Running a business by myself while also juggling a full-time career and all of the other normal, day-to-day responsibilities would be impossible if I didn't have well-defined business systems to rely on. Sure, there are times when the pressure of a looming deadline leads to brilliant work but I’d rather not have the stress.
My boyfriend is not a planner – he believes that it takes away from the spontaneity of life. But I would argue that having systems in place to deal with the not-always-so-fun sides of running a business actually creates more time to do what you love and to actually live. I love that even with all I have going on, I still mostly make time to grab a drink with friends, try new recipes every Friday night, take my pup to the dog park at 8’oclock every night and take most of Sunday off to relax before a new week.
These things are very possible even with a 60+ hour work week between the business and my job and it's only when I start to slip on these systems that my personal life begin to slip as I frantically run around trying to catch up with everything.
What kind of tasks should be systemized?
One of the best ways to get organized when you’re trying to run a business on a “time” budget is to create workflows for your most common tasks. There are so many things that you have to do when you’re running a business that it can often feel like there isn’t any time to get them all done – especially when you’re doing it all yourself. Most of the tasks can be packaged together so that they get done in the most efficient and organized way possible.
Some of the areas where workflow can help:
- Client work (Essential for maintaining a high and consistent level of customer service!)
- Marketing & Communications
- Business Operations
- Website Maintenance
- Weekly schedule
One example is the client processes. If you have one type of service for clients, what are the stages that each client typically goes through? Having these mapped out and templates for emails and forms pre-drafted can save you hours upon hours each week.
How to systemize client processes
What are the common tasks that you do for most clients that you work with? These are the perfect tasks to systemize because having them ready to go will save you hours of replicating the same work for different clients. Map out the experience of your customers. An additional benefit to doing this is that it will create a consistent level of quality that you then become associated with.
- A client sends you a message for more information.
- You answer question and schedule a consultation
- You have consultation appointment
- They decide to book a service or package with you
- You send them the initial start up emails, contract and accept payment
- First phase of project
- Second phase of project
- Final Review
- End of work and delivery to client
- Follow up process
For each of these stages, there are plenty of materials that you can have pre-done so you can just update and send. Below is a mini workbook to help you map out these processes and come up with a list of materials that you can pre-create them.
Another great tip is to create a sheet where you can look at all of your clients at once and see what stage of the process they are at. There are a ton of these workflow sheets and whiteboards that are designed for photography business on Etsy and Pinterest. I’ve created a worksheet that’s more general for service-based businesses. You’ll find it in the download below.
Looky, Looky – A handy worksheet on this very topic!
Download the mini workbook here to map your own client workflow system