The more efficient + effective your workflow = better at job & more life.
Let’s face it. Creative business owners rarely take time to work on their business, because they are always working in their businesses. But, today we are encouraging you to put a stop to all that!! We are teaching you 6 easy steps to streamline your workflow! Whether your work involves onboarding new customers, checking vendor shipments, planning events, editing pictures or doing quality checks, going about your daily job is really about following one or several processes. The more efficiently and effectively you do these processes allows you to do your jobs better–and hopefully gain more life back to truly live + enjoy!
STEP 1: TAKE A BUSINESS WORKFLOW INVENTORY
It may sound strange, but you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t document or define their work processes–even their most important ones.
So the very first step is to list all of the processes or workflows that your business follows to do your daily work. Keep the list simple. List each process, write down what you believe the purpose of that process is and then list all of the people within your organization involved with this process. (Hold off on listing all the steps in the process for now!)
RINGLET TIP: Even if you are a one woman show - you still want to name the people responsible for each step of the process because when you grow and expand and hire that first employee you already have her in your workflow!
The goal here is to be as thorough and exhaustive as you can. Even if it seems like a simple or routine process, like managing work projects or ordering lunches for the crew on Fridays, if it takes someone’s time and effort on a regular basis to do it, it’s a process. Write it down.
STEP 2: RANK YOUR PROCESSES
Did your list surprise you? Most people are surprised at just how many processes they actually have to follow on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to do their work.
With your list in hand, stack rank each business workflow you’ve written down from most important to least important. This is not easy, as most processes seem super important. Why else would you do them? Moreover, many processes are often inter-related or dependent. You can’t do one without the other. As difficult as it is, we recommend doing your best to stack rank your processes for no other reason than to help decide which process to streamline first, second, third and so on. For example, new client inquiry process may be at the top of your list to streamline since that is your main revenue stream and then next could be on-boarding those new clients, etc.!
STEP 3: BREAK DOWN THE PROCESS
The next step is to break down one of your processes into discrete steps—the more granular the better. For some people, it’s easiest to draw out the process on a piece of paper. Others prefer outlining their business workflow process in a spreadsheet or Word document. If the process involves other people–which it typically does–it’s also a good idea to share your drawing or spreadsheet with others to help fill in the blanks.
Again, the key is to keep it simple. Many business processes are complex, so it’s easy to get caught up in all the various conditions, dependencies or decision points within any given process. What’s most important is to generally capture the beginning, middle and end (or desired outcome) of the process you’re aiming to streamline. This is, also, where you will plug in all the employee positions involved in each process - intern all the way to CEO (even if you are wearing all of those hats right now!)
STEP 4: SOLICIT FEEDBACK
When it comes to improving any business workflow or process, the saying, “progress, not perfection” is best. Very few processes are ever perfect. Moreover, the business and world around us is constantly changing, so it only makes sense that our work processes need to evolve over time as well.
This is a good time to solicit help from fellow business bosses to get feedback. Also, gain insight/feedback from anyone directly or indirectly involved in the business workflow chain or the outcomes that the process produces. Seek their opinion on how to streamline steps, improve efficiency, or maybe even try something completely new. While you’ll occasionally identify big changes to processes, more often than not the input to improve is often small and subtle. Don’t discredit these small tweaks! Even the smallest improvement can have a big impact. We will be talking more about areas you can streamline your business next week!
STEP 5: AUTOMATE YOUR BUSINESS WORKFLOW
Care to guess the most common tool people use to track and manage their work processes? The answer is spreadsheets. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of businesses report using spreadsheets to track their critical processes and projects. To eliminate the fear of lost data - try sharing your workflow via google sheets with all of your employees! You can also automate your business workflow by scheduling out your content calendar, marketing posts, organizing your business, using client databases like Honeybook or Trello, Asana, or anything!! Really the sky is the limit and we will keep sharing our favorite ways to systemize next week!
STEP 6: REFINE, REFINE, REFINE
As previously mentioned, no process or workflow is perfect. So once you’ve improved your existing process or have implemented new workflow automation software, expect to refine your process over time. Again, modern business workflow solutions make it easy to refine your process or workflow by allowing you to adjust or improve your workflow with simple drag-and-drop mouse clicks.
Hopefully these six simple suggestions are helpful. Of course, we realize that you’re busy. Maybe so busy that you don’t even have time to improve the processes you already have. If that’s the case, we’re happy to help! Feel free to drop us a line or question below!