Oh friends. We all know the feeling of getting started. It’s like this amazing, giant rush… and then the panic sets in once we realize that there are so many things to do that we never studied or prepared for. Starting a small business can feel a lot like trying to drink out of a water hose. We flip on the metaphorical open sign and then we just try our very best to keep up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Establishing effective systems early on in your business can be a game changer. Our systems and workflow become these amazing Life Rafts for our businesses when things get crazy. They can ensure that you are able to not just keep up, but to thrive and have more margin to do the things that you really love – the things that, more than likely, are why you got into this whole entrepreneur thing to begin with (Are you nodding your head in agreement? Amen hands emojis? Let’s keep going!).
Friend, you chose an interesting career. Creative entrepreneurs are one of the only jobs that we can think of where the professional spends most of their time doing things other than what they are actually named for. Doctors are usually doctoring. Farmers are usually farming. Bankers are usually banking. Creatives, on the other hand, are only photographers/ painters/ designers for about 10% of their working hours (if they’re lucky). The rest of the time they are focused on clients, marketing, editing, book-keeping, and just about everything else. You do a lot. Hats off to you!
So, the question that we want to answer is: How can we create as many life rafts for our business as possible?
Tim Ferris, in The Four Hour Work Week, talks about the ideas of efficiency and effectiveness:
Effectiveness is that which you do that gets you closer to the goals you want to achieve
Efficiency is how quickly you can get things done, whether it is important or not We want you to take these ideas and use them to define the ideas of shortcuts and time-sucks.
Shortcuts – Choosing Efficiency over Effectiveness
Time-sucks – Choosing Effectiveness over Efficiency
Time-savers – Increase the Efficiency of an already Effective task
In our small business, the goal is to create systems (life rafts!) that are as efficient as possible without sacrificing their effectiveness. We want them to work fast and work well. If they aren’t doing both of these things, then we need to try and rework them.
When your systems are efficient and effective, that’s really when they become a life-raft that will keep your business above water even in the busiest, most hectic of times. That’s when they are falling into the Golden Mean of being time-savers – and that’s exactly what we want more of!
We know that it can be a challenge to commit to creating effective, efficient systems, but the time you will be putting into establishing these Life Rafts is time well spent. It will require effort on the front end that will reap real, meaningful rewards at the end. You owe it to yourself to set your business up to be as exceptional as you are. You can do this, friend!!
When you are establishing these effective systems, you want to make sure that they are:
Replicable: When we edit, we follow the same process over and over (and over) again which means that every-time we edit, we are getting better and faster at doing it.
Scalable: The client management system that we use is the same one that we started using in year two of our business. This system is amazing because it was able to support 10 clients a year, and it has been able to support more than 50 clients a year. A good system will be able to grow with you so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time your business changes.
Teachable: The best systems are ones that are easy to pass off to someone else. When we hired our studio manager, it was easy to teach her how we designed albums because we had defined that system so well.
Once we have effective systems in place, we can get to the fun part: automation. So many of our daily tasks are ones that we do over and over again. We answer the same questions for clients, import and export our images the same way, send contracts and invoices, post to social media, design albums, and even follow up with potential clients using the same sequence of emails. We can automate each of these tasks, saving seconds, minutes and hours every time we do them. It’s like conjuring time out of thin air! Amazing! Below are some of our favorite time saving tools that we have come across. Each one of them saves us minutes of time every day. Those minutes add up to hours, and the hours add up to days that we can spend doing things that make us feel alive, like spending time as a family in the mountains or having kitchen dance-offs (you’re welcome to join anytime, just bring your best moves!).
To learn more about creating Life Rafts for your business and to get our favorite time-saving tools delivered to your inbox, check out our free eBook.