Workflows and Systems General

5 Ways to Tell if Your Workflow Is Helping or Hurting Your Business

5 Ways to Tell if Your Workflow is Helping or hurting your business
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5 Ways to Tell if Your Workflow is Helping or hurting your business

Do you have an inefficient workflow that may be hurting your creative business? When I first started creating workflow education and templates, I assumed that everyone had some sort of workflow or system in place (or at least knew about the amazing benefits of having them)!  However, when a few thousand creatives signed up for my freebies on workflow and time management, I quickly realized this assumption was very incorrect.  So, I started investigating, talking to business owners in the industry and asking them about workflows. I quickly found out that many people (just like me in 2015!) didn’t have workflows in place and were working around the clock to deliver work to their clients on time. All while losing money, freedom from their screen and overall sanity in the process.

I’m not here to tell you that running a business is easy. What I am here to tell you is that it doesn’t have to be so damn hard! 

Rather than following a tried and true system from beginning to end, too many people are reinventing the wheel every time a new client comes through the door.  Today, I thought it would be helpful to share 5 ways to tell if your workflow is helping or hurting your business.

  1. You constantly feel behind on your work, even though it feels like you’re working all the time.

When I first quit my 9-5 job to become a full-time photographer, I thought I’d have all the time in the world. SOMEHOW, I still found myself working at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. And I still felt behind.  That was until I put workflows into place.  Now? My photography business can probably run on 10 hours/week of work during the busy season and 5 hours/week of work in the offseason.  If you are constantly feeling behind on your work, you always have multiple clients in your queue AND you’re working around the clock… then, your workflow may be hurting you more than it is helping.

  1. You can’t scale it.

When I started, my workflows were written on a piece of paper, (color coded of course).  Then, I started getting all fancy-like and put it on a google sheet with X’s next to each thing as I did them for my clients. Yes, very fancy 😉  Needless to say, it wasn’t scalable in the slightest. I would log in every day to my google sheet and randomly select something to do. Or, I would have to use all my energy and brain power to figure out what clients needed what documents or who needed to be blogged, culled, edited, etc.

THEN, I got smart. I initially put my workflow into Trello. Then I moved to Asana. Then I moved to HoneyBook, where I hope it will live forever! Now… at the time I am writing this blog, I am managing 55 photography projects with as little as 15 minutes a day for admin tasks. Of course, when I’m in post-production it’s more like 1-2 hours a day but with EASE, I am able to manage all my clients at one time.  

Having my workflow built into HoneyBook means that every single day, I can login to my task management section of HoneyBook and see exactly what’s due for every client.  Is it time to create their timeline? Hire the second shooter for a specific wedding? Send the vendors an introduction email? Blog a wedding? Follow up with an inquiry? Everything shows up each day in the task management section of my HoneyBook account so I know exactly what needs to happen when– across every single project.

Want help setting up your HoneyBook workflows? Contact me here, and check the box “Workflow and Systems Implementation”.  We can dive into creating custom workflows for your business and getting them all set up in HoneyBook, so you too can be managing DOZENS of clients with ease.

If you’re looking to try out HoneyBook, you can get a 14-day free trial here, and if you decide to use it for your business, you’ll get 50% off your first year with this link!*

  1. It’s not written down.

I hear this on almost every client call.  “Well, I kinda have a workflow, but it’s all in my head!” Okay, so what happens when your business grows to the point where you need to hire someone to help? Or when you get sick and can’t perform work and you have client deadlines pending? If no one can come in and easily repeat your workflow, it is NOT GOOD.  Unless they are Edward Cullen (shameless Twilight reference) or a certified mind reader, a workflow that lives in your head does not count as having a workflow.

I often ask myself how people work without a workflow.  If I offer a new service and don’t have a workflow created yet, I feel SO FRAZZLED. All of my work is scattered and unorganized and I’m reinventing the wheel every time for that new service – EKK!  Now I’m in the habit of creating the workflow before I offer the service so that this doesn’t become an issue and I’m NOT reinventing the wheel every time. Instead, I’m following a series of repeatable steps for every new client that comes in the door.

  1. It’s not consistent.

Do your project delivery times vary greatly from client to client? Do you inconsistently blog client projects based on your workload? Do clients at the beginning of your season get an incredible experience, fast delivery times, and feel like their the only client in the world to you? While your clients in the “busy season” get delivery times nearing your contractual promise, email responses days after they email you, and poor communication throughout?  If your clients throughout the year, or even day to day, are getting inconsistent experiences from one another, is that fair?

I’ve heard many photographers tell me that in April or May, they are delivering galleries when clients are still on their honeymoon, and feel like they have a good system. But, come September and October, their head is about to pop off and they’re now MONTHS behind in their queue.

And this doesn’t just apply to photographers, obviously.  If your workflow is inconsistent, you are doing a disservice to your clients and yourself. Full stop.

  1. It’s non-existent.

Well, I feel like this one doesn’t need much explanation. If your workflow is non-existent, I think it’s safe to say that it stinks! =) (Said with love!)  I can understand the belief that you don’t need a workflow if you only have a few clients and you’re the sole person running your business.  But if I could go back in time five years and plead with my former self to create a workflow from the get-go, before my calendar had 28 weddings on it, I would have saved myself so much burn out, heartache, stress, anxiety and overwhelm in the future.

Do yourself a favor, and write it down! (Or, go to my shop and grab my pre-made workflows for photographers and save yourself the four months it took me to perfect my system). Psst, I’m hoping to add workflows for other types of creative business owners in there soon, you won’t be left out!

So, let me know where you’re at… do you have a workflow? Is it hurting your business? Are you streamlined and efficient or can you use some help in this area? I’m working on a few exciting new projects *ahem* to help you get your workflows from zero to hero, and I’m so excited to announce what this is in just a few months!

Want more tips on workflows and systems? Grab my free guide below!

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*Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I would love if you decided to use them. Affiliate links + referrals programs help educators like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs.

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We teach paid courses, host a membership community, and sell DIY templates and resources - ALL designed to help business owners build better businesses and better lives.  Our hope is to help make following your passions easier. We can't wait to see your dreams come to life!

We also offer one on one services including brand photography, coaching, and done-for-you workflow creation and implementation.


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