One of the best ways to feel less stressed in business is to create business systems and processes that allow our business to be more streamlined, more productive, and ultimately, more profitable. When we are able to streamline and create systems in our business, a huge portion of our business is allowed to run without supervision and we take the time to do that CEO work which allows us to grow our business. Having the right business systems allows us to do things in the most effective and efficient way based on whatever our business goals are. And it just helps us work smarter, not harder.
Refining Your Business Systems
Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. Hello, and welcome to another episode of Strategy forCreatives:
Business Minus the Bullshit. I of course, am your host Sasha. And it is a brand new month guys, which means we are jumping in to a new monthly topic for the podcast. I figured out that I think the way... the best way for me to arrange this podcast is to kind of do themes. I work better in themes. I think it helps organize better when you have a theme in your head. And so for this month, I wanted to talk about process improvement and ways that we can improve our systems in our businesses, whether or not we know it's time to outsource and tools that we can use in our businesses to help us achieve those things. And so when we talk about process improvement, that can be a little bit scary for some business owners. What exactly does that mean? What does that look like? How do we know how to do it. So this episode, I wanted to start with kind of the basics. We're going to be talking about how to figure out and create business systems, aka workflows, automations, or even low tech options for those of you who aren't quite there yet, in order to make our business run better. So let's talk about what a business system is right? Systems allow your business to run easily, while making a more streamline, more productive, and ultimately, and this, of course, is the important one more profitable, because y'all know I keep saying this business is about making money. When we are able to streamline and create systems in our business, a huge portion of our business is allowed to run without supervision, we can step back from a lot of that work. And therefore it allows us the time to do that CEO work that I'm always talking about, which allows us to grow our business, come up with new goals, do the things that are money making, but kind of long term goal planning. So it helps things get done faster, it can eliminate bottlenecks, it will reduce our workload, you can take vacations without worrying about whether or not your business is going to keep functioning. So having business systems allows us just to do the things, the most streamlined way, the most effective and efficient way based on whatever our business goals are. And it just helps us work smarter, not harder. So when it comes to figuring out how to create a business system for you, there are a couple of steps along the way that are going to help you figure out this process. So I'm gonna just walk through them. And essentially, all of this episode is going to be one big action item, right? We're going to walk through these steps. And I want you to think about processes in your business that you can do this for; that you can break down these processes and allow you to come up with a system that works for you and your business. So the first thing we're going to do is identify all the activities in our business, right. Systems, any type of system, they come in a lot of different forms. It doesn't have to be something that's automated. But it can be something that is a process that's broken down in a way that makes more sense for you that allows you to tackle it in a more streamlined fashion. So it's anything that you do regularly or can be a single activity that you're likely to repeat in the future. So for example, things that we do regularly in our business, publishing blog posts, sending email newsletters, sending out proposals, invoicing, going on discovery calls, all of those are regularly recurring activities. Things that you might be doing once but that can be repeatable, aka the process can be repeatable, are things like hosting a webinar, or launching a product or writing guest posting. We don't do those as often, but for example, if I host a webinar, I might not be hosting a webinar on that same exact topic, but my process and the system behind it around me creating that webinar should be the same in order to streamline that process. So in order to give structure to whatever systems we're going to come up with, it's easiest to kind of categorize the activities of what your processes are or what you're doing into activities for your business. So these standard ones are things like operations, sales and marketing, and finance. Those are the three main like CEO things in our business. Operations, of course, are anything that you do on the back end of your business, things like goal setting, business planning, any sort of email management, website maintenance, all of that is around operations. Sales and marketing, of course is how we attract customers or clients to our business. And it could also be how we work with other businesses. If we're in a collaboratory, space with businesses, and we work with businesses and collaborate a lot. That can be anything from content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, affiliate partnerships, if you do advertising, product launches, pretty much the bread and butter of your business, the the what you're creating, or selling, how are we marketing that. And then the main other one is, of course, finance. So financial activities, including any type of bookkeeping, file, filing your taxes, payroll, if you have that if you get affiliate payouts, anything like that. You want to take all of the activities in your business and sort of categorize them into which bucket those fall into, because that'll help you figure out how it's best to tackle creating a system for that. Next up, we're gonna break down each of those activities. So now we've come up with activity, now we're gonna break it down. And we're gonna think about what the process tools, people and strategies needed to complete that activity from start to finish. Process, of course, step by step. What is the actual step by step process to complete this? So if you're talking about, for example, onboarding a client, what is the step by step process for that? Do they get a welcome packet? Do you shoot them an email that says "welcome"? Do they have to pay an invoice? Do they have to sign a contract? What is the process for that? Next up, you want to think about the tools that you're using for that, whether it's an automated system, for example, I use Dubsado, when it comes to any of that, but what tools are you using to to go through that process? And then who are the people in charge of that process? Is it just you? Are you lucky enough to have a team where you can outsource some of that stuff to? And then lastly, what are the strategies? So what are the techniques or the tactics that you use in order to complete that process? So again, you want to go through and break down each activity into these four steps, right. And then you want to kind of create an outline of what that looks like. So you know, what the process is, what tools you're using, who the people in charge of it are, and then what strategies you might be using to effectively do that activity in your business. And that's going to help you see pretty clearly where you can start to automate or where you can start to reduce redundancies in your business. Where you can take steps that maybe don't work anymore, or that people have a lot of questions about where you can remove those. That's going to help you figure out how to improve the system that you have. Because the whole goal of this when we're talking about creating systems for our business, it's really about looking inward into our business, and seeing what's working and what's not working, and then creating something that works better. So once you done that first step, you figured out the activities in your business, whether it's operations, sales, and marketing, finance, we've taken those activities, we've broken them down into the process tools, people and strategies. Now we're going to look at ways to improve on that system. What do you want that system to do for you? Do you want it to make something run faster? Make it more streamlined? Do you want to automate it? Are you looking to reduce the steps in it, reduce that workload, free up more of your time? Are there places where things seem to be getting stuck, and so you're looking to eliminate bottlenecks, maybe take out steps you don't need anymore? Or do you want a process to make you more money, or possibly this, the alternative is to have less expense with that. And kind of work backwards from the goal to create a process that's gonna make sense for you and your business. You also want to think about things that you can defer, So I like to do something where again, we look at the goal, and we're gonna see how we can accomplish that goal. Think about deleting anything from that process, that doesn't make right? What aspects in this system, this process of yours sense, whether it's, the task doesn't make sense anymore, you don't need to really do that in your business anymore. The tool that you're using isn't working for you. Either you need a isn't really helpful and doesn't need to be done right now. For better tool or a different tool. Maybe the people that are doing it isn't the right people to be completing that task, or the way example, if you're doing a product launch, right, there's that you're going about it, the strategy that you're using is either time consuming, it's unnecessary, it's redundant to something else that you're doing. It's no longer relevant lots of pieces that go into a product launch, but do you need to what you need to be doing or it's not productive anymore. So take away anything out of that process that doesn't make sense anymore. to do the upsells for it? Do you need to encourage people you You also want to think about ways that you can improve any system or process. You can critique it in each of those categories that we talked about earlier, right. So look at those know, to add something extra to their cart? Maybe you don't need separate things that we talked about - the process, the tools, to do that as that part of the system right now. Or something as simple as having graphics for your emails, maybe you don't need graphics in your emails, because that's delaying the process. That's slowing it down for you. Maybe you just work better with a text email. And you don't need to include that part in the process anymore. Think about what you can automate. I'm really big into automation. It helps things go so much quicker and so much easier when your business starts working for you and you're not involved in all of the little steps in your business. So are there software and tools out there that you can use, whether it's a free tool, or maybe one that it makes sense to start paying for, where you can start automating some of those tasks. And I'm going to talk about later this month, the tools that I use in my business that helped my business run more smoothly. But think about ways that you can start automating some of these processes in your business. You also want to think about what you can delegate. I'm also going to do an episode this month about outsourcing the people, the strategies, and look, if any of those make because sometimes improving our business systems and our sense, or are working in that system. For example, in the process, or all of those steps necessary. Like I said, can you consolidate? Can you delete them? Is the process being done processes has a lot to do with us not doing them anymore, and in the correct order? A lot of the times we do things that make sense to us until the actual process starts playing out. So outsourcing that to people who are more skilled and have time maybe in the past, you've sent out an invoice, and a client has paid it and then they never signed the contract because you send that out after. So maybe it makes more sense to either send to be completing those tasks. Because there's a lot in our them out together, or send the contract first and then the invoice. Does the order of the steps and whatever processor system you have, does it make sense? Is it giving you the business, when we get to a certain level that it is not the results that you want? Look at the tools that you're using for these processes? Is it the best tool for the job? Is it good best use of our time, our energy, our skills, or even we based on the price? Are you using the free version, but would the paid version be better? Are there better tools out there? Are there more expensive or less expensive might not have the expertise to actually complete those tasks. tools that will allow you to complete the job better and faster. Just because there are more expensive options doesn't mean it's the best way or the best option for your business. There are tons of tools that we can use to create business Maybe it's something that frustrates you. Maybe something systems and improve our processes that cost nothing or can cost a lot of money. It just depends on what you need it to do for you. you don't like doing. Consider outsourcing these tasks. And What are the people? Who are the people that are doing these tasks for you? Is it all you? Does that make sense? Are you giving it to the right people? For example, if you have a virtual assistant, and you're giving them all of your social again, I'll talk about those later on this month in another media processing, is that what they're skilled at? Does it make sense for them to do that for you? Or do you need to look at some or bringing on a social media manager? Does that make episode. And then you want to think about what you can more sense? Who are the people who are completing these processes for you? And think about the strategies behind anything that you're doing. Are they actually working? Are there consolidate? What is being redundant. What is left of the better strategies that you could be using? Are you flying by the seat of your pants when you're coming up with these things? Or is there action plans behind it? Obviously, I'm a business tasks and these process? Are there things that you can batch strategist, so I strategize everything that I do. I come up with action plans for everything that I do. My blogs and my emails, and my podcast, I create all of that at the beginning of to make them run faster? Such as, like, if you're doing social the month, I strategize what my topic is going to be and how each episode is going to flow into each other and how I'm media, right? Can you just go through instead of replying to going to do blog posts that coordinate with all of the episodes and how I'm going to email to talk about the episodes and how that flows into my social media. I strategize all comments one by one? Can you go through and reply to all of them of that every month. And so are you doing things like that? Or are you kind of just winging it and coming up with what seems to work best in the moment. at the end of the day? Or maybe setting aside an hour a day to Then you want to kind of track and test right. So you've, you've now we figured out what our systems are, what our processes are, we figured out things that we can cut or add answer emails versus answering them as they come into your into our processes, where we can consolidate, the people who we can give things to. Now we want to sit back and figure out which is working and which isn't. So making sure that you are testing inbox. I do... I consolidate or a batch process, my podcast these processes is imperative to running your business successfully. You want to make sure that you are figuring out recording. I record all of these all in one day for the most part if the workflows or the automations, or the process that you've come up with is making sense. is it working the way it's supposed to? If you want to get really fancy and technical, for the month. And that's a way that I've found in my system, it you can come up with KPIs, key performance indicators, that you know, where you have certain metrics that you're measuring for, I always suggest doing that for certain things. For example, works best for me. Instead of me having to record weekly, I will if you have, you know, an email marketing process, and you want to see if that's converting into people, what's your click rate on your emails? You know, put, put that as a metric to start do three episodes up front. And that way, it just helps my testing. Who is opening your emails, how many people are clicking on the links, that you're putting your emails? You can put KPIs like that, to figure out whether or not your process run smoother when in terms of editing, in terms of systems and processes are working more for you. Some of the stuff might not be as measurable in terms of automation, but things like is it freeing up more time for you? getting the blog post out there and things like that. So what Do you see things running more smoothly? Are there less hiccups in your business? Are you getting stuck in less places. Are the clients or your customers more satisfied with can you consolidate. your services because of the experience that you're giving or the process that you're going through with them. Look at what your systems are doing for you and figure out if it's working. This is always going to be a recurring process in your business. Looking at our business systems, looking at the processes that we have in our system, it's not a one time thing. You always want to track and test and figure out what's working. And then you're going to go back lastly, evaluate and improve on that. So essentially, like I just said, once you go through and figure out what your activities in your business are, what those business systems and processes are, what they look like working all through that, testing and seeing if it actually works, if it's actually improving anything in your business, and then going back asking those questions, and reevaluating and making adjustments, so you can figure out over and over again, does the process still working? Does the tool still work? Are the people right to be doing this? Do I have the right strategy to do this? Are your systems in place - the systems and processes that you have in place - are they actually solving a problem in your business? Are they helping you to reach a goal? And if they are, is there any change that needs to happen? Can your processes be easily replicated? Can somebody come right in and jump into a process. So you want to continuously go back and look at those, refine them, tweak them, and note how things are improving or maybe not improving and make your systems work for you. Your systems are not set in stone. Any system that you have in your business, it's going to change as your business grows, the environment that you're working in changes, its... systems are meant to adapt and evolve with whatever's going on. I guarantee you that a lot of people had systems in place in their business prior to COVID that no longer work anymore. People had to change the way that they reach out to people that they contact clients that they do discovery calls. So those systems and processes changed a lot for a lot of people. And so as the environment your business is in changes, as your clientele changes, as your business grows, and maybe you have a team, all of that will continuously change. And so it's important to start reevaluating if those systems and processes are working for you. So I wanted to do this episode first in the series, because having the right framework for what our business systems are, and how to create processes around that is essential to figuring out what I'm going to be talking about for the rest of the month, which is whether or not it makes sense to outsource and the right tools for the job. So the main takeaway I wanted you to have for this episode, like I said, is to kind of walk through all of these steps for the systems in your business. For the activities that you're doing in your business. Look at what's working. Look how you can improve in those systems. Look at whether the tools, the process, the strategies and the people that you're using make sense for whatever those business activities are, and then think about ways that you can improve on them. Because having good systems in place for your business is key to having your business run smoothly. And most importantly, it lets you work smarter, not harder. And for me, that's always the goal. Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at www.by-sasha.com. If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course, following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.