In a perfect world, you’d get to spend all of your time and energy doing what you love most: helping others bring their events to life. But whether you’re a caterer, designer, or photographer, the creative side only makes up half of your business—the other half is made up of the operations that keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.
Unfortunately, many creatives don’t give their businesses the time, love, and attention it needs to thrive. And while it may not be immediately apparent at first, it shows up in small and subtle inefficiencies that keep you stuck in the same cycles: misplacing important files, forgetting follow-ups, and feeling like there’s never enough time to “do it all.”
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The worst part? There are countless apps and software programs marketed as the must-have “quick fix” to get your operations in order, so it’s easy to end up spending money on solutions your business doesn’t even have the foundation to support.
Stop losing time and money to inefficiencies and disorganization. Instead, focus your energy on the fundamentals before you find yourself broke and exhausted with little to show for it. Avoid these three common mistakes that hold business owners back from reaching their goals.
Relying on outdated systems
Think of your business like your smartphone. It can be working perfectly fine…until you forget to update it for several weeks and, suddenly, none of your apps work properly. “Remind me later” might be convenient in the moment, but it keeps your phone “stuck.”
Your business systems are similar. If you’re constantly drowning in hand-filed receipts or losing time to a mess of Google Docs with no organization system, it’s a good sign your systems need an update. You might think it’s enough to jump in each quarter and clean house, but the reality is that great systems don’t need a triage day. They take work off your plate rather than adding more to it!
If something doesn’t work as effectively as possible, allow yourself to move on and try something new. An outdated system doesn’t have to be “old”—it just means doesn’t work for your current business model. It may have at one point, but it’s time to move on.
In some cases, it may be as simple as upgrading to a more robust plan for a platform you already use. Unlocking extra features can make all the difference! For instance, your customer relationship management (CRM) tool may be great if only its automations were unlimited. If the next tier up includes unlimited automations, it’s worth the investment!
Skipping over SOPs
Do you ever dream about hiring a team? If not, you should start considering what extra support could do for your business and your wellbeing. The freedom to delegate the overflow (and then some) could mean finally launching the course, podcast, or membership you’ve never had the time to do. Or perhaps it means trimming those 60-hour weeks into manageable 40-hour weeks so you have more time with loved ones.
Regardless, team-building should be a goal for most entrepreneurs. Yet hiring, training, and delegating is no small feat of its own—it requires time and effort to ensure your work is in good hands. That’s where your standard operating procedures (SOPs) come in.
SOPs are step-by-step instructions for your business’s processes and procedures. For instance, scheduling on social media may involve sourcing images, uploading them to your scheduler, writing captions, adding hashtags, and setting a date and time.
An SOP would walk through each of these steps, providing relevant logins and information for easy hand-off. The purpose is to make delegation as seamless as possible by ensuring team members can pick up a task and run with it. So, spend a half-day sitting down in your business and outlining all of the workflows that keep it running smoothly. And don’t forget to be as detailed as possible!
Missing out on automation
Automation is a powerful solution embraced by many businesses in recent years, and with good reason. It’s not going anywhere—and, if anything, it’s only getting better as the days go by. If you shine a light on your business, you’ll note many mundane tasks that require zero brainpower but are otherwise necessary. Filing documents, sending invoices, and scheduling appointments are just a few examples.
Doing such tasks manually is easy enough, so why bother automating? “Easy” isn’t enough. “Vital” and “efficient” are more like it—so put those time-consuming to-dos on the chopping block no matter how easy. A few minutes here and there can really add up!
Time aside, many of these smaller tasks require more mental strain than you’d think. Remembering where to put a file, confirming your invoice details, and going back and forth on appointment times may seem par for the course. But again, these small things can add up to a greater problem: decision fatigue.
Free yourself from the pressure and time commitment by embracing automation in your business. The results are pretty immediate, and you’ll be enjoying extra time (and less headaches) before you know it.
Are you guilty of any of these three blunders? It’s OK! Most entrepreneurs can relate to at least one of them; but remember, knowledge is power. When you can identify and understand the obstacles in your business, you can address them accordingly and overcome them without a hitch.