when you are just starting with your little biz, perhaps growing from a hobby to a biz or perhaps just starting from scratch, it is really easy to do each task from your kitchen table at it comes. whether it is calling a customer, filling an order, sending a package, writing an invoice, or updating your website… we tend to just do these tasks as we need to, and fit them into our schedules by priority.
but that’s not gonna cut it forever. trust me. one day you will forget to return a phone call or answer an email. you will get behind in updating photos or posting to your blog. you will make a mistake on an invoice or an order. it will happen (it happens to all of us) because one day you will get too busy to run your biz in that “each task as it comes” type manner.
what you need are systems. systems to deal with each and every task you do for your biz. and truthfully, it is better to come up with systems early on in your biz, but if you wait until you screw something up or get overwhelmed, that’s ok too. it is never too late to do better next time!
what systems do you need?
we all have different types of businesses, different products or services, different methods of selling and delivering our thing, different strengths and weaknesses. so only you will know what systems you need in place to easily accomplish the tasks of your biz.
start by brainstorming each of the tasks you do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. for each task you list jot down the main steps you take to accomplish it. for long term tasks (say accounting or taxes) list the things you need to do each week or month or for each order. try to list everything you do for your biz, even the smallest or most mundane.
consider the following aspects of your biz: dealing with email, calling customers, filling orders, packaging, posting, invoicing, accounting, paying bills, updating websites, writing blog posts, sending newsletters, answering questions, social media activities such as facebook & twitter posts, scheduling, product creation, and marketing tasks.
create your systems
again, this will be dependent on the type of tasks you have to do for your biz, but the idea of your system is to save you time, help you be organized and to help you do the task quickly and easily.
for instance, something as simple as having bulk packaging materials ready to go and only posting orders on a certain day, rather than rushing off to the post office each time an order trickles in can save you time, money and stress, but will also allow you to be prepared when orders are flooding in, instead of trickling!
try to think of the steps you seem to repeat constantly, the things you are scrambling to get done, the jobs that annoy you each time you have to do them, the requests you often get, the places you seem to lose time… these are all things you can turn into a system.
possible systems that you might put in place:
- creating templates for answering questions, responding to emails
- creating forms for collecting information such as customer details, order details, time sheets etc.
- grouping like tasks together so you only do them once a week or once a month
- creating an organized calendar to schedule tasks, client meetings, phone calls, reminder emails etc.
- getting supplies ready and organized to make posting, packaging, creating info packs etc simple
- setting up folders, lists, notebooks etc. (either physical or online) to collect, sort & organize information
use tools to help you create systems
i am a big fan of google apps so i will mention a few google tools that i have used to create systems:
i use gmail for email – i have about 6 email addresses that i manage in one spot using gmail, i can create labels and folders for my email so i can sort them based on content and priority, and i have a system in place to identify the email i need to go back and respond to. i have set days in which i respond to emails, rather than get off track during my day to day tasks by email.
i use google calendar for organizing and scheduling – i have colour coded catagories for all of the different things on my calendar, including my husband’s work roster, my daughter’s school and social activities, my available session times, my client and order information, writing blog posts, and my ‘task days’. at a glance i can see what i have to do each day, week & month.
i use google docs to create templates and lists i can access any time to deal with email, answer questions, share with clients, collect details, and organize all of the information i seem to access repeatedly. i like having all of this information in one easy to access spot, and now if i have to answer a question twice or do a task twice i will make a template for it.
i also use my android smart phone all of the time for work so it is important to me to have tools that i can access on my phone as easily as i can from my home computer. i am trying to get away from using a physical notebook, which never seems to be handy when i need it, while my phone is always with me.
where to find the tools that will help
last week natalie sisson from the entrepreneur’s suitcase shared with us a few tools that we could use to run our biz. she was kind enough to give me a preview copy of her ebook the ultimate toolkit for entrepreneurial success, so i had a look through it to have another think about the systems i could implement in my biz.
this ebook is chock full of recommended tools, both paid for and free, that can help anyone with their biz. there are some things in there that i don’t need for my biz, but i know that one day i might, so i can see myself using this ebook as a reference as my biz grows. there were a number of tools i had never heard of and great explanations of ones i had but had never thought to try!
what i really liked about the ebook is that it is divided into catagories such as: setting up a virtual office, creating a website, marketing/PR/design, social media, sales and customer service, productivity and time management, team collaboration, outsourcing, finances, and legal help. this way i can concentrate on systems and tools for one part of my biz and then go on to another!
what this ebook doesn’t include, that i wish it did, is a bit stating whether each tool is available as an android or iphone app for my phone. but now that i have read about a few tools that will help me i can go a check for myself, so it isn’t a big problem.
if you want to check out this ebook, natalie is offering build a little biz fans a special discount; just use the discount codebizbuilderat checkout to receive 25% off.
what is one part of your biz that you could implement a system to make life just a little easier and more organized? what systems have you put in place already?