When you are in business for yourself, you can never have too much time management and organization. One of the most important things to have are systems in place. Many successful entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way have instilled in me the power of having certain procedures down.
The best analogy I use for my clients is what I learned from Michael Gerber’s book, The E-MYTH Re-visited.
He talks about businesses that run like well-oiled machines because of systems that are in place. McDonald's is one of the best examples he offers. At McDonald's there’s a pretty slim chance that the owner will be there when you show up to buy your Big Mac and fries. You see managers, you see cashiers, but where is the owner? Even though he or she might not be there, I can bet you the owner is confident that his or her team is doing everything that needs to be done, because of the systems that McDonald’s has in place. They have their manuals, training (Hamburger University to be exact…that’s really the name of it). Their team knows that every Sunday at 8am, there is a team meeting. They know procedures for dealing with difficult customers, know what steps to take in order to start and end the day, and also know that the bathrooms should be cleaned throughout the day, (okay, maybe not all McDonald's, LOL) Well, you get the idea. They have many of their procedures down pat!
If you think about it, pretty much any franchise is really a great example to look at when thinking of having tight systems in place for your business to run…with or without you. However, one might think, "Heck, I’m no McDonald's. I just make homemade soaps, or I just manage a Hip-hop artist, or I’m just an Executive assistant." You might skim through this article and think, "It’s really not a big deal. I don’t need all of that hassle."
And to you my friend, I have this to share….
You can save a tremendous amount of time if you build your business better, work faster and smarter, but most importantly, be able to take time off and relax, when you do have your system running like a McDonald's restaurant!
Here are 7 SYSTEMS to get you started:
1. Create your own focus days. Create specific days that you focus on various areas of your business and life, i.e. this comes in handy if you have a full-time job and a side business or two businesses. You’ll be able to set aside chunks of time; pay attention to that particular thing and only that thing. This means, when you are doing a sales call, that’s all you are doing. If you are writing bills and filing on Monday, you won’t set up meetings with clients on that day. As for a personal focus day, you can use this example: Sunday is family day where you don’t check email, you don’t call clients, you focus on the ones who should count first.
Take a look at these articles that break it down even further! And start to design your own focus days and see your schedule begin to feel a bit better. [http://www.cob.fsu.edu/jmi/articles/focus_days.asp]
The key is NOT TO OVER SCHEDULE. BE REALISTIC. You might try to pack too many things in your day and then beat yourself because you didn’t accomplish them. Put it on the list and get it done that day! The Art of Getting Things Done is a great to check out. I love this book! It helps you with just your DAILY DRAMA of dealing with your IN BOX!
2. Create a company manual or how-to guides. This can include your mission statement, company history, product or service overview, employee policies, job descriptions, customer service tips, company goals, reward program for employees, etc… Anyone should be able to read them with ease and duplicate the steps in them.
3. Have templates of documents and contracts you use on a regular basis. Some examples you should have: marketing intro letter, follow up letter (i.e. send every three to six months, depending on your business), monthly newsletter, invoices, thank you letter (and make sure you buy thank you cards as well), employee contracts, commission-based contracts, referral contracts, consignment contracts, etc.
Also take a look at Legal Zoom for some samples of contracts: http://www.legalzoom.com/legalzip/businessservices/index.html
4. Get that professional voicemail and fax system set up. For those of you with the sexy music or real laid back voicemail, "Whasssuuuuup!" (Wow, remember those commercials?) this tip is for you. Okay, I’m exaggerating here; but in any event, you might want to give up a professional number or voicemail, instead of your personal phone number to a potential client. Hey, image is everything! If you work from home or don’t have a business line as yet, try http://www.ureach.com. They have affordable toll free and fax deals. Think of a friend or family member with a great voice and have them do the message for you.
5. Create a filing system on your computer and off! Organize your filing cabinets so that important files are easy to find. It’s easy if you mirror the same set up in your physical files with the files on your computer, i.e.: Create a client's MAIN FOLDER and then a folder for each client. Take out inactive clients and create an INACTIVE folder.
I was once told by my computer technician, Andrew Grant, to think of my desktop on my computer as a real desk. Wow, changed my way of thinking! Don’t have a zillion documents on the desktop and you can’t find them. When you are done working on them, file them back in their proper 'virtual' folders. Just like you would a desk.
6. Start building a database. It should include a list of clients and business partners. You can do it in excel or your business files in your PDA.
7. Communicate with Your Team Often: Schedule a regular weekly and/or monthly meeting. Try to make it the same time and day so that it becomes a habit and everyone has it in his or her schedules.
Don’t have time to do it face to face? No problemo… I use http://www.freeconference.com with my team. It makes it easy for people who are not in the same city and you can have a large number of people on the call when needed. Notice the key word…FREE! What works for Gots To Have It is a weekly Manager’s meeting where managers discuss developments in their departments, then once a month the entire team is on the call and we go over company updates, exciting news, ideas, feedback, employee of the month winner, etc.
The better the communication with your team, the higher your business will soar!