Starting your own business is similar to having a child or getting married, and there are business owners who just can’t seem to let go. Wanting to free business owners around the globe from the day to day grind and still achieve success, David Jenyns, the Founder of SYSTEMology.com and systemHUB.com, developed a system to do just that. He provides clarity on the myths surrounding systemization and explains why, even though it can be uncomfortable for you, it’s usually where big opportunities present themselves. David also talks about the benefits of having your business systems in place, and the things to avoid when systemizing. Also, he goes into the details of each of the stages of systemology to give you a better understanding of how it works to your best interest.
Listen to the podcast here:
Systemology: The Science Of Extracting The Business Owner With David Jenyns
Our guest is someone who had an entrepreneurial father and was given access to Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and those brilliant people from a very early age. They created multiple businesses in different industries and had the most success with running an agency. They created systems to extract themselves from being a hands-on business owner, which has turned into a mission to help business owners to free themselves up from the day-to-day. Why read? Number one, they bust great common myths around systemizing a business. Two, the seven steps you can take to systemize successfully. Three, a model for scaling your business, which can apply well to your business which you’ll learn from what I have done. I’ve kindly given some great resources to help you at the end of the show. I have David Jenyns from SYSTEMology.
Welcome, Dave Jenyns from SYSTEMology, to the show. It’s great to have you on, Dave.
It’s a pleasure. I’ve been looking forward to this, Paul.
I’ve got a little bit of a confession to kick off the show. I think I met you in 2012 or something through Pete Williams, who I know is a great friend of yours. When I first met you, I thought, “I don’t know if systems is this guy’s thing.” Coming out of corporate, I was not being very good at not telling people. I think I even told you that, which I regret now. It seems like it’s come full circle. You can teach me a lot about systems now and I need to eat a humble pie.
I love little backstories like that. It’s funny, I always had systems in my DNA. It started off with my dad creating a system for my brother and I on how we can earn our pocket money. I remember that early programming, but then everything from franchising to developing stock market systems, like to trade the markets and then in my digital agency. Where you got to know me, Paul, was in the digital agency. Sometimes systems are hidden when you look at a business and you’re looking from the outside in. You only ever see the result of the system, which is consistency, delivering to a high standard, low errors, and a very smooth-running business.
Sometimes the clients will see that, but definitely outside looking in, you can’t see it. I approach systems differently from most because I’m not a corporate like you. I’ve not ever worked in that space. I’ve always been in small business. I think in terms of systems of real on the ground, small business, minimum viable product, where do you get started? Whereas you would have seen the more established systems. You’ve seen the way that it works at an enterprise level and growing extraordinary large businesses.
I was used to Coke, which is 152 years old, I’d run some great systems. I definitely love your way and that’s why I’m excited to have you on the show. The way that you do it, I look at it as the swan. You’re calm and you’re such a great relationship person, but there’s a whole lot of work happening in the background. That’s perfect for the people that are reading. They want that. I don’t want to be in the detail. I want that engine to do it for them. Why don’t we get into something that your family or friends would know about you that we may not?
Something that isn’t probably commonly known is that I came second in the Pan Pacifics for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. When I was in high school, I was training for a martial art called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I was incredibly passionate about it. It taught me a lot about business and putting myself in uncomfortable situations and learning to become comfortable, being consistent and persistent, to get good at something and master it. That’s something a lot of people probably don’t know.
How many years did you do it for?
I did it for five years and then I took a big break. I’ve just come back into it. I felt like that was a missing part to my life. I fell in love with it early on and lost my way with exercise and all those things, getting caught up in business. I created a little bit more space and started to listen a bit more to myself and thought I’ve got to get back into this. I loved it.
If you’re ever overseas traveling and on dusk, there’s a whole lot of people doing Brazilian martial arts that looks more like a dance. What’s that called?
That one is Capoeira. They created it as a way to disguise that they were training martial arts. They positioned it as a dance, but they were training. That’s an interesting one.
From what I know when we spoke that, you never had that corporate background. There’s no path to success that works. Tell us a little bit about how you started and what was your entrepreneurial journey? I think a lot of that was you were motivated by your dad as a business owner as you said.
I think like a lot of business owners or people that have been entrepreneurs from day dot. They’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve tried importing products overseas when I was in high school and marking them up and reselling them. I’ve owned a rock and roll clothing music store called Planet 13, which we had three retail stores. I was in an info product business where we were selling stock market education material. I owned a digital agency, which gave me great visibility into hundreds of different types of businesses. Lately, with systemHUB and SYSTEMology. It’s a lot of varied experience everything from the bricks and mortar to online. Oftentimes, I’m working with businesses at ground level, so that’s growing through that first phase of getting product to market fit, making sure that you’re getting raving clients and then helping them to move through to that scale.
Rather than avoiding awkward and uncomfortable situations, lean into it. That’s usually where the biggest opportunities happen. Click To Tweet
I do find that sometimes when people think about systems and processes, they jump to things like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. They think that’s how to run a systemized business. Sometimes that freezes someone because then they get overwhelmed with the amount of systems and processes, and the level at which they need to create to. Let’s say Coke in your example, where they got started 150 years ago their systems weren’t perfect. You build your systems like Coke was back then and get started where they were, not where they are now. A lot of people compare to where the business is now and that’s the big challenge.
A lot of varied experiences, a lot of little fun projects along the way. You mentioned our mutual friend, Pete Williams. He and I both had this fantastic idea to sell the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the MCG. That’s how I got to know him. That was a little fun idea that I followed and he happened to do the same. Initially, he was my archnemesis, but then came to be a very good friend. A lot of different things, we could probably go different rabbit holes depending on what grabs your attention.
The first thing I would love to say around those are systems are always improving it. I know even at Coke, you think the system is perfect in 150-odd years, but it was always changing, especially in the sales. In production, less so and the backend, but certainly in the frontend with sales, it was constantly iterating. Even now, there are a lot of AI options coming out and it was constantly improving. It was never perfect. I think that’s a great analogy for your business. Make it for what’s needed now, knowing that’s not going to stay forever.
As far as the MCG, I did hear you on a podcast mentioned and I thought, “I think Pete Williams did that.” Quickly take us through what you did versus what Pete did for the MCG. For anyone reading, the MCG is our icon stadium in Australia. Unfortunately, at the moment it’s very empty. With COVID, no one can use it. It’s about 120,000 capacity stadium and it’s the home of cricket, but most importantly, our Australian game called the Australian Football League, which is Aussie Rules. Tell me what you did versus Pete, and how you became friends rather than foes.
I had read a book called The One Minute Millionaire. It told a story of a gentleman called Paul Hartunian, who sold the Brooklyn Bridge. They were doing some renovations, he got his hand on a bunch of discarded wood from the Brooklyn Bridge, chopped it up into pieces, wrote a press release saying, “New Jersey man sells the Brooklyn Bridge for $20.” He then got mobbed by the media and the rest is history. I read that story and I was driving past the MCG, which happened to be doing some renovations on the Ponsford stand. I followed that rabbit hole. It was like fireworks went off in my brain and I thought, “Here is a huge opportunity,” because the MCG as Australians, we know it’s almost like a religious icon. It’s our home of sports and everybody loves it.
I went to the wrecker and got my hands on a bunch of discarded wood and carpet. They had some very iconic wooden green seating that was very well-known at the MCG, and I got my hands on that. I wrote up a press release saying that, “Melbourne man sells The MCG for $24.95,” then proceeded to chop up the wood and went down to Officeworks, which is like our OfficeMax for people over in the US. I got some certificate paper and stuck the wood on that and basically mailed it out with a photo. When I sent the press release out, I got on TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. The media picked it up and they loved it.
It just so happened that there was another gentleman, the same age as me and the media got us confused and started thinking we were one and the same because we were the same age with this brilliant idea of selling The MCG. That other person was Pete Williams, who initially was my archnemesis. Our paths kept on crossing at different events and things like that. We formed a good friendship. I had him come and do a reading at my wedding. Our wives say how similar we are. He’s a great bloke. Maybe that learning came from the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It would have been very easy to think that was an awkward and uncomfortable situation and something to be avoided, but I did quite the opposite. I leaned into it, then I realized that there was something there. That’s probably something I quite often do, rather than avoiding something, I’ll lean into it. They’re usually where the biggest opportunities happened and the best friendships come from those sorts of things.
Has either of you ever declared who was first out of the blocks?
I definitely was.
There you go, Pete. It’s public again. I know you had your dad as an example, but other supporters. I know you’re a prolific reader and you do follow a lot of people. Give us a couple of names that were instrumental in your career.
I talked about it in the SYSTEMology book. The E-Myth is a great book by a gentleman called Michael E. Gerber. He changed the face of small business systems. He is considered the godfather in that space. In bigger business, people look towards people like Deming, but Gerber focused on the small business space. I’ve had the good fortune of doing some great work with him. He wrote the foreword to the SYSTEMology book. That was a pleasure. Other people that stood out and had a big impact from a business perspective and running business was Gino Wickman and his book, Traction. That’s another excellent book. There has been a lot. That’s probably from a systems perspective, but then there’s probably all the motivational side of things as well. Part of the thing that my dad did when I was very young, he was into Amway. He signed up to tape over a month and I remember being a thirteen-year-old listening to Amway tapes and hearing Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn telling me that I could take over the world and do anything that I wanted to do. I still believe it now. I’ve got that early programming and that has definitely had a big impact.
The closest story I’ve got with Michael Gerber is that I build a lot of relationships on LinkedIn. I was building a relationship. I apologize I cannot remember his wife’s name. I’m talking away to her and she seemed like a lovely person. About six conversations in, I’ve realized it’s Michael’s wife. That was very funny. That’s when I did not do enough research on her. We’ll go to the Build section. When someone asks you, “David or Dave, what do you do?” how do you best describe that?
You know how most business owners can’t step away from their businesses for more than a day or two, without it falling in a screaming heap. What we’ve done is we’ve developed a system, a method for extracting, organizing, and optimizing best practices so that the business owner can be replaceable and their key team members can, and I can build a business that works without them.
I’m sure plenty of people reading would be nodding their head, “I am that person.” I suppose it’s easy to use that as a default position, “I’m married to my business.” What do you know about systemizing someone’s business that many miss?
Identify the 20% of the systems that are delivering the 80% of the result. Click To Tweet
There are quite a lot of myths. A lot of business owners believe out of the gate or they don’t test their assumptions. They think that you’re going to need hundreds of systems to systemize your business. They think that they’re going to have to be the ones that create the systems. They think that even if they created systems, that their team won’t follow them. They think that systems remove creativity or that you need to systemize like McDonald’s. There’s all of this baggage that business owners carry around. It’s because 9 times out of 10, they’re not systems thinkers, and that’s okay.
Business owners oftentimes are big picture thinkers. They see a problem in the world. They create a product or service to solve that problem and meet the demand of their clients. They’re hustlers. They get things up and running as quickly as possible. They do whatever they can. Oftentimes, systems and processes live in their blind spot. It never gets any real attention. To grow beyond the business owner, you need the systems and the processes, and you need to find the yin to your yang. You need to find that operations person who’s going to step in and be able to drive things for you and who is process-driven. Just because you as the business owner might not be a systems thinker, doesn’t mean that you can’t build a systems-centered business.
I think what you’ve articulated could benefit most business owners in the world. Who are you specifically helping at the moment?
It’s the business owner who’s still heavily involved in the operations, the delivery of the product or service, or maybe they’re heavily involved in the sales process, all parts of the business. The person who does the checks and the measures, and they might have team members. Usually, they’ve got teams of anywhere between 5 and 25 staffs, that’s probably the sweet spot. I find the more staff that a business owner has, the harder it becomes to change the culture and insert a systems-centered approach. It is about changing the way that you do business. It’s that sweet spot of the business owner being central. A little bit of a team. They’re not a one-man-band. They already figured out their product to market fit. They already have great clients who come back to them, so they’re now looking to scale what they’re doing. It’s almost like bottle what it is that they’re doing, canning and cloning. That’s who I can help the most.
We were talking before. Your mix of clients is roughly 50/50 Australia, the US and on similar. I think a lot of people hear our accents and think, “We’re just seeing the local market.” How have you been able to successfully tap into the US market from Down Under?
Initially, it was people coming across our work. Most of the work that we do as systemologists is done through Zoom anyway because it’s the extraction of IP and then organizing and optimizing it. It’s location-independent. One other thing that we’re heavily focusing on at the moment is building out a certification program and we’re teaching systemologists or training up systemologists in our method. We’ll then have systemologists that have areas of specialty, so there are different industries and also they’ll have different locations. That way, no matter where someone comes to us from, if they need that little bit of extra support, we’ll have someone that we can connect them with or we’ve got some online resources and more do-it-yourself or coaching-type groups.
I was talking to someone about scale, out of Verne Harnish’s book and chapter, and the way that they’ve got their coaching consulting platform. Who are you looking for? What are the traits, behaviors, values that you’re looking for your coaches?
You’ve got to genuinely want to help business owners. You have to be curious as a systemologist because you’re uncovering the crux of how a business works. You’re not really a business coach because it’s more about capturing what it is that they’re doing. You’re not looking to re-engineer. You might partner with area specialists who can help re-engineer systems and processes, but as a systemologist, you’re capturing best practice on what they do. Oftentimes, it’s accountants or bookkeepers. There are some business coaches as well who want to add that as an extra little tool inside their toolkit. We have some exit planners that are quite interested in the method as well because they grew in businesses for sale. You want to have good attention to detail, some good business experience just so you can understand and appreciate all the departments, and be passionate about systems.
I’m sure people reading are saying, “This is a great background, but I want to know more about the actual system itself. What can I do to help my business or to get in contact and work more with you, Dave?” I know you’ve got a book that’s launched, which is fantastic. Take us through your seven-step methodology with the view that people can go and do something as a result of this.
SYSTEMology is the system for systemizing a business. Stage one is the define stage. That’s all about the 80/20. You want to find the 20% of the systems that are delivering the 80% of the result, the delivery or the core product or service that you’re selling. You need to identify that first and identify about 10 to 15 systems to focus.
Does that sometimes lead to changing the product offer and reducing the amount of offerings?
Usually, I say with SYSTEMology, we’re not looking at re-engineering anything in business just yet. We first want to capture what you’re doing. To focus, you think in terms of who is your dream client, so the person who pays your advertise products and services, who comes back, who refers friends and family, and who you enjoyed working with. Think of them, then think of what would be the first best product that you would like to sell to them. That would be a great introduction to your products and services and what it is that you’re doing. What is that gateway product? Focus on that first and build all of your systems around that. I don’t typically say, “Let’s restrict what you’re doing or stop selling what you’re already selling.” The business is already functioning, we’re just systemizing the first piece.
What’s number two?
Number two is to assign. If stage one is about figuring out what those core 10 to 15 systems are, stage two is where does this knowledge reside? Whose head is already trapped inside? Maybe you’ve got a salesperson. Maybe you’ve got your admin person. Maybe you’ve got some operations people or whoever it is. Preferably, we like to get the business owner out of this as much as possible, but we identify where those systems and that knowledge exists. That’s stage number two.
Think about removing complexity, because systems and processes oftentimes can introduce complexity, and complexity adds friction. Click To Tweet
I’m sure a few people reading, like I just did, put a smile on my face, knowing that I don’t have to be the person coming up with it. What’s number three?
You’re right, it’s removing the business owner wherever we can because there they are 9 times out of 10 the biggest bottleneck. Number three is then the extract step. This is all about how do we make it easy to then get the knowledge out of the head of those knowledgeable workers? The big secret here is making it a two-person job. You’ve got the person who has the knowledge and you have a second person who is the documenter. You might record the knowledgeable person, maybe it’s a Zoom or Loom. Maybe you do it on your iPhone or a GoPro, whatever it is, record them doing the task, and then have someone else watch that video and then pull out the bullet points. That’s the extract phase.
I think that’s powerful. For the processes that we do, we do the exact same approach and then get a third party to go and implement to test it. The person that doesn’t do it every day is the person that’s implementing it. That’s a brilliant element that I think few people do when they do processes.
With that as well, the biggest thing to realize is that oftentimes, your best team members are as busy as you are. If you’re not having the time and the space to create systems and processes, they’re not going to find it either. We need to make it as easy as possible for your team members to do this.
When we ran projects at Coke, there was always this debate that someone can have a job and run a project. I’m like, “No.” A project person is a person that is the gatekeeper, but they’re not actually in the doing. Once we moved to that model, the results skyrocket. I completely agree. What’s number four?
Number four is then to organize. We want to think about removing complexity because systems and processes oftentimes can introduce complexity. Complexity adds friction, then that lowers the adoption from your team, and then they don’t start using it. We look for the simple solutions, which are thinking in terms of what are your project management platforms or platform? What are you using to store your systems and your processes? Always defaulting to as simple as possible so you have a central location for all of this knowledge that the team knows, “If I want to know how something’s done, they know where to go.” That’s what the organizing step is all about.
Number five is to integrate, which is once you’ve got this in place, what are the steps that you need to take to make sure that you get buy-in? You’re going to get some team members that are going to join with you and start early in the process through these first steps. We find that people support what it is that they help to create. Once we get up to the integrate step though, we also want to then think about, “How do we meet resistance?’ The good news is everything that’s going on in the world right now makes it the best time to systemize your business. Everybody is accepting of the change. Change is happening. If you say, “We need to look at this new systemized approach to business.” It’s the least amount of resistance I’ve ever seen in history because the staff are experiencing change at home, at work, in their community. It’s a perfect time to be building a systemized business.
We then move to step number six, which is scale. Scale is all about identifying what are the other systems that you’re going to need to scale your business? If step one, we focus on the critical client flow, which is the steps that the business goes through and that the client goes through for selling and delivering that core product to build service. In step number six, we have to expand outside of that and realize that your business has different departments and realize that as you grow, you’re going to need staff. You’re going to need a recruitment system and an onboarding system. You’re going to realize that you need some financial systems to do financial reporting or management systems. Step number six is all about then starting to think about those types of systems.
We move to the final step, which is the optimization step. I leave this to last very deliberately because most people try and optimize too early and they try and make their systems just right. They try and re-engineer things, then what that does is it stops you moving forward. It becomes a roadblock. It means that you’re creating something new. I always find that systems and processes are about capturing what’s already working and replicating what’s working. Whereas if you’re completely re-engineering something from the ground up, you don’t yet know if it is the best approach. I always say, “Let’s get base level down. Let’s find out who on your team knows how to do each of these things to the best standard. Let’s document what they’re doing. Let’s get everybody up to that standard, then we can install some metrics and dashboards and look at what’s going on in the business. We can then be much more strategic on how then we start to go to work on those systems.”
The seven steps are fantastic. To top line again, it’s Define, Assign, Extract, Organize, Integrate, Scale and Optimize. Obviously, you can get more detail as well in the book. You can find all of this at SYSTEMology.com. Before we go into the Live section, I’d like to show you how to get 3 to 5 new clients a month on LinkedIn by spending 30 minutes a day. If you don’t know where to start and have limited marketing funds, just go to BLGClick.com and watch a free pre-recorded masterclass for the sales machine. You will learn three key steps. One is The Secret Formula to 10x Your Views. Two, The 7 Killer Elements to Get 50 Likes and 20 Comments on Every Post. The third is The Scripts to Get 80% Response Rates to Your LinkedIn Messages. Go to BLGClick.com and watch my free pre-recorded masterclass. Many of the activities can be done by a virtual assistant. If you don’t have a VA and you’d like to learn about getting one, go to BuildLiveGive.com/va. The next section is the Live section, Dave. What are some of the habits that make you successful now?
The biggest one is persistence and consistency. I remember that line, “Persistence wins over resistance.” It is true that if you work on something consistently over a period of time, you will become good at it. You need to enjoy it and be hungry for it and keep learning and make sure that you’re applying the right thinking. There’s no point in just doing a bad thing over and over again. If you are consistent and persistent at something, you’ll have a breakthrough. For business, oftentimes it can take a good five years to get a business. If you’re going from just idea all the way through to launching it, ramping it up, building it, proving it and getting clients, that does take time. There are some ways that you can shortcut it, maybe by buying an existing business or something like that. From a startup point of view, it needs that consistency and persistence.
You hear that, “Ten years to be an overnight success.” I’m in my tenth year now, I can’t wait for that success to hit me. You talked about your dad, about Michael Gerber, and about other people that supported you, but Carolyn, your wife, has been there through the thick and thin of this. What would you like to say to her? She’s reading this, what would you like to say to her about the support she’s given you?
“Babe, without you, I couldn’t do what I do. You make it possible. You give me the space, you support me, highs, lows and everything in between, so thank you very much. You’re loved more than you realize.”
Those are very lovely words. I’m sure she’ll be happy with that. The next section is the Give section. What charity or a community are you passionate about and why?
Two habits that can help you be successful are persistence and consistency. Persistence wins over resistance. Click To Tweet
I love Kiva. I’m all about supporting business owners and they offer little micro-loans, particularly in emerging economies. I love anything that I can do to support small business owners. I feel they are some of the hardest working, most under-appreciated for what they actually do. They create the jobs, they support the families, they innovate, they change the world. Definitely hats off to business owners and Kiva for supporting them. These are companies where all they need is the opportunity and they can do great things. Kiva gives them that opportunity with a micro-loan.
Also, I give all my book proceeds and a portion of my revenue to a charity that I support called The Purple House. You can go to PurpleHouse.org.au to find out more. The last is a rapid response question. I’ll give you a question and you give me a rapid-fire response. The first one is, what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
Top three would be firstly, organizing whatever your 90-day rocks are and figure out those big tasks that you want to work on, and focus on getting them done every 90 days. The next one would be getting a virtual assistant and you are great at that. VAs give so much extra freedom because you get things done and you can delegate tasks to them. Lastly, I would master project management. I suppose it relates to that second one, that whole idea of delegation of work. As a business owner, you need to be delegating work to be effective.
Other than systemHUB, what’s another piece of essential technology that you use to run your business?
I love Asana. That’s our project management platform. I’m a huge lover of G Suite, all of their things like Google Sheets and Calendar and Keep. They’ve got a fantastic set of tools, very cost-effective too.
What is the best source of new ideas for you?
For me, it’s just creating space. I always find the more space that I can give my brain to think, the better ideas I seem to get and the more focus I’m able to give as well. That’s a big part of what I believed systems do. They allow that space to be created.
Living near a beautiful beach, I know you get plenty of time to walk and think at the moment, just make sure you’ve got your mask on. The last question is the big one. I always leave it to the end for that reason. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
My dream is to free all business owners worldwide from the day-to-day operations of running their business. That’s the dream that I’m working on. We’ve developed a system to do it. I want people to see that impact and recognize it, “David changed the face of small business.”
We’re aligned with the things that you said. As I said at the start, I came into a small business with a Coke mindset and quickly realized that there are some things that Coke does brilliantly that you can take. I think having systems for small growing business needs something different. You’ve absolutely nailed it. Once again, you can find out more about David at SYSTEMology.com. Also, Dave has given some new, awesome resources with his book launch. You can go to SYSTEMology.com/book. There are resources and bonuses there. Dave, it’s always a pleasure having you on. As I said at the start, I owned up that I’d misjudged the swan. It’s bringing up what you’re doing to help those small businesses around the world. It’s great having you on and great knowing what you’re contributing to the world.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me, Paul.
Thanks, Dave. Bye.
I enjoyed this show in interviewing Dave. I can say that my views around systems from many years ago have become very much more in line with Dave’s approach. I think he’s got a brilliant approach and it’s very much around the methodology, not the tool, which I also enjoy. I’d love to know what is your biggest takeaway from Dave. Please share on your socials, mentioning Dave. If you get a copy of his book at SYSTEMology.com/book, take a photo and share it. He would love that. If you believe someone you know would benefit from the show, please share. You can learn the three steps to find and convert your ideal clients on LinkedIn in a free pre-recorded masterclass. Go to BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your profit, to fund your lifestyle and stay well.
- The One Minute Millionaire
- The E-Myth
About David Jenyns
In 2016, David successfully systemized himself out of his business, one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, melbourneSEOservices.com.
Through this process, he became a systems devotee – founding systemHUB & SYSTEMology. Today, his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their business.
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