recent posts while away on holiday or business, I hinted at having a business that worked for me while I’m not there.

To do this, you need systems in place.

At a recent school owners’ conference here in Japan, a small, self-employed, teacher-owner-operator recently said to me: “I hear you like systems.”

Everybody likes systems.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is make a cup of coffee. I have a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. I take it apart, wash it, fill it with water and coffee, screw it back together, put it on the gas until it hisses, and my coffee is ready.

Bialetti espresso makers have been around since 1933 and have been re-engineered and re-designed many times.

I buy coffee from the Internet. It’s been grown in Brazil and elsewhere, picked, sorted, roasted, imported, stored, sold and shipped to my door.

I live off the main gas grid, and we use butane gas. The gas is supplied by the local supplier, who checks our meters and, without contacting us and usually without us knowing, replaces our empty butane tanks.

The water is pumped up from a nearby river, cleaned and supplied by pipes to our house.

It may seem a very simple act to make a cup of coffee to start my day, but it is the result of millions of hours of work and the refinement of complicated systems over many centuries to bring something very simple to me.

Everybody loves systems.

The trick is to be able to think of your business as a machine, and how it fits into much larger systems.

To do this, you need to be able to step outside of your business. This is very difficult to do while still doing every single job in the business.

This is the old cliché about spending time working on the business, rather than in it.

We’ll be looking at how school owners can do this in the coming weeks.



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