For creative professionals, running a business is a careful balance between the art and the structure. In other words, right-brained creatives have to switch gears to keep up with the organizational responsibilities that keep their business going so they can continue to do what they do best: create.
However, when these two realms aren’t in balance, it’s easy to burn out and lose steam on both sides of the business. You may end up losing the passion for your trade that drove you to start your company in the first place. Perhaps you’re thinking that owning a business isn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
Yet, this mindset isn’t an indictment on creative entrepreneurship — it’s simply a sign that you need to make some adjustments to your business so it can better support your productivity and your drive to create. To avoid fizzling out, creatives need to create a reliable internal system that will streamline operational tasks, freeing up time and mental space for what matters most: the craft.
After all, none of us decided to start a business one day because we wanted to spend our hours tracking expenses and responding to emails. Are these necessary tasks? Absolutely. But that does not mean you need to spend more time working on your business than you do working in your business.
If you’re ready to dive back into the world of inspiration, the solution lies in the systems and workflows that form the foundation of your business. Here’s what you need to know to embrace efficiency and reclaim your creative process.
START WHERE YOU ARE.
Before you can improve your operational structure, you need first to assess where you currently stand. Jot down all of your business’s recurring processes, from your sales workflow to your client intake procedure to your offboarding technique. For each one, identify the steps you take from start to completion and take note of the areas that consume the most time in your schedule. Also, consider the tasks that are necessary but fill you with dread.
These are the areas prime for optimization and simplification. The goal of building systems and workflows into your business is to standardize operations and rely on what is proven to work instead of recreating the wheel each and every time. Only then will you find more freedom and abundance in your schedule to focus on your creative process.
EXPERIMENT WITH NEW SOLUTIONS.
The only way to grow is to try new things. When you have a good idea of your business’s efficiency gaps, you can begin exploring alternative solutions that will save you time and energy. Today, there are countless digital tools for every facet of business administration — from social media schedulers to time-tracking apps to accounting software; you can streamline virtually any part of your company’s backend.
Spend some time researching applicable programs that can help you to bridge the gaps in your workflows and streamline your usual tasks. Perhaps you just need to build in some canned responses for email inquiries. Maybe you need a more comprehensive solution, like a CRM database that manages contracts, invoices, timelines, and other client account information. When it comes to new technology, you really can’t know what works without trying it. Take advantage of free trials and demos before signing on for the long haul.
If you’re in a place to hire, consider outsourcing the most time-consuming tasks to someone more adept. For example, an accountant will make short work to track your expenses and keep your books updated regularly because it’s what they do best. Likewise, a social media specialist or copywriter might be an excellent addition to your team if you’re always struggling to keep up with fresh content. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hire a new employee; in fact, outsourcing to a contractor can be a cost-effective way to check off those boxes without investing too much capital.
MAINTAIN NEW SYSTEMS AND ADJUST AS NEEDED.
Once you’ve implemented some new systems and processes that seem to work, give them a few months to iron out the details. For example, if you’re using a new CRM platform, wait until you’ve put in all of your templates and have used it for a while before doing a full evaluation. Often, new programs come with a learning curve and you want to be sure you’ve given your due diligence before making a final decision.
If you do decide to switch things up, revisit your initial research to see if there were other ideas that might be a fit. Consult with colleagues and industry peers to gather feedback and inspiration. Speaking to professionals who have faced similar issues can lend a wealth of clarity to the situation and you might discover some ideas that hadn’t occurred to you prior.
Once you find the right formula for your business—and you will!—it’s a matter of maintaining the system’s integrity. Just as you take your car in for routine oil changes, your business processes also need to be tuned up at regular intervals. The market is always changing and, if your company isn’t keeping up, it will ultimately result in disrepair — just like a vehicle that is left forgotten in the garage for too long.
At the very least, check in with your systems and procedures before the busy season to see if it needs to be updated. Rely on your recent experiences from the year to determine what has and has not worked for you thus far. However, this process is made much easier if you’re always keeping an eye on your progress and making minor adjustments when necessary. If you notice a gap during your day-to-day workflow, it’s worth addressing it sooner rather than waiting for your annual evaluation to roll around.
Building more efficient systems and processes into your business is a matter of understanding; you must have a deep grasp of your current operations, personal strengths and weaknesses, and the areas in which your business can improve. Once you begin adjusting your approach to better serve your business and your clients, you’ll find that your schedule—and your brain—will have more space to revel in the creative process and discover new directions for growth.
If you want to reclaim your creativity in your business let’s set up a time to chat and see how I can help you! CLICK HERE to set up a call.
System & Workflow Strategist
5 EASY STEPS TO AMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Learn 5 simple things you can do to boost your social media presence in your marketing strategy.