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How to Create Business Systems as a Creative (and Why You Should)
Business systems are essential for any solopreneur or small team leader wanting more freedom and clarity in their operations. But what are they exactly? And why should you care? Let me explain.
Imagine your business is like a machine with different parts working together to produce a desired outcome. Each element has a specific function and a way of doing it. Your business systems are the processes, tools, and technologies you use to manage everything from sales and marketing to service or product delivery to accounting and customer service.
Creating and documenting your business systems allows you to optimize your workflows, streamline your communication, and reduce operational costs. You can also ensure that everyone on your team knows what to do and how to do it. This will help you run your business more efficiently, effectively, and profitably.
Sounds good. But I know what you're thinking: creating systems sounds boring and tedious. You're a creative entrepreneur, not a robot. You thrive on big ideas, not nitty-gritty details. You love people, not processes.
I get it. I'm a creative entrepreneur too. And I used to hate systems. But then I realized how much time and energy I was wasting by doing things differently every time or by not doing them at all. I realized how much stress I was causing myself and my team by not having clear expectations and instructions. I realized how much money I was leaving on the table by not having efficient and effective ways of delivering value to my clients and customers.
So I decided to change my mindset and embrace systems. And you know what? It was one of the best decisions I ever made for my business and life.
Let me share with you a couple of case studies that demonstrate the real-world impact of business systems:
Janice used to struggle with managing her client projects efficiently. She often forgets essential details, experience delays in delivering work, and spend excessive time on administrative tasks. However, she decided to implement business systems to streamline her processes.
By creating a standardized client onboarding process, Janice could gather all necessary project information upfront, set clear expectations, and establish a smooth workflow. She made templates for project proposals, contracts, and invoices, which saved her time and ensured consistency. Additionally, Janice developed a project management system using cloud-based tools, allowing her to track progress, communicate with clients, and meet deadlines effectively.
As a result, Janice experienced significant improvements in her business. She reduced project delays, increased client satisfaction, and freed up more time for creative work. The systems she implemented also allowed her to take on more projects without sacrificing quality, ultimately leading to increased revenue and business growth.
Michael used to struggle with managing multiple marketing campaigns simultaneously. He often found it challenging to keep track of deadlines, coordinate with team members, and maintain consistency in his marketing efforts. To overcome these challenges, he implemented business systems.
Michael developed a comprehensive content creation and distribution system. He established an editorial calendar to plan and organize his content marketing efforts in advance. He created templates for social media posts, email newsletters, and blog articles, enabling him to produce high-quality content quickly. Additionally, Mark automated various marketing tasks using software tools, such as scheduling social media posts and email campaigns.
By implementing these systems, Michael saw remarkable improvements in his marketing efficiency. He consistently delivered valuable content to his audience, maintained a strong online presence, and effectively engaged with potential customers. The systems also allowed him to scale his marketing efforts and take on more clients, leading to increased revenue and a solid reputation in the industry.
These case studies illustrate how solopreneurs like Janice and Michael have benefited from implementing business systems. By streamlining their processes, they could save time, improve client satisfaction, and achieve growth in their businesses.
Now that you've seen the impact of business systems let's dive into the steps you can take to create and maintain your systems. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
1. Start with one part of your process. Pick something you do regularly in your business, such as fulfilling a new customer order. Write down the steps you currently take without worrying about variations or exceptions. Just focus on the main steps that apply to most cases.
2. Break it down further into specific instructions or a video training showing each step. This is your SOP (standard operating procedure). Save it in a folder in Google Drive or another cloud-based file storage application so that you can easily access and share it with your team.
3. Repeat this process for every part of your business that you want to systematize: invoicing, closing out a project, sending a birthday email or card, reminding them to book their next call, etc. Try to complete one SOP per week until you have them all.
4. Create processes for how to spend your time as well. What are the first few things you do daily when working on your business? What tasks must you do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly? Write them down and follow them consistently.
That's it! You've just created your business systems!
But wait, there's more. Creating systems is only half the battle. The other half is maintaining them. And this is where many creative entrepreneurs struggle. Because let's face it: life happens. Sometimes we get busy, distracted, overwhelmed, bored, sick, tired, lazy, or whatever. And we fall off track. We skip a step, miss a deadline, forget to follow up, lose an email, make a mistake, or drop the ball. It happens to all of us. We're human, not perfect.
But here's the thing: we don't have to let these setbacks derail us completely. We can bounce back quickly and easily if we have a backup plan. A backup plan is a way of designing your systems with failure in mind. It's a way of anticipating the problems that might arise and preparing for them in advance. It's a way of ensuring your systems are resilient and adaptable.
Here are some examples of backup plans:
Having backup plans will help you avoid stress and frustration when things go wrong. It will also help you maintain trust and credibility with your clients and customers.
But more than backup plans is needed. You also need two more things: accountability and grace.
Accountability is having someone who can support, motivate, remind, guide, or challenge you as you create and maintain your systems. It could be a coach, a mentor, a mastermind group, a peer group, a friend, a family member, or anyone with your best interest. Accountability will help you stay focused, committed, and consistent with your systems. It will also help you learn from others who have been successful before you or are facing similar challenges.
Grace is permitting yourself to be imperfect. It's acknowledging that you will make mistakes, and that's okay. It's forgiving yourself when you fall short and celebrating yourself when you succeed. It's accepting that you can't do everything at once or all the time. It's allowing yourself to slack off now and then and plan for it ahead of time when you can. Having grace will help you avoid burnout and resentment of your systems. It will also help you enjoy the journey and appreciate the results.
Remember: systems are not dull or tedious.
Don't wait any longer. Start creating your systems today!
And if you need help with this process, don't hesitate to contact me!
I'm here for you!
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