Systems

3 Baby Steps to Getting Started With Systems

 
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Let’s have a chat, my wonderful wedding boss!

2018 is coming at us like a spider monkey. Are you ready? Hmmm... didn't think so. Because you’re ready for a change that’s been a long time comin’, it’s exciting and is gonna change your biz, and I want to stick my nose in it and help. 💁🏻

So yay, we’re talking about your soon-to-be systems!

Over the past few months, you’ve taken a look around at the chaos piling up around you, and have had MORE THAN ONE “look at your life, look at your choices” moment...

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The signs are ALL there that your business systems freaking suck.

You have post-its and random pieces of paper thrown all over your office. You know you have plans today but your Google Calendar is suspiciously blank, and there are three things you actively know you’re forgetting about right now.

On behalf of your clients, your team, and literally everyone else you work with, let me just say “Hell yes!” Pop the champagne!

What is it they say about admitting you have a problem? 🤔

Soooo you’re ready to peace out with the disorganized life and get your shit together. And the secret to that is snazzy systems.

Let’s rewind.

Business Systems 101

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I have a crazy amazing introduction to systems that’s worth reading before you go revamping your own, but here’s the gist:

  • Your systems are all the guidelines, rules, and processes that you go through to do your job. The...I know this word sucks…“structure.”
  • They’re soooo essential to successful businesses, and even though you’re a heart-driven creative, you’re also a boss.
  • Quick rundown of the benefits? Sure! They set a foundation for each new client, they keep things consistent across your biz, they help you delegate things easier, and they make you look professional AF.

Who doesn’t want all that?

But here’s the thing.

When you get started, you won’t go straight from “hot mess express” to “totally together” in one afternoon.

Nope, it’s more of a process, so feel free to start small.

Want to dip your toe into the whole “being organized” thing? Here’s what you do.

1. Start writing shit down

The first thing you can do to start de-stressing your biz ASAP is writing shit down. Anything in your head that you’re supposed to remember, get it on paper, into an app, whatever works for you.

But for the love of chocolate, do not trust yourself to remember everything you have going on!

Start doing this sooner rather than later, because you can’t organize your business systems if they only exist in your own brain. It’s time to start putting all those brilliant plans, ideas, calendars, and lists in your head somewhere they can be used.

Have a phone call later today? Write it down.

Need to remember to send an email? Write it down.

Can’t remember the steps for scheduling your social media posts and you forget how to use the friggin app every single time? Write it down.

I don’t even care where you put it! (We’ll get to that later.)

Just find a notebook or open up a new email and start writing notes to yourself. This will start to document your systems for you and let you see how they currently are before starting to clean it all up.

2. Keep it all in one place

System Upgrade

Once you’ve made a habit of writing shit down to make sure it actually happens, you’re ready for an upgrade...

Writing down everything going on in your biz, even if it’s digital, starts to get crazy and cluttered. And the annoying thing is, the better your business is doing, the more stuff you have to shovel through.

Blerghhh, it’s time to start organizing!

Keeping everything in one place creates one big ole hub for everything in your business. Even if it’s huge and not set up all fancy, at least you know everything is there.

Make it a special notebook, a Trello board, or use my FAVORITE TOOL EVER, Dubsado. (We’ll talk about that more in a hot sec.) Then make sure to set aside time *at least* once a week to update everything.

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3. Simplify and streamline

Look at you! Things all documented and organized like a systems queen.

But now you’re spending time writing things down, organizing it, making sure it’s all updated.

Let’s be real...no matter how much you love that stuff or how often you drink a glass of wine while you do it, it can get to be a pain in the ass.

It’s like you’re getting punished for having your shit together! 😂

That’s when it’s time to put streamlining and automation to work. You can use apps and tools and all the fun tech stuff to do the organizing for you. Spend more time with your family, your brides, or your wine while tools like Dubsado run your biz for you. 🙌

Take to-do lists.

You’ve got to-do lists out the wazoo.

Each step of a wedding has its own checklist, pretty much.

Instead of writing them out every time, Dubsado manages to-do workflows and can even complete some of the basic tasks - like sending emails, contracts, and invoices - for you. Yassss. Your own little assistant.

And that’s all it takes.

Start small. Write down things you can’t remember and keep track of them. As you start slaying at that, build up and up until soon, your biz will be a smooth-running creative machine. 😎

Like what you see? Click here for more!

4 Signs Your Wedding Business Systems May Suck

Yasss! You’re creative heart has decided you want your wedding biz full of organized systems out the wazoo.

Welcome to the dark side, we have color coding. 🤓

But let me tell you something, and realizing this will be game-changing for getting your shit together: systems are like reputations... you have one whether you want to talk about it or not.

The difference is whether you control it.

No matter what, you have a reputation. 

You can ask to be “excluded from this narrative” a la 2016 Taylor Swift, or you can take control of that mofo, a la Taylor Swift right now. 💁🏻 (#micdrop)

The same is true with your systems. Obviously, if you already have a business, you have your way of doing things, so you have the foundations for some systems.

They’re just proooobably a hot mess.

Sure, there’s a chance you’re more organized than you’d realized. But let’s be real. 🙄  

I’m guessing you’ve got some work to do - hell, even I’ve got some work to do, and I’m a badass at this. 😎

So how do you know that you may need to get your systems together? Here are a few signs the struggle is too real...


1. You have more than one “oh shit!” moment a week

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You know that feeling. The moment of panic followed by slight nausea and a healthy side of scrambling. 🤢

Because it’s 2pm and you just a remembered an email you promised you’d send yesterday. Or it’s Wednesday morning and you notice you left something at a wedding over the weekend.

Or you realize Thursday afternoon that the deadline you thought was next week was actually tomorrow...so much for watching Scandal. 😂

If you’re having these “oh shit!” moments on the reg, it’s time to step your systems up so you can keep track of what’s going on in your biz.


2. Your inbox is so crowded you just actively avoid it

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Oh, those 3,643 unread emails taunting you every morning, noon, and night. At this point, you’ve pretty much accepted that they’ll just ALWAYS be there until the day you or your business dies.

At which point, those unread emails will STILL find a way to haunt you. 👻

So instead of actually trying to get a good email system together, you just avoid email as much as possible. You’ll just scan through the first page of messages once or twice a day, looking for anything important.

I mean, you’re pretty sure you saw all the important stuff… 🤔

This kind of stuff does not end well for your business. Do I need to spell out how that ends up? Because I will.


3. You’ve missed out on a job because it took you too long to respond

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I told you I’d spell it out. When your business and inbox is utter chaos, there’s a good chance that at least once, someone’s contacted you to hire you and you didn’t notice it soon enough. 😬

Maybe it took you 3 weeks to see the email among your 500 others and by the time you replied, the couple had found another wedding photographer.

Hell, if your inbox is a mess, you probably don’t even know this is happening.

You may be thinking, “oh, this has never happened to me,” with some side-eye for good measure 👀, while there are half a dozen unread inquiries in your Gmail archive right now.


4. It would take longer than 2 minutes to pull together everything you’re working on

If I asked you to list out every current and upcoming wedding or project on your plate, could you do it?

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I get that a busy boss can have too much exciting shit going on to remember it all at once - but THAT’S WHY systems are so important! You should be able to find and figure out everything you’re working on easily - in 2 minutes or less. 👏

You should have a CRM or project management tool...hell, a snack-stained piece of scrap paper that lives in the corner of your desk even works…just *something* that shows you everything you’ve got goin’ on, all in one place.

Consider this step 1 of you intervention. You don’t need to work this way. Your systems spirit guide is here to teach you. 💁🏻

 

Systems 101: Time to Get Your Biz-Shiz Together

I know, I know, “You’re a creative, dagnabbit!”

You need chaos to create, your brain has #allthethings going on, you like it that way, and eff anyone who can’t deal with it.

And you know what? I get that attitude, I’ve felt it myself. 🙋🏻

Let me fill you in on a little secret though. That whole “but I’m a creative!” shit does NOT fly in the wedding industry. 🙇🏻‍♀️

Weddings are days with a thousand and a half moving parts, and ya know, just happens to be one of the most important days of the couple’s life.

No pressure to get everything perfect or anything…

Plus, sorry (not sorry), but you’re not just a creative, you’re also a businesswoman. 👩🏻‍💻

An entrepreneur. A badass boss.

Like it or not, you need business systems to get your shit together so you actually come off like the badass professional you are.

And I know that as creatives, the business ish tends to have us running for the wine. FAST. Which is why I’m here to be your systems spirit guide. 💁🏻

Today we’re just dipping our toes in the water - grab a glass of pinot and learn all about what business systems are and why you need them. 🍷

WTF are Systems?

Basically, systems are the key to keeping your biz shiz together. 🙌🏻

Your systems are all the guidelines, rules, and processes that you go through to do your job. I know, those words...guidelines, processes...they’re gross. But you need them.

Otherwise, you’re starting from scratch with each new client. Doing extra work, taking more time than needed, and generally making your own life and your clients’ lives harder.

But when you’ve decided on systems, written ‘em down and made ‘em real, you have a “formula” or directions to start with each time. And not vague IKEA-like directions, shit that’s actually helpful.

So let’s say a couple wants to hire you as their wedding photographer.

Here’s what that looks like without knowing your systems: 👎🏻

They contact you. It sits in your inbox until you remember to reply to it. You write them a new email letting them know the first steps to getting started with you. You write another email right after because you left out the most important detail.

More back and forth and disorganization, with you doing things as you go, until they decide to hire someone else for your special day.

But when you know your systems, it’s more like: 👏🏻

They contact you. You have a canned or automated email with everything they need to know next, that you can easily send off in 15 seconds. You DON’T forget anything important. They easily set up a conference call. On the consult, you have set questions and things to talk about, and can lay what happens every step of the way.

They’re BLOWN AWAY because you’re SO freaking organized, throw some money at your face to book their spot, and are consistently amazed by how professional you are right up until they tie the knot, and after.

And at the end of the day, all it takes to set up systems is *knowing your shit.* Knowing the who, what, when, where, and how of every situation. All things you already know, systems just make it “official” so you don’t have to do the thinking and work every time.

Gotta love not having to think, right?!

But that’s not the only reason you wanna check your systems before you wreck your systems…

Why You Want Systems All Up in Your Creative Biz!

Listen. There are endless reasons to get your business shit together. And all roads lead back to more clients, happier clients, more money, and less stress. But if you need to get more specific than that, happy to lay it out:

  • Systems set a foundation for each new client - you’re not starting things from scratch. You have set steps to go through, canned emails to use, document templates to rely on, and lots of fun stuff to decrease the amount of work per wedding.

  • They keep things consistent - when you’re following a set system and following directions, you’re way less likely to forget something or mess a step up.

  • Delegating gets easier - as your grow your biz, you’ll be able to automate and outsource a lot of the boring biz shit so you can focus on creative fun and your brides and grooms.

  • You look professional AF - just being real here. Being super organized and having smooth systems impresses clients.

Ready to come over to the dark side yet? Things are all alphabetized and color coded, it’s all kinds of pretty and just pure amaaaazingness!

For more about how to get your systems together and start looking like the pro you are, stay tuned for more on the blog. If you’re ready to get starting building fancy AF systems now, I can help.

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