If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner in the early stages of getting your biz baby off the ground and out into the world, you’ll know this to be oh-so-true.
Often, you are too busy working in your business, to work on it.
In other words, you get so bogged down in having to accomplish the more mundane but crucial tasks — such as sending quotes and invoices, answering emails, packing orders and connecting with your social media following — that you have barely any time or energy to dedicate to serving your tribe, growing your biz and doing what you do best: creating and delivering your products or offerings.
You know, the stuff that really lights you up and fuels the purpose behind your work.
Indeed, if you’re flying solo in your biz or in the early stages of a start up, you’re usually forced to do just about everything yourself — particularly if you’re bootstrapping — and so it seems impossible to take your biz up a notch when you’re wearing what seems like hundreds of hats and juggling a bazillion tasks.
It all falls on you.
You feel like you’ll never be free.
But want to know something? Freedom loves systems.
And by systems, we don’t necessarily mean computer systems and software programs. We’re talking about identifying and performing your business tasks in a documented, organised, planned and consistent manner.
As your new biz begins to gain traction and starts to grow, it’s absolutely crucial to systematise, automate and streamline as many tasks and to-dos as possible, so that everything is running like a well-oiled machine from early on and you’re maximising your potential to grow and succeed in the future.
Last week, in the first article in this two-part series, we shared with you the ins and outs on why and what you should systematise when it comes to your new biz. If you missed it, you can catch up here.
Next up, we’re sharing some step-by-step guidance on how you can do it!
Analyse your to-do list
Explore all the various activities that keep your business engine running and identify the tasks that have become routine and increasingly common in your workflow.
Who does what, and when?
Record the frequency of any recurring events and tasks that occur within your business cycle. Consider all the admin, sales, marketing, financial or operational functions, from end-of-month reporting, to website and social media analytics and client scheduling. If you have a team, make a note of who is responsible for each item.
Just get it all down, on paper (or a spreadsheet — whatever works for you)
Consider the ‘how’
This is the more detailed, onerous stage of the process — but totally worth it in the long run.
Once you have identified all the routine elements of your business function, it’s time to really flesh things out and document the steps it takes to complete the task successfully.
How does this particular job get done?
Try using a flow-chart, to help you (and your team) better-visualise the process and understand how everything fits together.
Identify each significant step in the process and jot them down in the order they occur. Be sure to test the instructions to ensure you haven’t left out any crucial details!
Take a step back and consider all the business activities you’ve documented.
What can be streamlined?
What can be automated or templated?
How can you improve each step-by-step process?
Prioritise the processes you’d like to systematise first. It’s a big job and you won’t be able to do it all at once, so review the tasks at hand and make a decision about what you need to focus on first.
Which of your processes can be assigned to a more automated software program or app?
- If you don’t use one already, do some research on cloud-based accounting and book keeping programs to help bring more ease into your budget and finance management.
- Look at the social media scheduling tools on the market.
- Is it worth using an email marketing program to better-distribute your newsletters, and organise your email list?
- Can you direct your customers to a FAQ page on your website, instead of responding to the same customer service enquiries over and over, via email?
- If you rely on appointments and other bookings, can you implement a scheduling program so your clients can add themselves to your calendar?
What can often be such a small, upfront or monthly investment can bring you a great return – on time, money and effort.
For the activities that require more people power, decide how this workload can be better distributed across your team. Be clear on who is responsible for what, and when.
What are you doing on a regular basis that another team member could be doing instead?
Is there anything you don’t enjoy doing, or takes up an unnecessary amount of your time or energy that you can hand over to someone else?
If you’re a solopreneur or lone wolf, of course you won’t have this luxury, however it’s still worth looking at how you better-schedule these tasks into your day, week or month.
Perhaps you have some budget to delegate a few tasks to a Virtual Assistant or other freelancer or specialist from time to time, in order to free you up to focus on what you do best?
Review your collection of ongoing communications collateral, such as email replies to client welcome packs, service overviews, quotes, handouts and telephone scripts. Can you create a template that can be used over and over again to save you starting from scratch?
A place for everything, everything in its place.
Set up a good filing and document management system. Create a calendar and use it!
Create an operations manual
You see, just like new cars are sold with a users manual, which instructs the owner on how to perform key maintenance tasks, your business needs the same.
Don’t be intimated — this doesn’t mean you have to sit down and write a thousand page handbook and have it printed and bound.
A simple file on your computer where you can collate all of the above workflows is fine — whatever it takes to have a detailed record of exactly how your business should be operated. Simply bring all of the information you’ve gathered from the previous five steps, into one organised location that is readily accessible to you and your team.
As your business and team expands, this bible will also make it easy for newcomers to get on board and get to work, straight away.
Leave room to evolve
You’ve created a system, but remember it’s never locked in stone. Your processes and procedures will change and grow as your business expands and evolves.
Essentially, your operations manual will be a ‘living’ document.
Just be sure to keep your systems up to date and relevant to your business and upgrade when necessary.
What did you think of our two-part series on systematise your new biz? Are there areas of your work you need to systematise, automate or streamline? Share with us in the comments below!
Rebecca is the Founder & CEO of The Daily Guru. She sees Growth & Development as a vital part of anyone’s health & happiness, as well as being one of the most rewarding experiences we can all embrace.