You wear a lot of hats in your business and executing the ongoing tasks of your business is most likely not your favorite. Organizing and documenting your business is an important part of freeing up your time to focus on clients. The more processes you put in place the less time you will spend on tasks and the fewer decisions you will need to make.
Why should you establish processes?
Processes reduce the number of decisions you need to make. The fewer decisions you need to make the more space in your head to focus on clients and incoming revenue. Thru reminders, checklists, templates or personal rules processes are achievable for many business tasks, especially reoccurring ones.
Decide now, not later
Deciding upfront how you will handle certain situations in your business allows your reoccurring business tasks to fade into the background. Allowing you to focus on the higher-level decisions and needs of your business. Why waste time and brainpower trying to figure out “who to bill when” or “who you need to follow up with” when you can come up with a plan and a schedule and just repeat the process over and over? Save your brainpower for the parts of your business you enjoy the most.
Some great things to establish processes for in all businesses are new client onboarding, welcome/prospecting sequence, follow-ups, billing, marketing schedule, content creation plan, and schedule. With a bit of planning, organization and set up, processes can be established that make it so you just execute the tasks and move on to the next thing.
How to establish processes:
What area of your business stresses you out the most? This is a good place to start implementing processes. Maybe it’s your weekly billing tasks or your prospect follow up system. Implementing processes for these things will reduce your stress and will allow you to focus on your interactions with clients and prospects. Project Managers are a big help when attempting to establish processes, we have experience looking at the overall goal of the process and being able to break it down into individual steps. But you can also do it yourself by taking the time to think through what needs to happen.
Step 1: Establish the goal and parameters of the process
Once you have chosen an area of your business that you want to focus on think about the goal of this area of your business. Also, think about how frequently you need to accomplish that goal. Think about what processes make sense for this type of project.
It does not make sense to spend a ton of time, effort and cost on creating an elaborate client onboarding process or investing in an expensive CRM tool if you plan to only have a few ongoing clients. But if your business frequently gets new clients that may be a different situation altogether. So, choose process improvements to an extent appropriate for your business and adjust as your business grows.
Here are some questions that may help you get moving in the right direction of implementing processes:
Step 2: Document what it is happening now
When I set out to create or improve a process the first thing I do is sit down and create a checklist or standard operating procedure and list out EVERY SINGLE thing that is currently happening. If it is for a new project you will need to think thru things step by step based on past experiences and the goals of the project to see what needs to happen. Often attempting to document what is happening now (or what should happen) will help you see where adjustments need to be made. Once you can see where adjustments need to be made you can start looking for what needs to be adjusted so the process runs smoother and needs less attention from you.
Step 3: Determine what action to take
After figuring out what areas of a process need adjusted and improved the next step is to look for ideas of how to improve that step. Start thinking about the order things are happening in. Could steps be rearranged in some way and have a more efficient result? Many times my “ah-ha” moment comes when I realize if we did things in a slightly different order it would save on backtracking or the number of times the project needs to be touched by the same person. Just making a change like this can be a big time and money saver in a project.
Next, do some research, see if there are tools others use for similar projects that might make sense for your project as well.
- A good place to learn how others handle similar processes is to join Facebook groups of people who are in a similar business as you. Even if other’s situations or experiences are different from yours their feedback may help you figure out something that will work for you.
- You can also Google it and figure out what programs are available that may help improve your process.
- Review the programs you are already using to see if there are functionalities that you just haven’t learned about (always better to use a program you have, to reduce the programs you need to keep track of).
As you go through these steps you may even realize there are already things you can do with very little cost or time involved. Things that can make a big difference when implemented so the project process is less hands-on.
What will work for each step greatly depends on the goals and needs of the project but here are some processes that I have found to be helpful in past situations:
|Follow up emails||If the follow-up email is in response to something you sent out then you can create an automated sequence in your email management software that triggers a response automatically. – If it is an email you send repeatedly make a swipe file or canned email and make slight edits, so you aren’t having to redo the copy each time. (Many email programs, Outlook, Gmail have the ability to create templates that you can access easily.)|
|On Billing day looking through everything to see what you need to invoice and hoping you find everything.||Put all reoccurring charges on automatic Make sure you are maximizing your Accounting software capabilities. Create a card in your PM software to trigger you doing billing on a set day each week. Throughout the week as you think of billing things you need to do add them to that card so you remember to take care of them on Billing day. If there are multiple steps you need to execute each week create a Billing checklist in your PM software and check each item off as you do it.|
|Creating a new Blog Post||This is a highly repetitive task which means a great solution is a checklist and templates. Create a checklist with EVERY single task needed to be done listed, along with links to anything needed for reference. Create templates for any graphics that you will need to create (featured image, Pins, Social Media graphics)Each time you create a post, open the checklist and follow along letting it trigger you on what needs to happen next rather than you trying to remember each time.|
Step 4: Take Action
Some of the processes you want to implement for your business will be quick and easy and can be implemented right away, others may need to be implemented as time goes on or as more revenue comes in. The key is making an action plan, document the plan, review it periodically and implement the various improvements you have identified. You can easily set up a reoccurring task in most project management tools to remind you to review your plan periodically and take the steps necessary to improve it. If spending a few hours now saves you hours of work and decisions later it will be worth it.
Processes free up your mind to focus on more important things! Establishing processes depends on the needs and complexity of the project and the business, but the options are endless. Having processes in place so you no longer have to think about what to do next frees up your mind to focus on more important tasks like working with clients and increasing revenue. After all, who wants to spend more time than necessary on something, especially if it is something you don’t enjoy.
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