Running an efficient online business doesn’t have to be an impossible dream.
I get it, though. It’s not easy to know where to start when you’re jumping from one “has to happen now” thing to the next.
One of the biggest time sucks my clients see in their online businesses is starting from scratch each time they do a repeatable task.
Sounds like the opposite of efficient, doesn’t it? It’s so easy to fall into this trap, though. I’ve certainly been guilty.
We tell ourselves “oh, it’s going to take too much time to document what I’m doing or put it all in one place right now. I’m in a hurry!” In the moment, we resolve to circle back when things aren’t so crazy. Most of the time, we don’t. Consequently, the cycle continues.
Who doesn’t want to be more efficient?
Whether it’s onboarding a client, answering FAQs in your inbox, or creating branded social media posts, organizing and documenting your processes will save you time and headaches down the road.
So, where do you start when you’re already stretched thin? First, take a deep breath.
Next, take a few short minutes to read through my tips for becoming more efficient…
4 Simple Tips for an Efficient Online Business
Tip 1: Put time on your calendar to work on systems and workflows
It’s so easy to push this type of task off if organizing and systematizing isn’t your groove. But that just keeps you stuck in the land of inefficiency with no ticket out when you have to do the task right NOW.
Schedule it in, my friend, and keep that commitment to your business just like you would for a client. And then set a recurring appointment to revisit those systems once a month. If you stay consistent, you’ll only need to make tweaks to keep things flowing along.
Tip 2: Document all repeatable tasks
If you do it more than two or three times, document the process. More specifically, I want you to note every single step involved in the task – no matter how intuitive or obvious you think it is.
Why? There’s a couple of reasons.
First, you’ll start to see opportunities to do things differently.
When you’re running on automatic pilot, it’s hard to assess what you could do better. Often, there’s a “duh” solution that will make your life so much easier when you see every step listed out.
Second, you ultimately will hire most of these repeatable tasks out.
The best chance of success for you and your new team member happens when you don’t expect her to read your mind.
Not everything in your head is obvious to everyone else. So do yourself and your prospective team members a favor. Document all the repeatable tasks so everyone can be more efficient.
Tip 3: Document the things you’ve hired out
If you’re thinking “why? That’s why I hired it out. It’s not my jam,” I hear you.
The problem? What if that team member ghosts on you?
That very thing happened to me. It wasn’t fun to try to put the pieces together. Frankly, I did a pretty crappy job of it because I let her do her own thing. As long as the end result was there, I was satisfied. But that meant I really wasn’t sure how she got to the end result.
Whether you have an executive assistant, a VA, or an OBM handling work for you, make sure you know what they are doing and how.
You can ask them to document their process or do a screen recording, and pay them for their time. That documentation is an asset to you in case you ever need to step in or train someone new.
Tip 4: Use some tools!
I know it can be a PITA to learn yet another new thing. But I bet there are tools you already use that you can leverage in a new way to be more efficient.
First, create some canned responses in Gmail.
Do you find yourself answering the same questions or sending the same email responses out over and over again? Make your life easier by turning them into canned responses in Gmail. Here’s how to do it.
Second, create branded templates in Canva, in Google Docs, or in Google Slides.
If you use Canva to create social media graphics, simplify things. Create a couple of templates that you can use over and over again by varying your brand colors.
You probably are sending your clients the same information over and over again, right? Why not create a branded doc in Google, save it as a pdf, and share that with your clients going forward instead of reinventing the wheel each time.
Google Slides is a great resource for mapping out frameworks or flow diagrams – in addition to creating presentations. Design some branded slides templates for yourself in Google Slides, then use those templates to add any custom details specific to individual clients.
Third, add repeatable projects to your project management system.
Project management tools like Trello, ClickUp, or Asana really shine when you add in projects that use the same steps over and over.
Bringing on a new team member? Map out the steps in your project management system.
Do you work on client projects that have a consistent flow? Plug it into your project management system, and duplicate it for each client.
How about your bookkeeping? Put your daily, weekly, and quarterly tasks into your project management system so you know what’s needed and when.
Onboarding a client? You know those steps are repeatable, so add those into your project management system. Or just grab Onboard Like A Boss where I did it for you!
You may be thinking “wow, that sounds like a lot of work!”
Here’s the real secret to an efficient online business…
Plan it out once – then rinse and repeat. That way, you never forget a step. You never have to recreate documents because you can’t find them. And you end up saving, not wasting, time and money!
You also might want to check out this post for some easy onboarding tips that will impress your clients.
Want to join a group of Gen X women who are making their business dreams happen? Join my free community where we talk about business and life – and we have some fun, too!