Many entrepreneurs reach a point in their businesses where something doesn’t feel right. Yet, on paper, everything looks fine: profit margins are strong, deadlines are met, clients are happy so, what’s wrong?
If all the other boxes are checked but you’re still feeling burnt out and unmotivated, it’s a good sign that your systems and workflows need some love and attention. When was the last time you gave your internal operations a good maintenance check?
If your answer is somewhere between “It’s been a while” and “I’m supposed to do what now?” rest assured you’re not alone. It’s a common hurdle for creative entrepreneurs who are inclined to put their own businesses on the back burner so they can serve their clients.
Yet, the reality is that taking care of your business is taking care of your clients. When your workflows are in order, and your backend is organized, you feel better and more inspired—which means your clients get the best version of you.
Ready to fix the gaps and reclaim control of your business?
It all starts with an in-depth operational audit.
This is when you get to put it all on paper—from the emails you regularly send to your process for posting to social media. Write down everything you do in your business. It helps to start with broader categories, like Sales, Marketing, Client Experience, Product Design, or Accounting. Put down whatever makes sense for your business model.
Then, break each of those buckets into the actions you take for each. For example, your Sales category might include responding to inquiries, scheduling consultation meetings, sending a sales brochure, creating a proposal, and so on. Each of those actions are part of your workflow, but they are also tasks in their own regard.
Now, take those tasks and break them down one more time to layout your procedure for each. For example, responding to an inquiry might mean taking down a lead’s information, adding it to your CRM, copying an email template, pasting it in the email, attaching a sales brochure, hitting send, and setting a reminder on your calendar to follow-up after a few days.
When you get to this granular level, you’ll realize how much you are manually doing in your business. It’s no wonder you’re burning out! Every little step might take no more than a minute, but those minutes add up—and, time aside, you are still spending mental energy that could be dedicated to more fulfilling and profitable activities.
So, that probably leaves you with the biggest question: How do I fix it!?
The easy answer is to take all of the minutiae off your plate! It’s all vital to your business, but that doesn’t mean you need to get your hands dirty time and time again. There are two main solutions you can pursue, and you might find that a combination of both is the right answer.
The first solution is to automate as much as possible.
Automation is all about doing more so you can do less. There are countless software options on the market to build automation into your business. For example, you might find that you don’t need anything more than a robust customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Honeybook or Dubsado. These are built for streamlining the client experience and include automated features for interactions like sending proposals or following up on a late payment.
If you want to take it up a notch, check out dedicated automation software like Zapier or Automate.io. Both allow you to integrate all of the apps in your business’ digital environment so you can tie them all together in a seamless workflow. Once you start automating your operations, you’ll always be on the lookout for inefficiencies that can be solved with technology!
For the tasks that can’t be automated, your other solution is to delegate.
Hiring is a scary step for solopreneurs, but it can be just as overwhelming for business owners that already have a team. No matter what your business looks like, though, taking on more helping hands can make all the difference in your business and your life.
Consider the areas from your operational audit that you’d love to stop doing but isn’t quite right for an automated solution. Perhaps there isn’t a way to automate it yet, or maybe you don’t want to risk losing the authentic touch of a human. This is where another person comes in handy!
You might find that outsourcing your blog content to a contractor is well worth the cost. Or, perhaps you just need a virtual assistant to respond to emails, schedule social media posts, and plugin copy to your email blasts. On the other hand, maybe you love doing all of that work and would rather hire an associate to split the client workload or take over your sales calls. It’s up to you!
No matter which direction is calling you, remember that you are a business owner. You have complete control and power over what you do and don’t do! Nobody runs a business like you do, which is what sets your brand apart from others. When you start to take care of your operations and create a backend that works for you, you’ll restore your creativity, passion, and motivation.