Systems – Saving You Stress, Time, Energy, and Money

Mike McKay
May 17, 2024


In the high-pressure world of an emergency room, even the most skilled medical teams can overlook critical details, as noted by Atul Gawande in “The Checklist Manifesto.” In business, where decisions are made daily without the life-or-death urgency, the consequences of oversight can be just as severe. Approximately 80% of businesses don’t survive their first five years, often due to preventable mistakes and inconsistencies. This blog explores the crucial role of systems in preventing such pitfalls, drawing parallels with Gawande’s use of checklists to drastically improve safety in hospitals.

Why Systems Matter:

Your business decisions are as critical as emergency room decisions, albeit without the immediate life-or-death consequences. Just as medical professionals use checklists to ensure precision, entrepreneurs need systems to avoid pitfalls and inconsistencies that can sink a business. The key is recognizing that running a successful business requires more than personal capacity; it demands robust systems.

Learning from Aviation:

The concept of checklists isn’t exclusive to medicine; it saved Boeing Aircraft from bankruptcy in the 1930s. Major Ployer P. Hill’s crash of the Model 299 led to the development of a simple checklist, transforming the B-17 Flying Fortress into a wartime hero. Gawande applied a similar principle to surgery, significantly reducing errors. The reluctance of some doctors to use checklists underscores the resistance many entrepreneurs have toward implementing systems.

The Entrepreneurial Challenge:

Entrepreneurs often resist systems, believing they can handle everything uniquely and impart knowledge through osmosis. However, this mindset limits business growth and perpetuates reliance on the founder. The law of the lid suggests that your business can only grow as much as your personal capacity allows. Embracing systems becomes essential for scalability.

Identifying Barriers to Systems:

Examining the Identity Iceberg reveals hidden beliefs that may hinder system implementation. False truths about the toughness of business, people challenges, and the necessity of working excessive hours need reassessment. Successful companies like Microsoft and Google thrive on scalable systems, not personal effort. Shifting these ingrained beliefs is crucial for unlocking the true potential of your business.

Building Core Systems:

A systematic approach begins with identifying the six major processes: marketing, sales, order entry, fulfillment, accounting, and administration. These core systems create a framework for consistency and scalability. Each process involves a set of steps that, when documented, enhance efficiency, training, and overall business performance.

Steps to Create a System:

  1. List Big Steps: Identify major processes in your business.
  2. Choose a Focus: Select a process to start with.
  3. Document Steps: Write down the steps using a checklist or flowchart format.
  4. Review and Refine: Put it away for a few days, then review and refine.


In the business world, systems are the unsung heroes, ensuring consistency, efficiency, and scalability. By learning from the medical and aviation industries, entrepreneurs can embrace systems to navigate the complexities of business, saving stress, time, energy, and money. It’s time to shift the mindset, break free from limiting beliefs, and build a business that thrives on robust, scalable systems.

Ready to implement efficient systems to further elevate your business?

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