“There’s so much to do and not enough time” is a phrase almost every client has said to me. It’s true – to run a successful online business requires time, energy and money. There IS a lot to do. But there are ways to free up your time so you’re focusing on your core business and clients. Creating systems saves time for any entrepreneur.
Systems help you:
- save time
- scale your business
- focus on your “real” work
- increase revenue
- reduce your mental clutter
- delegate/outsource parts of your business and
- prevent problems or miscommunications
Who doesn’t want all of that?
How to Create Systems
Tired of the everyday mundane tasks? Creating systems will help. And combining the systems with automation and outsourcing – and you can gain back hours of your time every week. In addition, by documenting your processes – it’s easier to outsource to a virtual assistant.
To develop a system, pick one area that you do often and that requires a lot of your time. The key to developing systems is to think through each step of a process.
For instance, how does a client pay for my services? Then think through each step
Then create your process and document it (using a Google Doc or a program like Process.st).
Next, you’ll need to test it for a little while – and potentially make some tweaks. (You can always ask a team member or friend to test it out for you and see if it flowed.)
Systems that Save Time
Here are a couple of potential systems that might work for your business:
1. Lead Generation – If you’re an online business, it’s important to have new people learning about you, your product or service. While referrals are a great way to gain new clients, they aren’t predictable or consistent. Having a free checklist or ebook allows people to sign up for your list, and then you start to send them emails to nurture the relationship. Or maybe you have a webinar or challenge where people sign up and learn more about you. Whether you use Instagram stories or Pinterest it’s important to have a plan to generate new leads in your business. The system for your optin is to have a landing page and sign up form. Then you have an automated welcome email and a sequence (series of emails) that go out automatically. Once you make this system – it can run without you checking on it!
2. Social Media Scheduling – A big time saver is bulk creating several social media posts and then scheduling them to go out over time. This frees up your time each day to work for your clients etc. For Facebook, it’s probably best to use the Creator Studio (since it’s Facebook’s own scheduler). But for others, Buffer, SocialBee or other schedulers can save you a lot of time.
3. Payment System – if you’re a business, you need to have a way to be paid. And you want an easy system for your client. Make it easy for your clients to pay you. There are programs like SendOwl which make it easy and secure to sell digital products. If you sell a service, you can often use your scheduling software like Acuity or Dubsado a more robust system. Paypal or Stripe are also options. Just think through the process – so that it is easy and seamless for your client.
4. Scheduling System – If you have calls with clients, you don’t want to have to go back and forth via email. Instead, software like Acuity or Calendly allow you to set up a service page where clients can go and schedule their own appointment. They even allow you to have a questionnaire and take payments. Most of these programs also sync with your Google Calendar, send reminders to you and your client and allow you to add in “buffer” time between appointments. And the best part? You don’t have to worry about time zone snafus – as these systems have the option to set your own time zones. This system takes you completely out of the scheduling process – and you are notified when you have a new appointment schedule. A huge time saver.
5. Invoicing System – If you have the type of business where you invoice clients or customers, streamlining this process will save you a lot of time. Programs like Freshbooks or HoneyBook allow you to send invoices – with links that your client can click and pay directly. No mailing out invoices and waiting for payments. You can also quickly resend invoices if needed.
6. Task Management – if you work with a team or others, having a task or project management system will save you a lot of time. Programs like Asana or Trello allow you to assign tasks to others (and yourself) and let you see any documents associated with the task, as well as track the progress. No going back and forth via email – you can see what’s happening.
7. Client Onboarding System – Your first client signed up. Now what? Do you have a contract? Have you taken payment? Do you have a welcome contract? Think through this entire process to make it streamlined for your clients. Using programs like Dubsado, Satori or Bonsai, you can have a contract sent, have them sign it, sent copies out, and have automated emails go out. The client sees this efficiency and engagement and is impressed.
8. Email Marketing System – If you talk to most online business owners, the one thing they wish they had done differently is usually – start their email list earlier. On your email list, there are people that may not be clients now….but you still want to keep in touch with them. Programs like ConvertKit or Active Campaign allow you to send broadcasts, or series of emails, and get the data on what type of content they like and what doesn’t go over as well.
This can help inform your business as to where you should focus your efforts. In addition, you can tag people in different ways and send them very targeted emails. Did they click a link to find out more about your accounting service? You can tag them and send up a series of emails to warm them up. Remember – you will want to build the know-like-trust factor. Social Media is one way, but email marketing is another one. And it often takes up to 7 “touches” (or contact) before they’ll buy. Sending out emails individually to clients is great, but if you have a list of 1,000+ – it’s way to hard (plus it probably goes against the CAN SPAM act). Starting with a system will save you time and give you data for your business.
How to Create Systems
Now I don’t recommend that you go and start systematizing everything in your business right away (you could go crazy…).
Pick one area where you think you can get the biggest win (maybe a scheduling system for clients). Decide what save you the most time and be the easiest to implement. And start there.
Developing systems in your business will allow you the time, energy and freedom to focus on the work you love.
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