As your business grows, it will become increasingly apparent just how hard it is to be truly productive in our businesses when we have so many “little” things to do that we can’t seem to find time for the big things that really impact growth.
Well, one thing we need to get good at, the thing that will help us with real productivity is to create both systems and processes in order to not feel overwhelmed and to make sure that important things are not falling through the cracks.
We’ve all been there– great intentions and exciting ideas that never quite come together because we’re bogged down with all the other crap that needs our attention as the owners of our businesses.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We can be really productive in our businesses.
We can get all the extra stuff and annoying distractions out of our field of vision if we commit to implementing systems and processes in our businesses.
I promise it’s not as intimidating as it may sound. It’s just a little time consuming. But if you go little-by-little, you’ll get there in no time!
You don’t want to try to do everything at once, because, honestly, you’re going to make yourself crazy. So it’s important to start by identifying what areas of your business need systems and processes. It may be all areas! That’s OK. Just choose a few to start.
One way to identify where you’re lacking systems is to think about what areas of your business feel disorganized, messy, and where things aren’t getting done? Jot down a few thoughts.
First thing first, you need to understand the difference between systems and processes.
A process refers to how things get handled in the business. Things like decision making, conflict resolution, and communication style are processes.
A system is an automated approach to things in your business, making it possible for them to run without you. Things like social media posting, returned items procedure, and accounting are systems.
Let’s start with Creating Systems
Choose a Few Places to Start
The important thing to remember about creating systems is that you don’t have to do everything at once. It will take time. And once you start to grow and hire help, a virtual assistant or other expert can help you to add additional systems and processes that haven’t yet been done. The key is simply to start and then add more over time.
If you need some help identifying places to start, here is a list of areas in your business that will benefit from systems. Make note of all that you feel need your attention (could be all of them!), and then decide on three that you will start with.
- Emailing Marketing (newsletters, promos)
- Social Media Posting
- Financial Reviews
- Website Updates + Maintenance
- Photo Shoots (planning, day-of, post shoot)
- Blogging (creating, scheduling, promoting)
- Product Reviews (asking for them)
- Testimonials (asking for them, sharing them)
- Marketing (planning, implementing, testing, adjusting)
- Customer Service Questions
- Return Requests
- Tax Time Preparation
- Vacation Time
- Customer Relationship Management
- Shipping New Orders
Write Out Your Systems
Now that you know which areas you are going to start with, it’s time to write out the tasks for each system, step by step. If you don’t write it down, it’s not only less likely to happen but it’s also useless when you start to hire help because there’s nothing tangible to share with them about how things get done.
First, decide where you’re going to store your systems:
- Google Drive Folder
- Dropbox Folder
- Asana (Or other project management tool)
So even though it sounds really time consuming (because it is), it’s important. If you need to block off a few hours each week to work on your systems, then do that. Think about and write down each system to get it out of your head and onto paper. The key here is to be detailed and include each step that’s taken in order to make something happen. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust a system in the future as your business grows but this is the system you feel good about right now
Here’s an example for you…
System for: Weekly Wednesday Newsletter
- Choose email topic for the newsletter at least 7 days before send date
- Write 3 to 5 paragraphs on the topic at least 5 days before send date
- Source 2 to 4 images for newsletter
- Original images if available are most desirable
- Use stock photo sites if no original images are available (pexels.com)
- Resize images to 780 x 350
- Use “Weekly Newsletter” email template in Mailchimp
- Add content into email template
- Add product links to images
- Add link to Call to Action
- Schedule for 12 noon on the next Wednesday
This example is basic and that’s OK. It covers each step and that’s what matters. Depending on the area you’re working on, it may be more detailed, longer, shorter, list more resources, etc.
Choose Tools and Resources
Now it’s time to brainstorm what kind of resources, tools, or apps you need in order to make each system work.
Ask yourself whether or not this particular system requires a human to make it happen, and then decide who that human will be. It may just be you right now, and that’s totally cool. But, eventually you will have help, so you can update that later or, even knowing that you will be doing it yourself for now, you can still assign it to the . Some of the people who may eventually be part of your system are:
- Virtual assistant
- Office manager
- Graphic designer
- Social media manager
What tools will be used to make this system work? Some examples are:
- Social media schedulers like Later.com or MeetEdgar
- Project management platforms like Asana or Trello
- Google spreadsheets
- Graphics creators like Canva or PicMonkey
- Boomerang for fun Instagram Posts
Now Let’s Focus on Creating Processes
Just like with creating systems, don’t try to do everything at once, it’s overwhelming. Instead think about a few areas in your business that seem to take up a lot of time and that you find yourself doing over and over again.
If you need some help identifying places to start, here is a list of areas in your business that will benefit from processes. Decide on the ones that you feel need your attention and hen which three you will start with. Again, the key here is to be detailed and include each step that’s taken in order to make something happen.
- How to respond to negative comments on social media
- How to respond to positive comments on social media
- How to answer product-related questions
- How to prioritize tasks
- How to handle vendor miscommunication
- How to decide on pay rates for team
- How to write new product descriptions
- How to come up with blogging topics
- How to identify possible collaborators
Polish Your Voice and Tone
Start by creating a list of words and phrases that your brand will use. This helps to streamline communication and make clear to team members what is OK to say. This list is decided based on your brand voice and tone.
Examples of words and phrases you brand might say:
- Hell yeah!
- On it
- Diggin your style
- Oh, no way
Now create a list of words and phrases that your brand definitely does not say. This is just as important as the words that your brand would say. As an example, I can’t stand the word “fashionista” and don’t want it used in StartUp FASHION’s communication.
Other examples could be…
- Love it!
- You’re wrong
- I don’t care
- Our policy states
- Any profanity
Record Your Processes
Sit down an write out the processes for your three chosen areas of business. Write out the scenarios and touch on the following points:
- Who handles this area
- What to say
- What not to say
- Create a script
- Time frame for process (respond time, creative thinking time, etc.)
- If there’s a schedule for this process; and what that schedule is.
- Resources for this process
That’s it! You’ve officially gotten the ball rolling on implementing systems and processes into your business, which will inevitably make you a much more productive and effective business owner.
This week our StartUp FASHION Community is open and accepting new members. (We close January 25th!) The above blog post is a very small taste of the kinds of useful, step-by-step workbooks we provide our members. It’s just a hint of the content, as our workbooks go into much more detail, and include a long list of tools and resources for #makingStUFhappen and getting results in your business.
If you’d like to join us, and get immediate access to a library of step-by-step information that makes it possible to check things off your task list, make sales, increase your email list, run effective quality control, get your brand into the press, and so much more, we’d love to meet you.