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Self-Auditing Your Systems & Processes for Sustainability

If you want to establish a sustainable foundation for your business, you’ll need to check in on your systems and processes regularly.

When you start a business, you have the time to ensure everything falls into place. But as your company grows and you attract more customers, it’s easy to let parts of your business fall into disrepair. Suddenly, the processes that supported five clients no longer work to serve 20. Or perhaps your financial systems aren’t sustainable as you reach and exceed six figures in revenue.

In other words, your business structure isn’t a matter of setting and forgetting. Instead, it requires regular maintenance to build a resilient company that is here to stay.

If you can’t remember the last time you worked on your business, you’re long overdue for an operational tune-up. To get started, follow these tips for self-auditing your systems and processes to start seeing increased efficiency and faster growth.

Think bigger than business

Before diving into the technicals, such as your sales workflow or marketing plan, take a moment to look inward and reflect on how you’re feeling about your business.

“Ask yourself: Are you happy?” encourages Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “I don’t think we stop long enough to ask ourselves if we are happy in our businesses or where the business is going.”

If your answer isn’t an enthusiastic “yes,” consider “what isn’t making you happy versus what is,” Sulak says. “Detail out a quick list of things on your mind, and then let yourself get into the flow state to figure out a solid plan after the brainstorming.”

Starting with your happiness is an essential first step in a self-audit. After all, fixing outdated systems and updating processes won’t solve the bigger problem if you don’t enjoy what you do.

Track your time

Next, you’ll want to consider how you spend your time. If you feel unmotivated to start your workday, it’s often due to the misallocation of time to unfulfilling tasks. When you’re spending too much time on mundane to-dos, you aren’t able to invest as much energy into high-impact work that actually moves the needle.

“When you are aware of how long it takes you to do something, it helps you to plan better,” assures Alicia Igess Jones, business owner and hair stylist. “If something isn’t working, it’s better to self-assess or audit the situation in order to be more efficient and effective.”

Instead, for the next week, “Track how much time you spend on every task—from sending emails to following up with past-due invoices to posting on social media,” suggests Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “These are all tedious tasks, but very important that they are done and done well.”

There are many crucial responsibilities in a business, but that doesn’t mean they all need to fall on your plate. Instead, adopt new practices that allow you to lessen the burden, like delegating tasks to your team or leveraging automation to take over the busy work.

Review your website

While it’s wise to audit marketing channels like social media, digital ads, and emails, don’t forget the most important piece of your online presence: your website.

“Your website is your most important marketing tool and is a huge part of your inquiry funnel,” confirms Adrienna McDermott of Ava and the Bee. “This should be looked at every six months and updated with new galleries every four months.”

All roads lead to your website, so don’t let it fall into a state of decay. But beyond marketing, McDermott adds a reminder that “SEO optimization is essential.”

“You need keywords throughout, meta titles and descriptions, alt text, and a well-laid-out website to convert traffic to leads,” she notes. “One of the biggest mistakes I see [event] professionals make is having too many images that are not compressed and take too long to load. A slow-loading website will not rank as well as a fast one!”

Take advantage of free tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Moz Keyword Explorer to confirm your website is in good shape. If not, consult with your web developer to identify opportunities for improvement.

Create a plan to implement

What’s an audit without a plan? There’s no point in spending valuable time identifying growth opportunities in your business if you don’t intend to pursue them.

Follow the advice of Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events Design and Planning: “Take the time to review the results of the audit and create a plan of action to address any issues that have been identified. Once any issues or potential problems have been identified, take the necessary steps to address them.”

But before you turn that laundry list of to-dos into a persistent case of burnout, ensure your implementation plan is realistic and doable.

“Avoid overwhelming yourself by focusing on the areas that require immediate attention,” Sheils cautions. “You don’t need to overhaul all your processes overnight. Instead, develop a timeline and take it one step at a time.”

Start with the updates that will have the most impact, whether giving much-needed attention to your software or adjusting existing workflows to fit your team’s needs.

Schedule regular self-audits

When all is said and done, give yourself kudos for taking the time to address your business’s weaknesses. But if you want to establish a sustainable foundation for your business, you’ll need to check in on your systems and processes regularly.

“Self-audits should be done quarterly for your business,” notes Corina Beczner of Vibrant Events. “If you want to audit your events and report to your clients the success, you should do that as part of your post-event follow-up.”

Get in the habit of constant evaluation, looking for better solutions and new ideas around every corner. When you operate with a growth mindset, progress will come naturally.

And perhaps most importantly, “Don’t be afraid of changes,” Sulak adds. “Some of the best ideas and dreams come from examination, brainstorming, and the hard work behind the scenes to give you peace of mind as you walk-out your path!”

Self-reflection is an integral part of growing a sustainable business. So, if you’re hoping to create a legacy that lasts a lifetime, get comfortable asking the hard questions and always take the chance to improve!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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