Many entrepreneurs focus on having a nice logo, consistent brand colors or a large social media following when building a profitable business. While these are elements of your brand identity, some entrepreneurs neglect to establish systems to manage their business when it is time to scale. Scaling a business occurs when you experience increased sales and demand for your services. However, many entrepreneurs find they cannot handle the volume of work they now have to manage. As a result, many (especially solopreneurs) find themselves frustrated and overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks such as:
- Answering the same questions over and over again.
- Having to nurture potential leads manually.
- Fulfilling a laundry list of administrative tasks.
- Feeling like you have to follow the latest challenge on social media to stay relevant.
It is not easy to scale without systems in place to support your growth. A lack of systems can lead to potential clients slipping through the cracks. However, by establishing systems, you can manage your business more efficiently and even convert clients more quickly. Driving the growth you want in your business requires planning, having efficient processes in place and utilizing tools to eliminate some of your manual operations.
If you don’t know where to start, here are steps you can take to run your business on autopilot:
Conduct A Website Audit
The first mistake entrepreneurs make is not having a clear and compelling website. Your website reflects your brand and is the first impression a potential customer has of your business. Therefore, your website should detail what you offer, who you serve, the transformational benefits you provide and frequently asked questions. Your website should position you as the industry expert or go-to brand for the services you provide. These details give a potential client a clear picture of your brand identity and the value you provide.
Additionally, you need a method to capture and nurture potential clients automatically. Should tools such as Facebook and Instagram become outdated, like Myspace and Tumblr did, your website ensures you still have a way for your ideal clients to discover and contact you? Therefore, it’s vital to have clear call-to-actions to turn your website visitors into inquiries or at least get them on your email list. Never assume a visitor knows which action to take next.
Document Your Business Processes
It is challenging to organize and systemize your brand if you do not know your business processes. The key to efficient systems is knowing precisely what you do in your business and the steps you take to do it. Too often, we keep our processes in our heads, resulting in inconsistency and lack of productivity. However, writing out each step in your process allows you to:
- Produce consistent results for a seamless client experience.
- Identify gaps so you can run your business more effectively.
- Find tasks you can automate to free up more of your time.
If you rely on memory alone, you are likely to forget a step or task, which leads to costly mistakes. Therefore, establishing a structure for your business is key. If you have yet to create your systems blueprint or standard operating procedures, here are five steps you can take now:
Step 1: Identify All of the Business Activities You Conduct
Start by conducting a brain dump of all of the activities you coordinate in your business. Typically, these are repeated tasks such as email newsletters, billing, social media, meetings and onboarding. As you think of additional tasks, add them to this list. After you complete your list, break these tasks into categories such as financial, marketing, sales and client management.
Step 2. Write Down Each Step You Take in Each Activity
Even if you think it is insignificant, write down the steps you take. Remember, the goal is to map out your business operations so that if you need to reassign a task or hire a team member, they can reproduce your steps. Writing your action steps also allows you to identify where you can improve current operations.
Step 3: Create Your Business Systems Blueprint
Once your processes are written out, organize your operations and procedures in a project management tool or document. When creating your blueprint, keep your operations in a central location to make them easily accessible. I organize similarly to a hierarchical flow chart starting with the category, the business activity and steps for that activity. But, keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to organize your business. Organize in a way that works for you.
Step 4: Determine What Activities Can Be Automated
The best part about building your business blueprint is discovering what can be automated to free up more of your time. Eliminating manual tasks not only reduces your workload, but you can feel confident knowing that the task will be completed instantly. Many tasks can be automated, such as social media, email marketing and recurring invoices and processing payments.
Step 5: Identify How to Improve Your Processes
You always want to ensure that your business blueprint is up-to-date. By regularly reviewing your processes, you establish consistency and ensure smoother operations. One suggestion is to keep your manual handy whenever you complete a task. That way, you can identify any missing steps you should add.
Upgrade Your Business Tools
An essential part of improving client conversion is implementing the best tools and platforms to meet your business’s needs. While there are great free tools you can get started with, once you start scaling your business, you’ll most likely need to upgrade your platforms. Remember, not having the right tools to sustain your business will lead to inefficiency. Therefore, you want to utilize tools that are compatible with your business operations. Platforms that offer apps are even better because you can run your business while you are on the go.
One tool that I cannot live without is HoneyBook. HoneyBook is a Client Relationship Management (CRM) platform for independent businesses that allow me to manage my client documents, payments, communication and onboarding processes all in one place. It is simple to use with premade templates that you can adapt for your business purposes. HoneyBook automates my onboarding process by sending my client a questionnaire right after they sign their contract. Additionally, it places my clients on a payment installment plan if needed. As a result, I no longer have to worry if a client is up-to-date with their payments.
Unlike other CRM systems, HoneyBook keeps everything about my client in a central dashboard. Another differentiating factor is the easy-to-use app that enables me to manage clients while on the go. HoneyBook even alerts me when a payment is received, which is like music to my ears (cha-ching!).
Using tools like HoneyBook gives me a sense of confidence that my systems will run smoothly. For your brand, you want to use tools that provide the same peace of mind, so you can focus on doing things you love in your business and personal life.
Hire an Assistant
As your responsibilities grow, you will have less time to coordinate administrative tasks. Manual tasks that cannot be automated, such as uploading videos to YouTube, monitoring incoming emails and looking for new business opportunities, can be draining and overwhelming. However, having an assistant can relieve some of these pressures allowing you to focus on other tasks in your business. If you have difficulty deciding what to delegate, think about the tasks you dislike, find frustrating or overwhelming and that take up the most of your time.
For most entrepreneurs, the hardest part is knowing when to let go and, most importantly, trusting who to hire to get the job done correctly. One way to minimize mistakes when building a team is to have your processes written down before you hire (remember what we talked about). That way, when your team members begin taking over those tasks, you can feel confident knowing that completed tasks will be consistent and done to your liking.
When you wear multiple hats in your business, it is easy to become overwhelmed. However, establishing systems that help you manage important business tasks is the best first step to building a profitable brand. Keep in mind, it’s an evolution, not an overnight process. Even small changes can make a significant difference in how you organize your business. It will take time to test and adapt what works best for your brand but with this blueprint, you are well on your way to establishing a business that runs on autopilot and gives you more flexibility with your time so you can do more of what you love.