Setting up business systems can seem like a huge undertaking, but years ago I heard someone say, “if you have to do it more than once, you need a system.” At the time I remember thinking, “not me! I don’t have the income to pay for systems!” I know people are intimidated by systems thinking at times, but it can be distilled into something very simple, because we have all kinds of systems in our lives already, and when you do the math it’s actually saving you time and money (or it should be if it’s set up correctly).
Think about your system for your morning cup of coffee (or whatever you drink in the morning). Some people set up the coffee pot the night before so the coffee is hot and ready when they stumble into the kitchen. Others like those quick brewers like a Keurig or Tassimo where you just pop in your choice of brew and push the button. If you do neither but drive through and grab a coffee on your way to work in the morning, that’s a system too. Each of these methods for getting your coffee make your morning routine a bit quicker and more relaxed because you aren’t grinding beans, adding the water, looking for your favourite mug, and then pushing the brew button. Your system makes it faster and easier than doing it manually.
My accounting system used to be nothing like my coffee system. I have several clients on a monthly renewable contract, and at the beginning of each month I am supposed to invoice them. Often, I wasn’t getting my invoicing done until the end of the first week of the month, and sometimes later, which practically defeated the purpose of writing a contract that stipulated pre-payment . Sometimes my clients were even coming to me and saying, “Hey Pam, did I miss your invoice?”
I really had to refine my bookkeeping system. It was pretty taking me about a half day a month to organize things before I could send them off to my bookkeeper, who then re-organized them and created reports that could be used for my annual tax return. Now my monthly bookkeeping is complete in about thirty minutes, and my bookkeeper can see at a glance where things are at, and will have no problem at all putting the tax return together.
A benefit to my clients is that their recurring invoices come off the system on the first, with no delays, and the incidental invoices are very speedy for me to manage. Setting up a client in the system takes about 2 minutes (I am not kidding), and then I can invoice them in another minute because of how things are organized. If you’re curious about what I am using and ready to save yourself some time and effort, check out FreshBooks(affiliate link).
Another system that I set up that has been really amazing is to chunk my time and book appointments with myself. This was harder than the ease of finding an accounting system, but I think I finally have it figured out! I do a lot of writing, but because I also provide consulting and coaching services, my writing is frequently interrupted. Now, I have an editorial calendar that I follow relentlessly and it is allowing me to get all the writing done that I need to for my clients, as well as opening opportunities for me to write my own blog posts and work on a couple of big projects. If you’d like to learn more about editorial calendars and getting your work organized, just let me know. Life is much easier now that I have strong systems in place to support what I want to be doing.
I think I will go grab a coffee and put my feet up for a minute, because I actually have time to do that today!