Not too long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage and do WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. In fact, I know MANY businesses, organizations and individuals that have or currently are incredibly stressed out and exhausted due to juggling too many roles, hats, or whatever you label all of your work and personal life responsibilities.
I know that sometimes there just isn't a way out of it. Hiring someone is just not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern, and volunteers, though great, just don't have the skills to do what you need done.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" You create systems. If you had systems in place, you would eliminate quite a bit of time explaining things, and doing work from scratch, or I'm even guilty of this, doing something totally different from before because I forgot how I did it last. Also, when systems are in place, then you do feel comfortable hiring someone and recruiting an intern or volunteer. You and they know exactly what needs to happen, what they need to be accomplishing. There is less time spent in training and orientation because documented systems can serve as training material. So here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as you can...
I recommend that you put a marketing system, a sales system and customer service system in place. For a non profit these correlate to marketing and communications system, solicitation system, donor and funder relations system.
1. The Marketing System: The marketing system is figuring out all of the things that happen with your marketing and then breaking those things or activities into categories in terms of the type of marketing. So advertising, direct mail, newsletter, and press, these would all be categories. Then go through and list the general timeline of when this work gets done, how often is it repeated, how much money or budget is allocated to expenditures in those categories, even list who does what throughout the process, if it is the case that you have more than one person working in that area.
Marketing work and implementation can be outrageously cumbersome and can require a lot of repetitive tasks. That's why this is a great place to get your systems going.
2. Sales System: Sales work can be very complex and like marketing it has a lot of steps and directions that are involved. You need to be able to track where in the sales cycle a client is easily, without having to rely on memory, or having to rely on old emails that you'll need to search and find. These methods work, but only if you want to stay super small as a business or organization. If you want to take things to the next level...you have to get out of this framework of sales. Find and use a sales CRM system that is simple and fulfills your needs. Then write down how you manage your potential clients, donors, etc through this program. You can write down what happens before they get entered into the program, and what happens after the sale or donation.
3. Customer Service System: Customers service is a high priority when you run a small business or organization. What your customers say about you can make or break you. In order to keep them happy a customer service system should be put into place. Again, you document all the steps a typical customer will go through from their very first transaction with them to the (hopefully not!) last interaction with them.
Now before you say you don't have time for this, I suggest you really look at your day and see if you can add another 30 minutes to your day. Those extra 30 minutes can be spent on getting systems in place. The motivation is that once you do it you will have more free time to do the work you LOVE to do.
Now you tell me. What systems do you have in place, how has having systems in place helped you in your business? I'd love to know so leave a comment for me below.
As always, to your Illumination!