The most limited asset for any creative business owner, whether big or small, is time.
When it comes to running a company, the only way to free up more of your time is to implement systems for managing the various parts of your business. This allows you to focus more of your energy on what’s most important: doing what you love (which might include catching up on those midday naps you’ve been fantasizing about...don’t worry, we won’t judge).
We understand how challenging the ever-present work/life balance is, so we’ve compiled a useful list of effective systems you can set up, like now. These are all simple changes you can make to your business that will leave you with more time (and more income). We want you to enjoy that lazy Friday evening with the family, too!
1. Organize Your Files.
With any creative business, the #1 key to your work/life balance is organization. Save time searching for important documents by creating a system for labeling and organizing your files. Set up a Dropbox account and organize your important files into clearly labeled folders. Next, create a master document outlining how you label and organize your files. This will make it incredibly easy for you to share documents with clients and employees.
Dropbox allows you store up to 2GB of files in the cloud for zero cost, while you can earn another 16GB of free storage by inviting others to sign up. This tool sits neatly on your desktop and keeps your files in sync across your devices, saving time when emailing documents back and forth.
2. Manage Customer Service
You probably spend quite a bit of time answering the same questions from customers or clients over and over again. Create an FAQ page on your website where you tackle common questions. You can also design a private FAQ page to share with employees.
If they haven't found an answer on the FAQ page, set up a support system for managing questions. Especially if you sell products or manage a large portfolio of clients, using a support system like Zen Desk is a great option for organizing inquiries.
Lastly, you can create canned email scripts in Gmail. This will save you from having to write the same message to your clients all the time. #yahoo!
3. Update Social Media
Social media is a time consuming process when you don’t have a great system in place (trust us, we know). Gone are the days when you have to create each Facebook post and tweet just seconds before you publish it. Today, you can schedule your updates and create systems for managing your various channels. Develop a social sharing strategy that determine how often you’ll promote content each week, and create an editorial calendar that outlines when you’ll craft content.
Buffer is a very effective social media management tool that allows you to schedule content to automatically distribute to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus (Instagram can be pre-scheduled, but you still need to post it manually via your mobile device). You can also use the IFTTT app to create systems for managing your social media updates. This tool allows you to create ‘recipes’ that automate your social media workflows. For example, whenever you publish a new blog post, IFTTT will be ready to automatically share it via Twitter and Facebook. This way, you can build audience and engage your customers all week without thinking twice about it.
4. Onboard New Clients
Stop spending all of your time answering the same questions, designing business templates from scratch, and creating a new process for each new client.
Instead, implement a system for managing clients. Review how you have worked with clients in the past and break your process down into steps. This will become your system for managing new clients. Polished by Design has tons of designs to help you manage your clients in every aspect of your business. Our software can honestly save you hours, so you can spend even more time growing your business.
Do your clients bombard you with emails and questions after you've finished working with them? Although you're happy to help them, this process probably takes up a lot of time. To stop receiving so many questions, create a client area on your website. Your client area can include all the common questions clients ask you, plus tutorials and/or videos.
5. Create a Workflow
There are some parts of running a business that takes tons of time and never go away. For example, handling invoices and managing meetings can turn into an endless time-suck if you don’t have an efficient system for managing these processes.
Tools like Harvest or Honeybook allow you to track your time, manage invoices and remind clients when it’s time to pay --- and cost less than $25/month. Apps like Calendly allow you to seamlessly manage your calendar. Clients can can book a meeting through the the app, and they'll receive confirmations and reminders without you lifting a finger.
Or if you’re the visual type, like us, a custom Workflow Board may be the answer to your organizational prayers.
These are just a few ways you can boost your business’ productivity through implementing systems and we hope you find these tools as a valuable business resource. Remember, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create a productive workspace. We believe in you!