5 Business Processes To Save You Time and Your Sanity
Process. Could there be a more ambiguously sinister word in the English language? In my mind, its cold, bland character is synonymous with records, files, and functional-speak about “cross-checking.” I can’t repeat such a phrase too many times in my head without lights out, goodnight world, I just went to sleep.
Running a business, however, demands a diligent attitude towards process. Are you documenting your deductible expenses? Great, where do you file the receipts? You’re onboarding a contractor? Super, what’s the first step? You’re starting work with a new client. Ok, how do you make the experience smooth and seamless?
When I started Socialista, we worked hard to serve our first few clients. We didn’t step back to look at the business as a whole and how we could systematize our way to more efficient, and effective, service. We also never set up a procedure for our financial records. A year and a half later, when our financial record keeping was organized, that initial disorganization would continue to cause problems, despite the best efforts of a bookkeeper and a CPA.
So if you’re starting a business--or any work for that matter--and ignoring setting up a system, heed my words Ebenezer Scrooge. Jacob Marley’s ghost, bearing the chains of past project mistakes, is here to offer a top five list of processes important to your business success.
#1. Plan your day. This is process gold. I learned from fellow "Socialista" Mia (organizational guru) that by scheduling time blocks for projects every morning, I can better control my time. A big stress reliever when you’re trying to juggle several projects at once. When you’re ending one day, take a few minutes to plan out the next.
#2. Create task lists. If you run a service business like we do, keeping all the details in mind is extremely important. Itemize how you do things as well as what needs to be done. Is the end goal to start advertising on Google? How do you get there? Map out the steps you need to set up the ad campaign and launch. What happens when you sign on a new client? Set up a detailed list for how you welcome the client so that you can start the relationship on the right foot and gather all the information you need.
#3. And speaking of timelines… It may go without saying, but creating a timeline of internal deadlines and client deliverables will help you stay on track. Communicating that timeline to your internal team and to the client sets expectations, provides clarity, and builds trust.
#4. Set up regular status meetings with your team and ask what everyone may need help with that week so you can anticipate what tasks you’ll be called on to do.
#5. Make room for the unexpected. You have your process - check! - but it’s only the beginning. Build in time and space dedicated to innovating.
Having processes in place doesn’t mean you don’t miss a few deadlines. During a tight turnaround on a recent project, I didn't allow for enough time for writing, reviewing, and editing an ad campaign. This caused frustration with my team and myself because no one was operating with the same schedule, or expectations, in mind. I learned the importance of setting up a project's parameters first, no matter how fast the client expects the work to be done.
Work through the pace, timing, and flow of your projects and you’ll be a better business for it. Put your dislike (or fear) aside, step into your process mindset, and get to work. Your new routines will help you accomplish more, and do it faster.