Saving 10 hours a week seems like a big, bold (and let's face it, unrealistic) promise, but it's true — so hear me out on this one and it'll be worth it, I promise.
I work with hundreds of entrepreneurs every single month and they all echo the same sentiments over and over again...
- "I wish I could clone myself so I could get more done."
- "Why can't I find anyone that can do it as good as I can."
- "There just aren't enough hours in the day."
You're a visionary, an entrepreneur — someone who has the drive to make something happen.
And that's why it can be so easy to get lost in your own brilliant ideas and overwhelm yourself with everything at hand — because you know what needs doing, and how to do it, but don't know where to start or your constantly moving too many directions at one time.
I've lost count of the productivity tools, workbooks, planners, and operating systems that I've turned to over the years — all collecting dust now.
Nothing gave me the results that I needed until I really embraced processes. Let me show you why.
Processes Are More than Just Checklists
— They're Your Business' Operating Systems
If you want to make the most of your time, you need systems that are lean and efficient. You can't wing it, otherwise, things will get slower as more hands touch them — which never leads to improvement, but rather a decrease in efficiency.
Why would business processes be any different?
Think of an operating system as being the framework of your business. It handles all interactions that take place across your organization so you don't have to worry about them.
Just like a computer, when things go wrong, we aren't tempted to run around and fix each individual issue ourselves. We boot up our laptops/desktops and open up the operating systems that handles all of those things for us.
This is what you'll be able to do with clear business processes in your organization as well.
Processes are the Building Blocks for Great Businesses
I'm not going to lie, building and implementing effective processes takes time — but it's a time investment worth making.
Think about it like this: if you have any interest in building a lasting company that scales, it's going to take some time and effort up front, but the payoff will be huge.
Processes are your business' operating systems — they handle repetitive tasks so you don't have to. The more processes you have in place that are implemented well, the less time you'll waste on various non-revenue generating activities.
You may say to yourself, "I already have business processes in my company — I do them every week!"
Great! What are those processes? And while you're at it, can you name everyone who's involved in the process from start to finish? If not... that's what this post is for.
Once you've got specific, actionable business processes in place you can adjust them as needed to create even more efficiency and productivity.
The goal is to build a solid foundation for your company that will sustain it for the long haul and free up your time to do the bigger things that will scale your business — but let's take it one step at a time.
Processes Unlock the Power of Multiplication
This is a biggie.
You could hire and train your team to work more efficiently, but it will never be the same as creating well-thought-out processes that give you consistent results every time.
As business owners, we all know that the most valuable commodity in our company is time. And if you want to reap those rewards from your business, you have to squeeze as much value out of that time as possible.
You can do this by replacing some repetitive tasks with processes and either delegating them to the right person or utilizing automated systems designed to handle these kinds of things for you.
Processes are the backbone of most, if not all, successful companies.
When you have clear processes in place, it's a whole lot easier to evaluate them and make improvements that will drive your business forward. These process documents will become the foundation for whatever success your company experiences.
That's why they're so important — when businesses have these solid foundations, bigger and better things come along.
- Processes are building blocks that you build a stronger company on.
- They let you hire people to take work off you so you can do more.
- They let you maintain quality while you delegate work.
- They save time by allowing someone to do the work correctly the first time and address any problems that arise faster.
How do You Get Started Creating Processes?
You have to start somewhere — this is why you need to figure out what processes your business currently uses. If I asked you right now, "what are some of the key processes that run your company?" how would you answer?
To be honest, most entrepreneurs don't have this kind of clarity yet. But that's ok! This is the perfect time for you to start building your business process framework so you can get a clear picture of what areas need improvement.
This step will help you achieve two things:
- it will tell you which processes are most critical to your company at the moment
- it will help you identify which processes need improvement to create efficiency.
When you know where improvements can be made, it's easier to move forward with those changes and start reaping the benefits.
1. Identify Your Company's Most Important Business Processes
Try using the following questions to evaluate your company's main processes:
- What business processes make up the backbone of my company right now?
- How long does each process take from start to finish?
- How can I streamline this process to save time in the future?
- What are the main outputs of each process?
- What are some secondary outputs?
Here's a simplified example that details how this works.
Let's say you're an entrepreneur who runs a social media marketing company.
Social Media Process Example: You run a social media marketing business — so one of your processes is creating posts for Instagram, tweets for Twitter, etc. Each social platform has a different day and time of the week that's best for posting content. Your team creates these posts every week — they're pretty consistent about it.
But some weeks, they have to firefight last-minute problems like technical glitches or brand crises that need immediate attention. These tasks add extra time to the process that wasn't originally accounted for.
You can improve this process by doing the following things:
- Plan social media posts ahead of time — and create a checklist so new team members will know exactly what to do each week.
- Move social media tasks to the top of your priority list — so they're always getting done in a timely manner.
- Automate this process as much as possible so it's smooth sailing from start to finish on a weekly basis.
If you want an easier way to figure out which processes are most important, make a ranking system based on the results of this evaluation. This will help you identify the most pressing issues that need to be addressed ASAP.
2. Document Your Business Processes
Now that you know which processes are critical for your company, it's time to create detailed, step-by-step documentation for each one. These documents should include every action that takes place during the process — these are referred to as SOP's or Standard Operating Procedures.
You'll be able to make a lot of improvements once you know what is involved in each business process — so try to cover as many steps as possible.
My recommendation is to write up a brief description for each action (including tools and software that are used) and include any applicable screenshots or visuals for clarity. In some cases, I even make step-by-step videos using Loom to help guide my team through the tasks that I want them to do.
This section will vary a lot depending on the type of business — but I recommend that you consider including the following details if they're applicable to your business and this workflow:
- What purpose does this process serve?
- Why is it necessary — in other words, if you didn't have this process, what negative consequences would you experience?
- How can running this process be automated in the future to save time and money?
- How can this process be improved or optimized?
- What other industries/private companies are doing something similar and how can you improve on their workflows?
- What software/tools should be used to automate each step in the business process?
- How long does this process take from start to finish, on average?
- What is the final result of running the workflow?
- How can you streamline the end-to-end process?
- What problems occur in this business process and how are they handled?
- If there's a specific point where the workflow usually breaks down, what is it and how do you fix it?
- What tools/software should be used to create these workflows?
- How can you be more efficient with your time when executing this process?
- Are there any automation tools that will help you get the job done quicker?
- How many people are involved in running this workflow, on average?
- Who usually provides input/feedback as the workflow progresses?
- What extra tools/software are needed in order to get this job done?
- Are there any particular skills that you need for each step in this workflow?
- Where can you find these people?
- How do you ensure that your employees are following the right steps when executing this workflow?
- If anything breaks down along the way, what problem-solving techniques are used to get things back on track quickly?
- Is there an end-user for each stage in this workflow who needs clear instructions in order to complete their tasks?
- How can you optimize your processes by running them more often or repeating various stages?
- Do you have anyone in your company that will be able to train other employees on how to perform this task?
3. Choose Your Preferred Tools for Creating Workflows
Next, you need some tools that will help you optimize each process from start to finish — and they don't have to cost a lot of money. I recommend using simple business productivity tools (like Trello or ClickUp) for automating each workflow stage.
I've used ClickUp to run every process within my business over the past few years and I'm happy to report that it's worked out incredibly well. It was designed specifically for teams, which means there are tons of different features that can help you run this stuff smoothly — you can easily add and manage employees, share reports and visual data, create step-by-step checklists that guide employees through each workflow stage, mark specific tasks as "complete," etc.
I use ClickUp for business processes mainly because I'm a huge fan of the Kanban system, but I also like the flexibility to have other views of my work — including timeline or table views — without having to recreate all my tasks.
I create all our SOPs as Documents in ClickUp and embed any checklists or videos that my team needs to complete the tasks.
4. Create Your First Workflow
Once you've got your preferred tools, it's time to get started on the workflow process. You should be asking yourself these questions before you start writing your first workflow:
- What kind of tasks can you automate? (It's always good to start small and build up from there.)
- Who is going to use this process/workflow?
- What are the end goals of each workflow stage?
- How does it help them or your business?
- What tools will be used for each workflow stage?
- What are the steps that need to be completed in order to complete this process?
- Are there any specific tools/software that will help speed things up?
- How can you better organize your business processes and make them more appealing?
- Are there any ways that you can deliver easy-to-use systems for your employees in order to help them complete their tasks faster?
- How can you better organize your business processes and make them more appealing to customers?
5. Maintain Your Workflows and Processes
Once everything's been set up, it's time to keep the workflow running efficiently. I use a similar approach for each type of business process — the first step is to create everything and make sure that it works. Then you need to organize your processes on a regular basis
Every few months I'll optimize each process. I'll:
- Create new posts or documents that replace older ones
- Remove tasks that no longer need to be completed
- Update software/web tools that are used for each process stage.
- Remove tasks from each workflow stage.
It's important to stay on top of the tasks you complete so that you don't waste time doing repetitive checks. This is also helpful because it shows your employees that they don't need to be checking a certain task every day, which will give them more freedom to work on higher-level activities.
Remember: On a regular basis — at least once a year — you need to ask yourself if each of your processes are being completed efficiently by both your employees and customers. If not, it's time to start looking into new workflow strategies that will help you complete those tasks more quickly.
- Identify Your Company's Most Important Business Processes
- Document Those Processes
- Choose Your Workflow Tool
- Create Your First Workflow
- Regular Upkeep and Review is Critical