I have seen businesses both flourish and falter over multiple decades and multiple continents. Anecdotal differentiators are decluttering your business and having systems as foundations. These save time – and enable automation as your business grows.
And importantly, they also ensure a consistent experience for partners and clients – across time and location.
Below are 3 critical steps you would need to consider in order to de-clutter your business.
1. Consider what’s Important to you as a Business
While it’s tempting to jump right into the task of organising and streamlining, it’s important to connect with your business vision: What’s important to you as a business? Customer service? High touch (i.e. personalised support)? Speed? Efficiency? What does streamlining mean for you?
2. Consider your Own Preferences
Next, think about yourself. What are your style preferences? Are you a minimalist, stored as much digitally as possible, or do you like to have everything on paper? Are you a visual person and like to see reminders, or are you auditory and would benefit from sound reminders?
Your business values as well as your own style preferences will influence how you systematise and automate in your business.
3. Carve out Time to Get Things in Order
While it’s “nice” to think about what you might do, carving out time to get things done is key to business success. At this time of the year (or as seasons change!), it can be useful to carve out time (think 15-minute blocks) to review and or clean up.
Now Consider these 4 Areas of your Business:
AREA 1: Financial
Revenue – What has been generating income for you? What has not? What do you notice about cash flow? What attention do you want to put on these elements?
Invoicing – Has everything been invoiced as it should? What invoices are still open and need to be paid? Are there any outstanding invoices required?
Expenses – What are the fixed expenses you have in your business? Are these aligned with what you have budgeted? Is there anything you need to change or scale back on? What have been your main expenses to date? Is there anything you’re paying for that you’re not using? Does anything need renewal? What changes could be made to your expenses?
AREA 2: Administrative
Think FARP: File it, Action it, Read it or Plurge it
Paper Files – Are your paper files in order and secure? Does anything need to be reviewed? Is everything stored and secured as you would like? If paper has started piling up you must tackle it.
Electronic Files – Have you backed up lately? What needs rearranging? Do passwords need changing? Is there file duplication? What files could use a clean-up? Are there any files you’re using regularly e.g. presentations, client welcomes, which could be made into a template for easy re-use? Are you up-to-date with Cyber security needs; GDPR requirements?
AREA 3: Marketing
Marketing – In marketing, think about how you are creating outreach and continuing the conversation about what you do and offer. What’s working for you in marketing? What might need to be reduced in terms of time spent? What should receive more focus and time? Would it help to blend social media and traditional approaches (speaking, writing, trade shows, networking) etc?
Program Descriptions and Brochures – Are these up to date? Do you have one copy filed away? What feedback have you received from group members about what’s attracted them to programs? Are all the links on your website active? What additional questions are surfacing which you might want to provide answers around?
AREA 4: Systems and Automation
Another key component of decluttering your business is in systematising and automating parts of your business. A system is simply an organised, repeatable way to get things done. And especially when working remotely, systems are a critical part of scaling your business.
Systems allow us to automate, and cut down on the repetitive tasks that can become “all consuming”. Think about the last week – how much time did you spend on tasks which could be automated?
There are a number of areas we may develop business systems around, including:
Goals and results – Planning systems and tracking systems abound. How do you keep focused, and measure progress around key goals? How can you share key results and successes with others on your team?
Communication – Communication systems with your clients and prospects. Also think about meeting areas (Zoom, WebEx, Skype), Chat (Slack etc), Instant Messaging.
Project tools – i.e. status updates, project requirements. Other project tools like Asana, MindMapping, or Basecamp can help with project sharing
Contact systems – While it might seem ‘old school’ to have a directory of key people you communicate with, it’s often only when new team members join us do we realize how invisible our networks have become. Who are the people you or others on your team will need to reach out to regularly? What are your scheduled points of contact this year? Is it time for some new systems to automate or freshen up what you have (think newsletters, blogs etc).
Administrative systems – Whether it’s key letters or reports which need to be submitted or financial and budget systems, consider what are the administrative systems will work best for you.
Wrap-up and Getting into Action
As you go through this list it is likely that a long “laundry list” of items may emerge. Consider creating a new “To Do” task list in your journal or planning system. Then consider, do you need to complete every task or are there some tasks which could be delegated? What are the relative priorities of these tasks? Which are your top 3?
Systematising, streamlining and decluttering can take some time, and it might take a number of tries to find the systems best suited for you. Tackling this in regular bursts – 15 minutes – can quickly clear away the piles, and make decluttering more manageable.
When you work for yourself, you don’t have the inbuilt systems and processes that are automatically in place when you work for a larger employer. Your financial data, filing, templates, marketing and sales processes – all need systems to be set up and managed by you.
I hope this helps your business. For a 1-1 business coaching session, book an appointment here. Note: First discovery session is free.