There are so many things we are responsible for once we are in business, especially if we are a solo-preneur or a small company where everyone has more than one job responsibility. Coming up with new ideas, writing new proposals, creating new documents, and developing new language for your marketing and operations is time consuming and it can also be very difficult for some people to easily do. It can cost you a lot of time, stress, and even money if you have to pay someone to do it each time.
To make your life easier start building your business around the things you have already done. Here are my 3 favourite time-savers.
If you have already made a sale, ordered supplies, done a follow-up call, responded to customer inquiry or issue, or outsourced work, you have performed work in your business that will be repeated over-and-over. For any task in your business that you have to do more than once you should create a process. It does not have to be fancy, a simple list is fine.
- Record the steps of a process as you do it.
- Create an opening description that tells the reader when the appropriate time to use this procedure would be.
- Give the file a name that you will be able to remember (e.g. ClientFollowup.doc)
When you have systems in place it:
- Makes it easier to be consistent with your business brand and process
- Helps you to remember what you did, so you can make systems better
- Creates a process you can re-assign this to someone else as you grow
I am very savvy with Word Processor applications, but you don’t need to be to create simple, functional templates. I recommend you have at least one basic template created in MS Word (or whatever Word Processing software you use). This template should have your logo on the top, your contact information and tagline on the bottom and you may opt to put a page number in the header or footer as well. You can get someone to help you create this, and once it is set up you can use it for every new document you create. The key will be to remember to not overwrite the original template.
The second template you should have is your email signature. Make it match your branding, insert your logo and use your colours for that as well.
There are two really helpful things you can do to make a template even more functional. First is to create styles that match your branding. This way every document you create will have the same headings, indents, spacing, and colours and you won’t have to fool around with the formats as you write. Second is to save the template as a Word .dot file. This way you will never worry about overwriting your source template.
The biggest benefit of creating templates is the consistency in your branding. Every document will look like it comes from you. You will also save time setting up your documents every time you need to create something new. If you are savvy enough to implement some of the advance suggestions, you will save even more time creating and maintaining your documents.
Have you ever written great marketing copy and then you cannot remember where you put it? Having a good naming system for you folders and files will help you find your past content quickly. I often write great marketing copy in emails or in a description for a posting. I know that if I have to create that content again I will get something different and it might not be as powerful, so I will create a file, give it a name that fits my naming standards and put it in a folder that is specifically for that type of information.
Recently I was speaking with someone on the phone and described my mastermind and coaching programs in a way that was really compelling to the potential client. When I got off the phone I created a file with the information, called it “MMProgramDescription.doc” and saved it to the directory “BLITZ/MarketingCopy”. I have more than one company so I do not want to search through marketing copy for my other company to find this information.
There is of course many different ways to set this up and maintain it. You can get an expert, like a professional organizer to help you with this.
Being able to find what you created will not only save you time, it will allow you to easily reuse and re-purpose your great marketing copy (or other document information) for new uses which can reduce your stress when something has to go out “Right Now!”
Over the years you will create thousands of words (if not hundreds-of-thousands), concepts, descriptions, processes, etc. If you cannot find them then you will end up having to recreate them. You will never have consistency in your brand or your operations. Clients, contractors, partners, and employees will not know what to expect from you when the instructions are never the same and the look is unprofessional and unpredictable. Michael E. Gerber in his book The E-Myth Mastery goes into great description of how to define and set your systems to create an exceptional business. I often recommend to my clients to read this book.
Consistency of systems is the sign of a great entrepreneur. Start with these three time-savers to get lots of other benefits for your business.