In order to grow your online businesses – especially as a busy mom – you have to streamline your processes. But, where do you start? Today I’m chatting about three templates to create to streamline your online business so that you can grow in a way that works for you – not the other way around. So, if you’ve ever struggled with repetitive tasks in your business – that take up time and have you recreating the wheel each time they come up, then today’s episode was created with you in mind. Let’s get started.
Links for This Episode
- Free Goal Planning Resource
- Mama Business Strategy Session
- Website Audit & Design Services
- Instagram: @sarahlbrumley
- More Info & Podcast Transcript
Podcast Episode Recommendations
- #44: 3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting an Online Business
- #28: Is Your Business Strategy Too Complicated? This Can Help!
- #26: 7 Online Marketing Tools I Use as a Busy Mom + One I Don’t
Streamline Your Online Business: 3 Templates To Create ASAP for Business Growth
Well hey there and welcome back to another episode of the Mama Business Podcast. I’m so glad you’re with me today as we chat about three templates you should create ASAP to help you grow in your online business without having to recreate the wheel each and every time.
And I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks chatting with other moms in business and listening to what they need and want the most. And, it’s interesting when you do that kind of research and question asking because you don’t necessarily expect everyone to say the same thing, right? I mean we are all different people – different moms – we have different business goals and such, but the interesting thing in my interviews has been that each and every person wanted the exact same things.
So…the good news is, I’m going to be sharing a lot of solutions going forward that can help them (and you) get the exact results you want.
But one of the key phrases I heard was a desire to have automated business systems so that she could have freedom of time to be with family. Who doesn’t want that, right? I mean, no one wants to repeat the same processes over and again when it could be put on autopilot. So today, I’m going to share three easy to implement templates that I believe every mama in business should create ASAP. Of course, these are not the only ways that you can automate your business – and we’ll talk about more in the future, but I think these are the most critical to have in place – no matter what stage of business you are in right now.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
The first thing you should have in template form is your standard operating procedures. This is anything that you do within your business that happens on repeat, whether that’s creating a piece of content, working on a client project, or whatever else it might be that has multiple steps within the process. Obviously, you probably don’t need to have an SOP in place for how to check your email. That’s pretty self explanatory.
In my business, I have several of these in place for:
- Client website projects I’m working on
- Podcast episodes I’m recording and uploading
- Strategy sessions I’m having
…among other things.
And, I think a lot of times we can think that this needs to be complicated, but it really doesn’t. I’ve created all of mine as checklists. So, each time I, let’s say for example, I create a new podcast episode. I copy that checklist into the folder that the podcast episode is going to be stored in, and then I check off all of the steps as they happen. You can do this with a project management platform if you have one, but you can also just use a simple Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet to get the job done. When I started my business years ago, I actually had some of my SOPs in a format where I’d print them off and then use pencil to paper. Obviously, the idea is that it work for you – not the other way around. Right? We want to work smarter, not harder.
Now, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it’s tedious to document all of the steps of a process you are working through. I highly recommend doing this in three steps.
- Create a list from memory of everything you can think of related to the activity.
- Then, do the activity – design that website, conduct that client call, whatever it might be, and add to the list.
- Then, use the list. It’ll become really clear what things you’ve missed after 2-3 times of doing so. Add to it as needed.
For most of us, this won’t be a one-and-done thing. You’ll need to revisit your SOPs as you add or delete services, or whatever else it might be. Consider it a work in progress.
Now, why is this important? Because you might be wondering why you would need to have these SOPs in place if you are, let’s say a solopreneur – working by yourself and doing all of the things. Plus, the reason you do what you do is because it’s second nature, right?
But…I know you want to grow your business because you are listening to a podcast all about business growth strategies. And at some point, you’ll likely need to take on an employee or hire a contractor and having SOPs in place will mean that no one will be confused as to where you left off or what needs to get done in order to maintain the quality result that your clients and customers have come to know and love.
That’s one reason, but there are a lot of others, including the fact that – as busy mamas working from home, we often get interrupted mid-project. That happens to you, too, right? It’s not just me? Because I know that when I deal with an interruption it takes me a lot of time to regroup. And without those SOPs in place, I’d definitely miss steps in the process or have to take additional time to figure out where I left off.
So, knowing all of that the first thing you should have in template form or automated within your business is your standard operating procedures.
Introductory Client Correspondence
The second thing you should have in template form within your business is new client correspondence. Sometimes I like to call this introductory client correspondence, but it’s all of the information your a new client needs in order to be successful and help you get their project or service up and off the ground.
This could be contracts you need signed, instructions for what to do next, invoices, and anything else that’s required for you to do the work they’ve contracted with you.
In my case, I have a standard contract that every marketing client of mine has to sign. That contract doesn’t change, so I’ve created it in Jotform. Jotform then allows me to share that link with my new client so they can sign and date the form and then I receive the completed form directly to my inbox. That link doesn’t change – so I don’t have to recreate any of that form again in the future.
I also have a standard form that I have every client fill out regarding their desires for their marketing services, as well as any information I need regarding their colors, images, etc. For your business that might be different, but I find that getting as much of that information at the beginning of our time working together helps negate the back and forth later on in the project. Once again, this link doesn’t change and I don’t have to recreate it down the line.
Lastly, I invoice each client for the total amount of their services. I’ve chosen to use Waveapps as my bookkeeping platform, and I’ve been able to add each service I offer to that platform and then all I have to do is enter the new client information, add the services she has chosen and once again, I have a link I can provide directly to that client. Now, because I’m adding a few client details to the invoice, this isn’t completely hands off, but the foundation is in place when I have a new client.
How does this all come together? Well, I like to have an introductory call with each potential client. We discuss details and I take notes. Then, if they choose to go forward with services, I send them an email with all of this information. And – you guessed it!!! I already have that email drafted and ready to go. It’s a copy/paste job and all I have to do is add any details from our call and the link to the invoice so they can get started with their services.
That sounds like a lot, but by taking the time to get that template and process in place ahead of time, I don’t have to recreate the wheel with each new client and I save myself (and them) a lot of time and frustration.
Totally worth it.
Now, I do know that there are platforms that you can set up to have all of this done for you automatically. Dubsado is one that I’ve personally used and is great for service-based entrepreneurs. The cost was a bit higher than I was comfortable paying each month, though, and I’ve found the platforms that I’m currently using to be a little more user-friendly.
Totally personal preference on my end, but ultimately, you need to find something that works for you so that you aren’t doing the same things over and over again and wasting your time. Whatever your client onboarding process is – get it to the place where it works for you, not the other way around. As with anything in business, right?
So, the first thing you should have in template form or automated within your business is your standard operating procedures and the second thing is your new client correspondence. That brings us to the third and final thing you should automate in order to streamline your online business which is your appointment scheduling.
Whether it’s for prospective or current clients, contractors, employees, or whoever else, you need a way to have people schedule appointments with you that doesn’t involve you having to go back and forth via email or potentially double scheduling yourself.
Trust me, I know. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening.
And one of the best choices I’ve made within my business is to have an online scheduling platform that I can simply give a link to and allow others to see my availability and make an appointment. And I give a link to everyone. Clients, potential clients, people who want coffee chats, podcast guests, and on busy weeks – even sometimes friends who want to schedule play dates.
It saves me so much time and frustration. And them, too, because they aren’t waiting for me to get back to them to get on the schedule.
Personally, I use Acuity Scheduling, but there are a lot of other scheduling platforms that would work as well. I’m able to create different appointment types – like introductory calls that are free and only require 15 minutes of my time versus strategy calls for a fee that require me to be available for an entire hour. I can set my regular business hours and even change those hours for different appointment types. So, if I don’t want to meet with new clients on Tuesdays, I don’t have to. Or if I only want to meet with current clients between 12 and 2 on weekdays, I can set that as a restriction. And you should be able to do that on any scheduling app you use.
The best thing is that scheduling platform links directly to my personal calendar which means that when my mom comes to town and I add that to my personal calendar, then my online scheduling app will block that time off so that no one can create an appointment during that time frame.
So, if you are looking for a way to streamline and automate parts of your business – this is a great place to start. And, for the price (I pay less than $20 per month for my scheduling app), it’s totally worth it.
Streamline Your Online Business
Alrighty, let’s do a quick recap. The three things you should have or get into template form ASAP in order to streamline your online business are:
- Your standard operating procedures
- Your new client correspondence
- Your appointment scheduling
And that brings us to the action part of this episode. And we love action, because action is where the dreams turn into the reality. I’m hoping – really hoping – that you’ll do all of the things we’ve chatted about today so that you can continue to move forward and achieve that business growth you’ve been dreaming of. But, if you only have time for one thing, it’s this:
ACTION: Start by documenting your SOPs. Because the sooner you do so, the sooner you can really maximize your growth. This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. You don’t need to document EVERY process today, but the next time you take on a project or do a repetitive activity within your business, consider those three steps before you get started.
- Create a list from memory of everything you can think of related to the activity.
- Then, do the activity, adding to the list as you go along.
- Then, use the list for the next project and the next project and keep adding things to it until it truly works and feels complete.
The truth is that, as we discussed in the beginning, we all want businesses that run on autopilot – if only that were possible, right, but in order to see that big growth, in order to keep from sacrificing our family lives now and into the future, and in order to keep the overwhelm at bay – we have to take steps toward using our time wisely. These templates will help you do just that.
So, with that said – know that I’m cheering you on!
I hope you have an amazing day and I look forward to chatting with you again next time.