Should you systemise your business?

Putting systems and processes in place in your business can free up your time and help with business growth

As a business owner, I spend as much of my time on running the business – putting new systems in place, undertaking sales and marketing activities, carrying out admin tasks, making phone calls and replying to emails – as I do on copywriting.

And, like many business owners, I often veer between being highly organised – when I have a sensible workload – and being slightly chaotic when the workload is excessively high.

It’s a bit like having a split personality – the logical, ordered part of me loves having a system and the creative ‘let’s brainstorm ideas on a million bits of paper’ part of me is more inclined towards disorder. I think all business owners are somewhere on this spectrum, because there’s always an element of creativity involved in being an entrepreneur, even if you’re not in a sector generally known for being creative.

So why am I telling you this? You already know this, right?

Well, I’ve just been on a course called How to Systemise and Automate your Business. In all honesty, it was one of those courses where you come away feeling like you know even less than when you got there, because your eyes have been opened to the sheer volume of things you can do to improve the way your business works.

I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt, in the hope that you and your business might benefit. If you’re already running a streamlined, automated business machine then you have no need to continue reading, but if there’s an element of chaos at times, carry on…

Firstly, systemising and automating can save you time and money. If you can automate a task that currently takes two minutes per day, on every working day of the year, you can save 8 hours per year. That’s a full working day. Automate enough tasks and you can easily reclaim a week or more. And if you pay staff, there are even greater gains to be had.

Plus, if each member of staff is working with clients in a slightly different way, putting a written system in place will ensure consistency for your customers.

When you start to put systems in place, the recommended order of fixing things is:

1. Client fulfilment system (delivering the product or service)
2. Client conversion system (making a sale)
3. Lead generation system (creating a steady flow of interest)

The reason for this is that if you were to start with improving your lead generation system, and ended up bringing on board a lot more customers, you may find that you’re unable to fulfil all those extra orders without a decent client fulfilment system in place.

Systemising your business

When you’re mapping out your systems and processes, start by drawing out what would happen if the customer behaved how you wanted them to i.e. you didn’t have to follow up with them. Once you’ve mapped this, you can add in following up and reminders.

I don’t have a great need to automate every bit of my processes, but I am putting in place time-saving actions, such as using Zapier to move data from Capsule to MailChimp, and automating some of my emails.

I’ve also signed up to GoCardless, which means that ongoing client work can be paid for via direct debit, reducing the amount of admin involved in keeping track of invoices and payments. My regular invoices already go out automatically each month from QuickBooks.

Automating your email marketing campaigns will save you masses of time and also ensure that the emails actually get sent (sending emails out is something that a lot of people procrastinate over).

If you genuinely want to automate everything, so that emails automatically get sent at various ‘trigger points’ in a customer’s journey, then Infusionsoft is the ultimate tool. But if, like me, you’re not ready for the time (or cash) investment required to get something like Infusionsoft set up in your business, then there are alternatives.

It was suggested to me on the course that Active Campaign is an excellent Infusionsoft alternative, but after a little research I’ve decided to stick with Capsule and MailChimp. I may come to regret this, but I simply don’t want to make time to learn a new system right now.

I’m already fairly organised and proactive the majority of the time, but I can see that having a documented system in place at each stage in my customers’ journey is going to make things better for my clients and help me to free up more time for copywriting, which can only be a good thing.

What can you automate in your own business? How much time could you save?