As a Director of Operations, I work with CEOs who want to grow and scale their small businesses. Whenever I take on a new client, we spend a lot of time reviewing their current systems. Some entrepreneurs run a very efficient and organized enterprise, but a surprising number lack the coordinated framework needed to grow. I’ve been fortunate to witness the positive results that clients experience when they implement the simple systems I’m going to share with you.
But before we dive in, let’s take a moment and define business systems. Essentially, they are automated processes that address specific issues within your business. Systems should improve productivity, ultimately saving you time and money by automating the repeated processes in your business in a strategic and effortless way. Examples of repeated processes are email marketing, social media posting, and invoicing. Depending upon your business, the list could be quite lengthy. So if you have a solid system in place, these small and time-consuming tasks will no longer be an issue for you. Therefore, giving you the necessary time needed to focus on the tasks that are critical to adding value to your business.
And I hear you, many people struggle to identify the systems they really need and it can be an overwhelming process in itself. I see a lot of entrepreneurs who are unsure how to begin building out systems and how to optimize them, to save time, money, and energy. So I want to share with you the 3 most important systems to focus on when you are just starting out.
The first system is onboarding, this sets the tone for how your clients view you and your services. You can automate your client onboarding process with things like email templates and online call scheduling. Once in place, these can be used to set clear procedures with clients.
Automation enables potential clients to receive a welcome email with a link to fill out your welcome survey. Then after the survey is complete, they can get an email response with your calendar inside to book a discovery call. All of this will be handled while you focus on other aspects of your business.
The steps and processes involved can be edited and refined further down the line as your business grows. You may come up with new ideas to make the onboarding process unique to your business or your needs might change.
I am a big fan of CRMs for this. I use Dubsado and love it. But, when you are just starting out and money is tight you will want to focus on free and low-cost solutions, like the free versions of Zapier, Automate, and Microsoft Flow.
#2 Client Management
Second, are the client management systems. These are key to ensuring that your business is running smoothly and efficiently. Putting this system in place will not only improve the service you provide to your clients but will also keep you more organized. Creating a master client brief to keep track of all your new and existing clients will help you easily stay on top of your client’s important information. Ultimately saving you time, improving your efficiency, and ensuring you can quickly access client information as needed. It will also provide greater long-term efficiency as your business grows and you continue to onboard team members. CRMs work great for this but there are other free alternatives like Google Sheets and Airtable.
#3 Project Management
I’ve saved the most valuable system for last, project management. It will ensure that you and your team stay organized on all current tasks, and have previous tasks documented for reference. It also provides a birdseye view of your business’s operations so that you are able to work with realistic timeframes and view the progression of projects. Project management tools are very intuitive and come with many integrations making them user-friendly. Most include things like time tracking, real-time chat, and the ability to set recurring tasks. Having all of these things in one place will make life much easier! Popular options include Asana, Trello, and Clickup.
If you begin to implement systems early on in your business, you’ll be creating the foundations that will ultimately help your business grow. You will save yourself time by not repeating the same tasks over and over again. You will also save money by having everything automated so that you will be able to focus on those tasks that can bring value and revenue to your business. And most importantly your clients/customers will feel happy and taken care of because you’re providing a consistent service.
Set aside sometime this week to begin to work on these 3 systems. The once time-consuming parts of your business will be automated and your processes will run like clockwork. This will help you to think about other areas of your business that might benefit from a systemized approach. In a few month’s time, you will wonder how you ever lived without those systems in place!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pauline Malubay is a digital business strategist, coach, and podcaster. Her whole career has been about helping women get OWNERSHIP of their business – and life in general. Before college, Pauline volunteered in Zimbabwe where she witnessed how a chance to build a business empowers women, and this insight stuck with her.
Today she’s the CEO and founder of PMC, a digital agency that supports female entrepreneurs in building and scaling their operations and revenue streams, giving them the space to own their CEO role. Pauline also hosts the “How She Owns It” podcast bringing business wisdom, women to women.