of the organization, you really are the end all be all, of your company’s culture. If you haven’t led a team before, you should define your leadership philosophy. When determining the principles that will guide you in leading your team, think about the following:
- What commitments do I make to my team?
- What commitments do I expect of them?
- What traits do I want to exemplify as a leader?
- What happens when my team or I don’t meet expectations?
9. TrendsThey’re always changing. (And as all our parents say – they always come back around. That’s another topic, but don’t you wish they’d kept some of their shit!?) One thing you must create a system for as an LGBTQ+ owner is how to forecast them.
Forecasting is an entire industry. As an example, women’s fashion trends have been monitored so much so that the idea of trends repeating themselves was recognized in the 1930s. So you won’t be doing this on your own. You’ll want to work with those who have their ears to the ground in your industry.
How are things changing? If Facebook is on its way out (which feels like not a surprise for me to say in this blog), then sure, make a business Facebook page – but don’t sink all your ad dollars there. Look at where your customers are flocking, and how they’re talking about brands they’re passionate about it. Even on Instagram, photos are becoming a thing of the past. Their algorithm now prefers video. Because TikTok transformed the video trend started by Musical.ly and Vine.
10. Strategic PlanningYour vision. Your mission. You started your business with a big vision. You shared it with your friends and family. With LinkedIn. With your customers. You can’t forget that!
But is your plan designed for long-term growth? Is it big enough? Your mission should be overarching enough that it’s still relevant in 5 years, in 10.
My goal – my big vision for Titanology – is to eradicate LGBTQ+ business failure. That’s massive. And that goal will be relevant no matter how much Titanology grows.
The day it’s no longer relevant is the day we shut it down because we’ve accomplished it.
And then (hopefully!) I get to retire.
Now that we’ve defined the 10 core business processes, what’s your take? Are these systems operating at full capacity in your queer-owned business? If so, congratulations! It takes some months or years to optimize their processes – if they ever do.
If you’re still scratching your head, don’t despair!
The Out & Proud Business Hub is open for LGBTQ+ business owners who’re ready to take charge of their business!
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