Lesley Beagley is the Admin Guru and CRM Queen. She runs an online course for small business owners to learn some of the techniques she uses to help her Admin Consultancy clients to streamline their admin processes and free up time for the important stuff. You can download her free INSIDER SECRETS report at www.SmallBizAdmin-sorted.co.uk
I remember when I set up my first business. There I was with my ‘Big Idea’ and my enthusiasm, frantically trotting round to every networking event I could get to, collecting bucket-loads of business cards and believing every single person I talked to would be a customer before the end of the first quarter!
It was brilliant. I was so excited. I felt like I’d finally escaped from the drudgery of employment and as my own boss would have the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted. But oh how quickly things can change!
I actually was pretty successful early on, and I started getting lots of enquiries through my networking, but with the phone ringing with new customers and repeat clients, and suddenly I realized that stuff was falling through the cracks. I was forgetting to follow up with new leads, not getting my invoices out quickly enough and worse still, not really keeping on top of making sure I’d been paid! The work I was delivering to my clients started to suffer; definitely not the way to build a business.
I was working all hours and at the weekends, stressed out and exhausted before the official working week had even begun!
That’s when I realized my fundamental mistake. I’d gone into business to follow a dream, and only thought about the good bits. What I hadn’t really counted on, or allowed for in my ‘Time Budget’ was having to do all my own admin as well as delivering the work for my clients, on top of being my own Marketing Director, Finance Director and general fixer of all things!
Now, as an Administrative Process Consultant time and time again I see business owners, maybe a year or so into their business, struggling because they didn’t start out with some basic processes and systems in place that would simplify their lives. Often, they are now so busy they just don’t have time to change things, so they muddle on through, working more and more hours yet standing still in their business.
So, whilst your business is young & fresh, get ahead of the game by making sure you can MANAGE your business before you start to market it too intensely!
Get your cores systems in place:
• A filing system – both for physical and electronic files. Ideally set them up with the same basic structure
• Marketing communications system – something like MailChimp for newsletters and autoresponders, ideally linked to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system like Capsule
• Accounts system – whether it’s based on excel spreadsheets or a cloud based package that both you and your accountant you can log into from anywhere.
Start with the end in mind:
• Set up your systems in readiness for where you want your business to be, not where it is right now
Plan your work and work your plan
• Get into the habit from day one of planning your diary – at the start of each month and at the start of each week
• Plan your admin, marketing and accounts time in for specific days each week or month – make these strict appointments with yourself
• Review your diary each night before closing down for the evening so you don’t get caught out by forgetting early appointments
• Build in buffers between appointments to allow time for interruptions, a coffee or even just 5 minute off to enjoy the sunshine!
If you are a business that has been around for a while and is already beginning to struggle?
Take a little time to implement these ideas now; as the ancient Chinese proverb says:
“The BEST time to plant a tree was 20 years ago…the second best time is NOW!”