When it comes to all things business, my personality is a rare combination. I thrive on both process and structure within creativity. Due to some of the larger projects I have taken on over the past few years, my business has lead to consulting and helping other creative entrepreneurs build their business. Whether it’s conversations about planning, branding, or launching something to the public, many struggle to make and stick to systems. I’ve found that many systems can be quickly adapted and modified to something that works for you, your life, and your business.
Over the past year of listening to entrepreneurs, here are 5 tips on how to create systems that work.
One of the biggest hangups in business is not knowing the best ways we work, process information, or derive creative energy. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself:
When it comes to major project launches, overhauls, or client projects, break things down into something that is scaleable and manageable. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will any good business. Look at what you need to do. Break out a pen and paper. List it out and break it down. Know what your capacity is and what is manageable for you. For month long projects, I break down pre-production deadlines week by week. This allows for a bit more flexibility throughout my days allowing for things to have breathing room. However, I do know what I need to get accomplished throughout the week and get to it. If you’re offering services and have income goals for your year, look at your pricing structure and how much work you need to do to get there. For example, if you want to increase your sales by $20,000 for the year, divide that amount by 4. This means you need to increase your sales by $5,000 each quarter. This is a manageable $1600 per month, around $400 a week. Base your hourly rate and pricing structure accordingly.
Have an email list to develop that you’ve been putting off? Are you terrible at keeping a house and a healthy lifestyle? Do you have sheer panic when it comes to tax season? Develop systems for the things that slow you down and are pain points. In our house, this is really practical. We love things to be clean, but really hate spending days off doing chores. We take one morning to get everything done. Here’s how it works for us. We start with laundry. While we are doing our first load of wash, we put anything in the dryer that might need dry cleaning. As things are in the wash, we clean out the fridge, make a grocery list, and do a quick clean of the house. We switch laundry, put in our second load, and head to the store to put up anything we might need for the week. In around 3 hours, we complete everything we need to do (including 3 loads of laundry and a load of dry cleaning) for the week and it’s ready to have anyone over. We do the same thing for our bookkeeping. When our credit card bill comes in, we transpose expenses to excel. We try to do it once a month, but if we get a bit behind, we do it once a quarter. Taking things in smaller pieces, relieves pressure, and keeps overwhelm at bay.
There are weeks where we don’t want to stick to our systems. We see friends who work a part-time schedule and it’s easy to be envious, want to bail, hit the lake, and embrace the carefree side of life. Dreams and going after a career are far from easy. It takes crazy amounts of time to get where you want to be, but in the long run we’re thankful and so grateful for what can happen when we choose to follow our systems.
As an entrepreneur you got started for a reason. You had an idea, a plan, and something that excited. You probably got into business for yourself for a good reason. You love the idea of working from your yoga pants in bed, the flexibility in hours, or the idea of building your own vision. The purpose of systems is to serve the greater good of your business. It allows for freedom, growth, and abundance to occur. Systems allow you to tweak things, make improvements, and with a bit of discipline provide creative freedom unlike ever before.
How are you doing at developing system? Is this a pain point in your business? What tasks do you need a system and a workflow for?