It's Not About What You Do, It's How You Do It.
I am big on process. That's not hard to see. Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that I have a process and system for everything. That doesn't mean I am not flexible, it simply means that I think through many scenarios to determine the most efficient, or the most likely to yield the best results. I place a great emphasis on processes and systems because it is essential for the success of any business. This is why I advocate for any new business to have a business plan, an operating agreement, and a policies and procedures handbook developed before day one of operations. Keep in mind, there are other factors involved that I believe are necessary for starting a successful business, but this article is focused on the processes and systems of a business.
When you start your business with a clear plan of action and already knowing what everyone's job roles are, or will be, you have a very clear and concise definition of what you must do. It helps to maintain focus. It also helps with the decision process by automating certain aspects of your business. This means you have less time "wasted" on things that might be eating away at your valuable time and resources. Not to mention, having this pre-determined system that dictates how you should be operating can, in fact, save your butt down the road.
Here's an example. Say you have created a widget and you are now selling said widget through an online store. You have established that you have a policy where the customer has 7 days from the day they order their product to return it and get a refund for any reason. If that customer comes back to you on day 8 and complains that you won't take the product or refund them, you can save yourself a headache (or even a lawsuit) by reminding the customer that they agreed to your terms and conditions which contain your policy on refunds.
Now with that said, it is also important to keep customers happy and provide the best possible customer service. Again, it is imperative to have a system and process developed before hand to help you establish how you handle a unhappy customer. Do you still go ahead and refund them, it's only one day late after all? Do you give them store credit instead? Do you send them a new one if their widget is broken? You should be prepared to handle the back end consequences of your front end operations.
Lastly, it's important to remember that your business plan, operating agreement, policies and procedures, terms and conditions, waivers etc are not 100% set in stone. You should be adjusting along the way to make sure that you are able to grow your business and adapt to changing business environments/markets.