Even as a small business owner and solopreneur it is critical to document your processes. In this post, I will show you why it’s important to nail your processes and show you how to do it.
What is a process?
Noun: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
The advantages of documenting your processes
By mapping out your workflows and breaking them up into actionable steps you eliminate having to think about what to do every time you complete a particular activity. This will maximise your effort because you will be doing tasks in the right order, at the right time and not forget to do any.
Highlights inefficiencies or lost income
By writing out all your processes you can look for opportunities to systemise & automate, which will save you time and money. It also allows you to spot any duplications of work effort. In turn, the quality of your work will go up, because certain tasks will become quicker to do & you will be more efficient in doing them.
Prepares for outsourcing
If you have many repeatable tasks that are not revenue-generating or have to be done by you, they could be outsourced.
By recording the exact steps for each of these activities in advance and creating easy-to-follow systems and workflows when the time comes to outsource them to a Virtual Assistant, it will make the onboarding process quicker and smoother. You will not need to spend so much time teaching or showing someone what to do because you already have what you need them to do documented.
Protection in a worst-case scenario
Of course, we all hope that a worst-case scenario will never occur. However, if you were in a position where you urgently needed some external business help and didn’t have the time to show someone what to do, by having your processes nailed and recorded it would be much easier for someone else to immediately start working.
How to document your processes
Step 1 – Brainstorm
Take a piece of paper and write down all the regular activities you need to do – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Think of everything you do repetitively including scrolling through social media, searching for certain links or information, paying bills, participation in courses or memberships. Everything!
Step 2 – Break it down & flesh it out
Then think about every separate task you need to do to complete an individual activity and add it into your online management software. Order the tasks to create a workflow. Add links to templates or other information that you need to complete the task. Think of turning your processes into checklists and creating workflows as the method to get stuff done.
If you complete more specialised or complicated tasks, create videos of you performing the task using Loom which records your screen and voice at the same time. Then add a link to the video into your online management software.
Step 3 – Add timings
We regularly underestimate how long something takes us to do. And this is often the cause of an incompleted to-do list. Write down how long it takes to complete each process and each separate task, as well as when it needs to be done.
If you don’t actually know how long something takes you to do, use software such as Toggl to track your time. By tracking your time it will also give you an indication of where too much of your time is spent which highlights opportunities for outsourcing.
Step 4 – Refine
With a critical eye continue to review and refine your processes. Ultimately you want to save time, work more efficiently and make more money. Continue to look for ways to streamline, automate and outsource certain tasks. If you need some ideas about the types of tasks you can automate using online tools, download my list here.
Examples of processes you need to document
– How do you record or respond to new leads? For example, when someone makes a comment on a social media post, do you encourage them to join your mailing list, join your Facebook group, follow them back and schedule a time to engage with them more regularly?
– When someone makes a new enquiry, do you set up a discovery call, when and how often do you follow up with them?
– What’s your process when you start working with a new client? How do you communicate with them, what documents do you send to them to sign or what information do you need from them and how do you obtain that information? Do you need to set up recurring calls or payments with them? Are there parts of the onboarding process you can streamline or automate?
- Do you find yourself answering the same questions via email to new clients? Create a FAQ page on your website to answer those questions which you can quickly direct clients to.
- Do you find yourself having to email clients a few times as part of the onboarding process? Create an onboarding online form that asks for ALL the information you need in advance.
– What marketing content do you need to create, how do you create it, when do you write it, when do you schedule it? Do you use a tool to schedule content? Do you have a checklist for each new marketing email you send or blog post?
You do need to spend some time in advance to get all your processes documented but in the long-term, this is going to make you and your business more productive, strategic, organised. By setting yourself with the right workflows and systems you are allowing your business to grow.
If you need some help breaking down and recording your processes or setting up Trello or Asana, do get in touch with me as I can help you with that.