How do you avoid wasting time in your business? How can you improve your processes and save time? These are some questions I answer in this episode
What you will learn in this episode:
- How to detect and fix cluttered systems
- How to create clear and simple processes
- How to simplify your tasks and achieve more with less
Every entrepreneur experiences pitfalls in which she (or he) might waste a lot of time.
In this podcast episode, I introduce three of them and also give you easy tips on how you can avoid these pitfalls. So, what are some ways to save time in your business?
1. The first problem is cluttered systems. What do I mean by that?
Do you know where all your invoices are? Both on paper and in digital form? Do you know where all emails from your clients related to a specific service or training are?
Can you imagine how much time it must take to find just one file, one email, or one invoice when it's somewhere amongst other tens of thousands of files or a hundred thousand emails or in a pile that’s 10 cm tall? And I'm not even talking about the stress or panic it must cause...
So, how can you simplify and organize your systems?
Fortunately, somebody has invented the file folder where you can strategically organize your invoices and other essential documents. And similarly, there are digital file folders and email folders to organize your digital files.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution as each of us and our businesses are so different. Nevertheless, I can give you some recommendations on folders everybody should have.
So, how could you systemize your files (and emails)?
These are some folders everybody should have:
- Documents, including the establishing documents of your business, licenses you've bought, trademarks you've applied for, and all kinds of agreements.
- Money and finances, including all invoices, receipts, taxes, and also communication with your accountant and/or tax representative.
- Clients, including agreements if it applies to your business, and communication with your clients.
- Services/products, including all documents and emails related to your services or products in general.
- Employees, subcontractors, and co-operation partners, including any agreements and communication with them.
And these folders could also have sub-folders. For example, for your product folder, you can have a sub-folder for each product. And if needed you can create additional sub-folders for your sub-folders.
Why so many folders? If your information is well categorized, you'll find the information quicker as there are fewer files or documents to check, and therefore, you save time.
What other folders could you have?
- Maybe one for the courses you've bought?
- Maybe one for all kinds of freebies you've downloaded?
- Maybe one for marketing information with specific sub-folders for Facebook, IG, and other social media channels?
- Maybe one for newsletters you're receiving?
- Maybe one for your newsletters?
- Maybe one for business ideas?
What other aspects should you take into account when sorting your files and documents?
If you are using paper documents and physical folders, I suggest using a chronological list. You can add the newest documents either on top or at the bottom. Then, you'll find your documents quicker.
If you create computer files, I suggest using a date in the title. This is especially useful if you have a lot of similar files. How do you add dates? The best format is YYYYMMDD. This way all your documents are automatically in chronological order.
If you create computer files, I suggest using the name of your product or service and the name of your client in the title. The title can then be, for example, "1-to-1 coaching - Tuuli Paaksi - intake form 20210126."
Well-structured files and emails—and file names indicating the content—can save both your time and sanity.
If you decide to now check the number of your emails or files, there is no need to panic. You can start creating these folders for every email and file you create from this point on. And you can name your files using this new system from here on out. And if you need some file (or email) from the past, you can then change its title and move it to the correct folder. This way, changing to a simpler system won't become overwhelming.
How much time can you save with a proper file system?
2. The second problem is an unclear process.
What is the process? The process is a series of tasks somebody (you as a business owner, your employee or collaborator, or your client) has to do.
This process can be something like the sequence of activities required to make a freebie available for clients to download, consisting of creating the freebie, uploading it somewhere, creating a CTA (call to action), and connecting it with an email marketing platform. This process can be a series of tasks required for you to publish a blog article and tell people about it on every social media channel (writing text and creating various graphics, maybe even videos). The process can be a series of steps that a client has to complete to get a coaching session (buying the session, filling out the intake form, and scheduling the session).
Why is documenting your processes so important?
Have you ever created a process and when you had to change one specific piece of information, you had to do proper detective work to identify all of its components? Or have you ever hired VAs and then had difficulties in clarifying those different steps that (s)he had to take to do the job?
Creating a process is easy. Explaining it to somebody else or making changes to it if you haven't documented it properly can be a real puzzle.
If you would like to have paying clients, you have to have your sales funnel in place. It may have some freebies or automated emails or links to an intake form or scheduling system. If just one of these doesn't work properly, you may not have any paying clients. And finding this mistake can be mission impossible.
Recently, I had to make some changes to one of my sales funnels. The one I created a long time ago. Back then I documented my processes. The only problem was that it wasn't done well enough. Some information and some links were missing. The ones I urgently needed now. And following all these steps and checking all my links and websites and HTML codes and automated emails...Let's just say that it took several weeks to sort everything out so that it wouldn’t create any unwanted emails or send the client to the wrong website.
Nowadays, I have all my processes -- all the links, all downloads, all forms, all steps. Everything is listed. I have two pieces of software I use for this -- OneNote and Airtable. OneNote I use for more descriptive information. All the copy from my documents, emails, and websites is in OneNote. I have created the outline of this podcast episode in OneNote. Airtable is more data oriented -- you can use it to create your CRM, product development, social media campaigns, project trackers, sales trackers, to-do lists, and so much more. There I have the podcast management system and also the database of my blog posts (dates, keywords, tags, graphics, CTAs, links, etc.). And what is great about this is that it's easy to share your bases (tables) with your team!
How much ease can you bring to your business with well-documented processes?
Creating a process is easy. Explaining it to somebody else or making changes to it if you haven't documented it properly can be a real puzzle. - Tuuli Paaksi, Podcast Step Up & Thrive
3. The third problem is that you do too much. Yes, you do!
Let me explain it to you...Or actually, let me ask you one question!
How many times have you created similar emails or documents or websites or social media posts from scratch?
How about using templates?
If you have created something once you can use it again and again and again. Do you need some examples?
Let's say that you have a client asking for additional information about some product and you have written your reply. What you can do is to save the text and if next time there is the same or a similar question, you can use that text again.
Let's say you have created a nice email series for your new product. What you can do is save the text and use it for your next product. Of course, you should change your data and testimonials—and prices—but the structure and sequence can be the same.
What else can you use?
- Calls to action (CTAs)
- Sales emails
- Landing pages
- Social media posts
- (Social media) graphics
- Information about training courses or other events you organize
What is great is that it doesn't only have to be the material you have created! You can use inspiration from others as well. Please don't mix this up with simple copying! This wouldn't be nice; this wouldn't be professional. So please, don't copy! Use other people’s templates and swipe files for inspiration!
And on the Internet, you can find a lot of freebies and paid products providing you with great templates. Why not use those?
I love Airtable and I have created some templates for small business owners. The idea was to make your life easier and save you time as well. This set of templates will help you make yearly plans, plan online training events, manage blog posts, manage social media graphics, track physical and digital products and orders, and keep a Gratitude Journal.
Would you like to organize your business with greater ease and without overwhelm? You'll find free and paid resources on the podcast note page https://stepupandthrivepodcast.com/14
So, there are three ways for you to save your time in business, make your life easier, and, of course, keep your sanity:
- create simple systems
- document your processes
- use templates and swipe files.
What can you do with all this free time now?
Take care of yourself, have fun, and create new products!
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