When you’re a team of one (or just a few), you need workflows to boost your profits. Otherwise, you can find yourself burning the proverbial candle from both ends trying to grow your business.
And while passion is admirable, if you can’t fit your passion into some reasonable boundaries, you’re headed down a path that can lead to exhaustion, depression, burnout and a host of other issues.
As I’ve worked with thousands of freelancers and solopreneurs over the last decade, I’ve noticed one critical difference between those who are clearly burning out and those who work a reasonable number of hours and then enjoy life in their off-time.
That big difference is dedication to workflows or systems.
Freelancers who bring in great revenue each month are most often the ones that prioritize the building of repeatable, predictable actions in their own business.
They focus on getting better at running a business as much (or more) than they focus on getting better at their craft.
These small business owners quickly offload any mundane or time-sucking tasks. Those tasks can easily be outsourced to an app or another person and focus only on profit-generating, important and fun work in their business.
Today, I’d like to share a few of the best workflows I’ve seen solopreneurs and freelancers adopt. These keep them sane and boost their business profits at the same time.
Here we go! Read on for 6 Workflows to Boost Your Profits.
Workflow 1: Pitching & Selling
The biggest reason I’ve seen one-person businesses struggle is because the owner gets so wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks, they forget to keep selling.
When you stop selling, you stop booking. Then, when you stop booking, you stop making money.
So, naturally, one of the most important workflows you should focus on is how to sell on a regular basis. This is important regardless of how much work you have on your plate.
How to set it up
At its most basic, consider setting an “appointment” with yourself each week or multiple times a week. This appointment is strictly for sales and business development. And then keep your appointment every single time.
The idea is to build a workflow that forces you to always be selling.
Workflow 2: Responding to Inquiries
Of course, it does you zero good to always be selling if you don’t have a good process set up for responding to new client inquiries.
It would be a shame if you optimized your portfolio site and started getting more inquiries than you could handle—only to let far too many of them fall through the cracks.
To avoid this disastrous situation, you’ll want a workflow that happens on autopilot (or as close as possible) when you receive an inquiry from a client.
How to set it up
A great basic solution is to have a dedicated email address for inquiries ([email protected] or something similar). Forward these emails to your default business email address.
Most email providers will then allow you to automatically mark messages from certain senders as important (star, favorite, priority, etc.). That way, you always respond to inquiry emails first.
Alternately, you could hire a freelancer whose entire job is to respond in a timely fashion to email inquiries you receive.
A much simpler (and more efficient) option would be to use Automations with HoneyBook’s client workflow automation software. This sends an automatic response anytime someone fills out your website inquiry form.
This video will show you exactly how you can set it up. Then, each time you get an inquiry, the potential client gets a quick response—even when you’re swamped or sleeping. This is a great example of implementing workflows to boost your profits.
Workflow 3: Getting Feedback/Files from Clients
You know it can be one of the biggest bottlenecks you face in your business if your project depends a lot on getting feedback or files from clients.
Letting a project get held up for weeks or months because the client won’t send their feedback or important source files can destroy your cash flow quickly.
From experience, you may know that you’re as likely to forget to remind your client as they are to forget in the first place. In a worst-case scenario, you put off the project so long you lose track of it. Then, you never get paid for it.
This is why you need a workflow to follow-up with clients.
How to set it up
Do you simply need clients to send files or feedback before you can make progress on your project? You might consider using something like ContentSnare to automate this process.
Even better, you can preempt this issue by using HoneyBook to automatically send emails to your client. You can do this based on project due dates, when they sign the contract, when the project starts and a lot more.
For starters, you can set up HoneyBook Automations that trigger:
- # days before a project starts
- # days after a payment is made
- # days after a project is completed
And tons more.
Workflow 4: Getting Projects Completed On-Schedule
None of this matters—selling, replying to inquiries, getting feedback—if you can’t complete your projects on-schedule.
That’s because, when you miss a deadline with a client, you miss opportunities. You not only delay getting paid, you also send the message that you’re unreliable and your client should think twice before hiring you again.
Let’s avoid that kind of bad karma.
Instead, build workflows that will help you get your projects completed on-time, every time.
How to set it up
Do this to keep it simple. Get a calendar and hang it by your desk. Then, live and die by the dates you write for yourself. You may want to consider batching client projects to be more productive.
The better solution would be to find a project management app that you really like. Discipline yourself to use it until it’s running smoothly. For basic task-tracking (which you can also assign to a project or a client!) try using the HoneyBook tasks tool.
Use templates to work faster
Workflow 5: Updating Your Portfolio
I recently had a client tell me my work seemed stale, old and outdated. It hurt. Then, I realized something in that moment. I had been working so hard on new projects, I had let my portfolio grow stale.
So naturally, anytime a potential client decided to visit my portfolio, they weren’t seeing my best work.
This can be fixed with a simple automation. Implement these tips each time you complete a project.
How to set it up
Make sure to add a few critical tasks after the project is delivered when you’re building your project to-do-list. One of these is to update your portfolio if the project is worthy of including on your portfolio. (More post-project workflows below. Keep reading.)
Or, use HoneyBook Automations to automatically create a task 1-7 days after the project is completed called “Consider Including in Portfolio.” That’s a great idea to implement instead of banking on remembering to add this critical task to your to-do list.
Workflow 6: Getting Testimonials and Referrals from Clients
One study shows that word of mouth marketing is the #1 source of new business for freelancers and solopreneurs.
And I believe it.
So you’re missing out on a huge potential for new business if you don’t have a system for getting referrals.
Much like considering what to add to your portfolio, you should never complete a project without also sending a follow-up email to your client asking for a testimonial. You can also ask if they know anyone that would benefit from working with you.
Luckily, you can do that easily from your HoneyBook workflows. You can send an automated email, create a task to send the emails or make the phone calls yourself.
The Key to Successful Workflows to Boost Your Profits
The trick to creating workflows that actually save you time (instead of causing even more work) is to identify where you’re wasting time and effort each day. Then find patterns or connections between these time-wasters.
From there, identify how you handle these issues each time they arise. Finally, create workflows and systems based on these repeatable actions.
Over time, you’ll adjust, learn and change what you do. Eventually you’ll get it so dialed in that you create workflows to boost your profits. Then, you’ll basically run on autopilot. It’s a magical thing.
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This post was updated in August 2021 when the HoneyBook Workflow tool was renamed to Automations. The HoneyBook Automations tool maintains the same functionality with the ability to automate communications, tasks and more. For more information about the Automations update, check our August 2021 Release Notes.