There's a lot of marketing floof pitching the idea of autopilot entrepreneurship. But putting your biz on "set it and forget it" mode sounds more like a pipe dream than a scaling strategy—and for good reason. It's not possible.
As a service provider, you have to do the physical act of providing the service. But as you very well know, being your own boss comes with a whole host of other responsibilities that don't directly relate to trading your time for money. The more those unpaid tasks pile up on your plate, the less time you have to grow your client list, create new offers, and hone in the skills that are actually bringing home the bacon.
Not to fear, though. You don't have to work through every single business function on your own. You can—and should—systemize as much of your business as possible, so you free up time to work on your business instead of in it.
What is systemizing?
At its core, systemizing means creating a standard process for a specific task to virtually eliminate all decision-making, guesswork, and wasted time. This could involve:
- Hiring a team of contractors or employees to do the work for you
- Using software to automate or streamline certain processes
- Detailing specific instructions (or recording how-to videos) so anyone can complete the task
The key is to make sure the system is repeatable and scalable. In other words, once you have it in place, it should theoretically be able to run without you (or with as little input from you as possible) and support your desired growth.
Areas For Systemization
Not sure where to start? The five areas below tend to be the most time-consuming for service-based business owners and are, therefore, ripe for systemizing.
1. Your Finances
From bookkeeping and invoicing to budgeting and tax preparation, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to keeping your finances in check. If you're not careful, it's easy for things to start slipping through the cracks—and that can put your business in serious jeopardy.
The best way to avoid this is to set up a system for managing your finances from the very beginning. This could involve:
- Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant to do the heavy lifting
- Signing up for accounting software
- Establishing specific protocols for how and when invoices should go out (e.g., once a week on Fridays)
2. Your Marketing
Generating leads and acquiring new customers is how you grow your business. But if you're not intentional about your marketing efforts, it's easy to get stuck in a rut, pumping out the same old content week after week without seeing any real results.
A solid marketing system will help you avoid that by:
- Creating a content calendar to map out what you'll publish and when
- Planning and batching your social media content in advance
- Using automation tools to streamline the lead capture process
3. Your Client Process
Your client process is the series of steps you take with a prospective client from start to finish. This could involve anything from your initial contact with them (e.g., if they reach out to you through social media or your website) to how you deliver the final product or service.
A well-oiled client process makes it easy for you to nurture your leads, close more sales, and deliver a great experience that will keep your clients coming back for more. To systemize your client process, you might:
- Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Set up templates for your initial contact (e.g., an email or Skype call script)
- Create a project management system for tracking deadlines and deliverables
Systemizing your business takes time and a willingness to experiment. Start with just one small (but time-sucking) task, and build from there. Soon enough, you'll have systems in place for just about everything—and your business will be better for it.