Smart Start-Up Tips: Systems for Solopreneurs – 7 Ways to Use Systems to Multiply Your Time
The decision to go out on your own is a tough one, especially if you are transitioning from a corporate environment where you have support staff to do all those tasks that you hate doing to working as a solopreneur where you wear all the hats, including the janitor hat.
It’s ideal if you can hire support staff to do the same thing for you in your solopreneur business, but sometimes that’s not always feasible. That means you are stuck doing it all which can lead to a severe time crunch because let’s face it – there’s a reason those tasks were handled by multiple people in your corporate life.
Even if you are in a position to hire help, build your solopreneur systems first so you don’t end up overspending on outsourcing! That way when you are ready to outsource, you can delegate very specific, defined tasks that don’t overlap with any of your solopreneur systems!
7 Ways to Use Systems to Multiply Your Time
#1: Client Attraction – Call it whatever you like – client attraction, lead generation, prospecting. It should be your #1 task and needs a system (or perhaps a few) to make sure you are staying on top of those activities.
Your client attraction system includes both your online and offline marketing activities, such as blogging, networking and speaking. The intent of this system is to keep a steady stream of prospects moving into your sales funnel while the system behind it captures those leads and starts the sales process.
#2: Sales Conversion – The next key system you need is a method to move prospects from initial contact to signing the contract. How this system functions depends on your business, but the principle is the same.
Examples include email autoresponders, introductory coaching calls, or free consultation meetings. The purpose is to lead prospect through a series of value-added steps to a final upsell (or a series of upsells). Even something as simple as a preplanned email sequence that you store in your draft folder counts as a system.
#3: New Client Intake – Instead of going over the same information in the initial client meeting, create a standard package that answers a lot of questions upfront. The purpose is to save time and serve them better by using their time more efficiently.
Your new client intake system should include a standard “Getting Started” package that gives them any background they need before working with you, a new client questionnaire and a special unexpected bonus (to start the relationship off on a happy note).
#4: Project Management – Next you need to create a system for tracking progress and managing key deadlines. The best system works with whatever you currently use for managing your daily calendar and task list.
Even if you aren’t tackling big projects, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of formalizing how you approach projects so you don’t miss key steps and it’s easily shared if and when you bring on other team members.
#5: Social Media Communications – Chances are you are going to use social media in some form or another to build your business. It’s technically part of your client attraction system, but because it can be such a huge drain on your time, it gets its own category.
Two key ways to systematize social media are by creating a list of tips and inspirational thoughts that you share via your streams and setting up RSS feeds to share your latest posts automatically. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be actively engaging.
#6: Task Management – Tasks are perhaps one of the biggest challenges for solopreneur. The temptation is to try to tackle a laundry list of to-do’s which ends up pushing you into overwhelm where nothing gets done.
The specific system doesn’t matter as much as how you handle tasks. Whether you use an electronic system (recommended) or good old-fashioned sticky notes, only assign 2 to 3 must-do tasks per day!
#7: Administrative Functions – Boring stuff like bookkeeping, banking and filing tends to get neglected resulting in big piles of paper all over your office (and often missed or duplicate payments because you forgot which bills were paid and when).
Your administrative system doesn’t have to be overly complicated. An expandable filing folder for receipts, sorted by date and labeled, inboxes for accounts receivables and payables and a designated day to work through the tasks if you aren’t yet outsourcing.