The most limited asset any small business owner has is time. The only way to free up more of your time is to create systems for managing the various parts of your business. This allows you to focus more of your time on what’s most important: doing what you love and generating revenue.
In collaboration with Staples and Make Mentors, we have pulled together a list of effective systems you can set up today. These are all simple changes you can make to your business that will leave you with more time and more income.
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.
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 answer 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.
Social media is a time consuming process when you don’t have a great system in place. 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 where you can share content and automatically schedule the distribution to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus. 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.
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. Design Aglow has tons of templates to help you manage your clients. Purchasing a template can literally save you hours, so you can spend even more time growing your business.
Do your clients email you lots of 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 could include all the common questions clients ask you, plus tutorials and/or videos.
Technical issues can bring your photography business to a screeching hault. Even small technical problems can take hours of frustration to fix, and most people don’t think about these issues until they have them, especially when it’s too late. A smart solution to this problem is to set up a monthly subscription with Staples technical support so you can have instant access to technical support any time you need it.
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 take eat up your time if you don’t have an efficient system for managing these processes.
Tools like Harvest allow you to track your time, manage invoices and remind clients when it’s time to pay, and costs less than $12/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.
These are just a few ways you can boost your business’ productivity through implementing systems. With the help of Staples and Maker Mentors, 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. By following these resources, such as making a quick trip to Staples, you’ll be able to create a happier home office and a productive business.
Want to kick-start your business systems today? Share your best business tip in the comments below for your chance to win a $50 Staples gift card!
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.