If you aren’t particularly tech-tastic then getting started with systems and automations can feel daunting. You put off implementing things because it all feels a bit too much.

But it shouldn’t feel daunting if you taking it in small steps.  And most importantly it should work with you, not against you

Myth of Systems

I want to dispel a myth that to systematize your business you have to get automated and have all the tech. This is so not true. A system is simply an organized way of doing something. You can totally have a paper system if that works for you, and often this is the best way of easing into systems.  

I personally have a mix of tech and paper. For my planning I do some elements online because that means I have it with me whether I am working at home, in a coffee shop or at another office. But for the initial steps in my planning, I do it all on paper. I find writing helps the thinking process in a way that typing on a computer doesn’t. Which is the key – the  system has to work for you.

Really a system is just something to help you be more organized so you aren’t having to remember what you need to do every time you start working with a client or you aren’t spending hours looking for something or re-doing everything from scratch every time.

It also doesn’t mean automating every single aspect of your business. There are parts of your business where you are going to want to include a human touch. The wonderful thing is that systems allow you more time for those meaningful conversations.

To Get Started

If you are starting out on your systematizing journey, rather than getting caught up in making big changes, there are 3 things I recommend starting with:

1. Checklists

Pick one part of your business where you need to remember to do a series of steps. It might be the steps you need to do to create a blog post or to welcome a client or to develop a set of photographs. Grab a pad of post it notes or cards and brainstorm all the steps you need to take, then line them up in order.

If the items on the checklist don’t need to be done in order then you could skip this step. But what I recommend doing if this is the case is putting the task on the list that you least like doing first. Then when you start the checklist you do that item first rather than putting it off. This is particularly important if like me you are a procrastination queen👸

Then grab your computer and type up the list. If you are feeling creative then you can do fancy things like tick boxes but really it just needs to be a list you can cross off. Then every time you need to this series of steps, print off your list and away you go. You can file the paper version in an appropriate spot – like a client file – so you can see where you are up to at a glance.

2. Template Emails

We all have those emails that we write time and time again. It could be following up with a potential client, asking for information from new clients or seeking feedback once a project is completed.

The bones of these emails rarely change. You can add a personal note at the beginning or there may be elements that need tailoring to the work you are going to complete. But overall the main parts of the email rarely change.

No matter how many times you write them every time you start from scratch it requires a bit of your creativity. Creativity that you could be using on making that personal note at the beginning of the email that much more personalised or working on that new idea that will be of much more value to your lovely clients.

That is where the magic of template emails comes into play.

Setting up template emails:

To get started take the following steps:

  1. Pick an email you send out regularly.
  2. Go to your sent emails and find one of these emails that you have sent out recently.
  3. Copy the text to a document that you can find easily (this step is probably the most important!) I like to create a google drive folder with them in so I can find them when I am out and about but you can use a folder on your computer. Just make sure its location is easy to remember.
  4. Edit the text to remove any personalisations you had in your email and make any minor tweaks needed to the language and you are good to go.
  5. Rinse and repeat for other emails!

Now instead of spending time re-hashing the basic elements you want to put in the email, you can spend time personalising when you do go to use. Instead of thinking I must remember to explain what the next steps in working with you are, you can spend time asking them how their business is going or sharing an extra piece of value with them.

It is all about having time to provide value and build relationships with people. Rather than feeling like a rushed robot.

3. Scheduling Appointments

I am sharing an affiliate link here. I will receive a small commission if you purchase. There is no additional cost to you. I am recommending a product I personally use and pay for.  

I used to waste so much time with going back and forth with clients to schedule appointments. When there were different time zones involved, things occasionally went completely haywire with me suggesting to talk on Wednesday and clients agreeing when my Wednesday was actually their Tuesday. #antipodeanproblems

Luckily a friend put me on to a scheduling app and the rest as they say is history. Well not quite history as I still have clients booking in for 1am their time when they think it is 1pm but it is a lot smoother than it used to be. No system is ever perfect or foolproof and you shouldn’t be aiming for that.

Now I know at the start I talked about not implementing tech and this does require tech but they are pretty simple to set up and there are free options if you only have one type of appointment. I personally use AcuityScheduling (affiliate link) but there are other great options such as Calendly and ScheduleOnce.

The big thing is to not get caught up in all the options these systems have (at least initially). Just set up a simple appointment and the times you are available. Don’t worry about fancy buttons or links on your website if that feels like a step too far. Just grab the booking link that the scheduling app provides and when someone emails to book a time with you, pop the link in the reply email and away you go.

If you do go with Acuity and get stuck, shoot me an email at caroline@carolinemwood.com for some troubleshooting help.

As with most things in business the key to starting is starting small with manageable tasks. Then as your confidence builds you surprise yourself with how much you can do.

To get ready to do more once you have these three items in place, download my automation action plan to work out what to automate next. Simply pop your email below to get your copy.

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